IP Summit 2016 (First Part)

This Kitten was delighted to attend the 11th edition of the Pan-European Intellectual Property Summit (already announced here), which took place on 1st and 2nd December at the World Customs Organization in Brussels. Here is her report.

The event was attended by around 360 IP professionals from 37 countries. In this edition, the speakers covered trendy topics such as 3D printing, Internet of Things, unconventional trademarks, cross-border portability of content, Digital Single Market strategy, consequences of Brexit on Designs and Trademarks in the EU, and online counterfeiting. 

Since some of the sessions took place in parallel, this Kitten was forced to sometimes choose between them. As such, she would like to apologize to those speakers whom she could not cover in this post. 

Conference “From Mass Production to Customization by the Masses (3D Printing)”

The session was chaired by Dr. Anette Gärtner (Reed Smith LLP). The speakers, Samuel Gebbett (Materialise), Mette M. Andersen (LEGO) and Rob Lucas (Shulmans LLP), provided insights about the IP law implications regarding the creation of a product by using 3D printing technologies. 

From the point of view of a 3D printing Service Provider (3DpSP), Samuel Gebbett (Materialise) explained the main features of some 3D printing technologies (FDM -Fused Deposition Modeling- and SLS -Selective Laser Sintering-), their advantages over the subtractive manufacturing and applications, such as the 3D printing midsole for adidas Futurecraft using SLS technology. 

Samuel mentioned as challenges faced by a 3DpSP, the determination of IPR ownership and third-party infringement of IPRs. In addition, the “Katy Perry’s Left Shark” case (2015), which involved the takedown of a CAD file from Shapeways website due to alleged copyright infringement to the shark custom, was briefly discussed.

From the perspective of an IPR owner, Mette M. Andersen (LEGO) said the company has used 3D Printing technologies for about 20 years due to their advantages (cheap, fast and better quality) for prototyping, so, they do not consider such technologies as a threat. In addition, she highlighted one would be discouraged from mass manufacturing one of their most popular products (the standard brick) by using 3D printing technologies because it would take several hours and the quality would not be the same.

Mette also stated the official position of the company regarding 3D printing products similar or compatible with LEGO products. She said they welcome fair competition and actively monitor online activities to take action as necessary to prevent infringement of their IPRs. As well, they do not allow the use of the LEGO trademark on any 3D printed product.

Finally, from the point of view of an IP law firm practitioner, Rob Lucas (Shulmans LLP) discussed strategies for enforcing IPRs in the context of 3D printing technologies, such as the shutdown of websites and the removal of links containing infringing material. Rob also mentioned as challenges for effective enforcement of IPRs the degree to which CAD files can be shared can be quickly and easily shared, the complexity of starting cross-border proceedings and the difficulty to act against small- scale infringement occurring worldwide.

Conference “Protecting against Infringement on Social Media”

The session was chaired by Julia Anne Matheson (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP). Chris Butler (Music Sales Group) and Caroline Perriard (BrandIT) featured as speakers.

From the perspective of copyright and related rights owners, Chris Butler (Music Sales Group) pointed out that the music industry was materially affected in a negative manner at the beginning of the digital era. However, even though there are still economic losses due to infringements, more recently the industry has taken advantage of social media and has monetized the streaming of content.

Chris explained that licensing with key social media platforms, such as YouTube, has been one of the strategies to reduce the economic loss. In addition, some platforms, like Spotify, are playing an important role.

From the point of view of trademark owners, Caroline Perriard (BrandIT) mentioned that social media constitutes a great opportunity for building market visibility, but carries with it the disadvantage of not controlling brand messaging. She highlighted that understanding the role played by the social media and its users is a successful strategy against trademark infringement.

Caroline addressed a case where this role was not well-understood, leading to an unfavorable response by consumers to brand enforcement. In 2013, a cease and desist letter was sent to a blogger, (Sara Rosso) requesting that she refrain from the use of the Nutella trademark, logo or likeness on her Facebook page that had been created for the celebration of World Nutella Day. The company withdrew the letter one week later after the fans expressed their anger to its tone and content and Rosso had darkened her social media activities.

Stay tuned for the second part of IP Summit 2016.

*Pictures are courtesy of Premier Cercle team.
IP Summit 2016 (First Part) IP Summit 2016 (First Part) Reviewed by Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo on Sunday, January 29, 2017 Rating: 5


  1. For a more timely, if less comprehensive and more irreverend review, see:


  2. Michael @Michael Factor,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog review of the conference and your time in Brussels. It took me more than a year to work out the automaton for buying a mtro ticket (I thought they weren't working each time I tried). Despite its recent troubles and its serious scruffiness in parts, Brussels is much more live and let live than Paris. It is not hugely welcoming, still not a services economy but it is still not hostile to most newcomers.Renting a huge apartment/house with space is easy, with little hassle. I know of colleagues from Paris that try to stay on simply because of the space. I wonder why it hasn't figured in the places to get Brexit business because I for one think Paris is a non starter (don't rush to comment).Tax is very high as is red tape and bureaucracy though but it is the same in Paris. Paris has deeper social and security problems.

    Belgium is very Catholic but socially very liberal and not especially practising(one of the first on gay marriage and that seems very widespread; legal cohabitation for both hetero and single sex couples). Brussels has a strong Jewish community which is largely non practising with links to law firms and particular universities (ULB) vs UC Louvain (which is Catholic).With time you realise that in Belgium (least so), Netherlands (slightly more so), Germany (definitely so), religion matters especially if you are Protestant as opposed to Catholic.Judaism is still a traditional feature of Belgium and France (although many in that French community have moved to London).I say this because I really thought beofre I lived here that these societies were as irreligious as the Brits (used to be?). But yes, all these countries have large and largely unintegrated Islamic communities (compared to the UK which say what you like about Birmingham is simply not at the same level of non-integration) which as part of the mix makes things a bit volatile especially if you want Brexit business.

    Your comments seems on par for conferences in Brussels where the highlight is always the catering except when it is the Commission hosting. I have never actually known anyone who takes this particular conference seriously -too expensive but it is the most heavily advertised each year.


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