After a hectic but fun four days, I am back home from the AIPPI Conference in Paris.
The opening ceremony, which is traditionally not the most exciting part of the program, was rather fun. The event was compered by Conference Co Chair, Thierry Sueur, who was overwhelmingly French in a charmingly Clouseau way. He asked some surprisingly pointed questions to a panel of leading figures such as WIPO Director General Frances Gurry, about whether the Patent superhighway rendered PCT irrelevant, and he queried the qualification of the new INPI Director General, Yves Lapeirre, pointing out his total lack of experience regarding IP.
The results of the IP Essay Competition were announced, with a woman in a short pink dress and long purple tights giving ze winners and ze runnerz up leetle keeses. Very French, but not very egalitarian.
After somezing for the intellect, we were entertained by somezing sensuelle, wiz a performans of Brahms on ze piano and a speed painter producing the AIPPI logo over the “Le triomphe de la Révolution” (the Triumph of the Revolution), a chariot drawn by horses preparing “to crush Anarchy and Despotism”, that crowned the arch – apparently erected as a tribute to a leading bra manufacturer.
The sensuele element was followed by somezing gastromonique for ze stomache, with what appeared to be a splendid reception comprising traditional French delicacies like foie gras and various cheeses, washed down with large quantities of Champagne. For those preferring raw fish, there was also a sushi budget.
Missed by this participant, was a Kosher alternative, as provided in INTA, for example. With a significant minority of the European (East and West), American (North and South) and Australian patent attorneys being Jewish, I suspect I wasn’t alone. I really think the committee of the Israel chapter could (and should) have done something – this regardless of their personal levels of observance.
I found the lectures on business method patents rather, well, sleep-provoking. The highlight for me was when one of the participants tabled a question to an appeal judge of the EPO asking for a definition of what was meant by ‘technical effect’. Unfortunately however, no response was forthcoming.
The lectures and discussion on Supplementary Protection Certificates were rather more informative. Here the embarrassing question was that tabled by my co-patriot Adv. David Gilat, who suggested that pharmaceutical patents should be extendable to 20 years from regulatory approval. OK, so he represents the pharma industry and was doing a bit of shameless self-promotion, but it does seem just a little unbalanced. After all, the income per year for pharma patents are perhaps 6 orders of magnitude more than that generated by the average patent in any other industry. Whilst countries try to balance the rights of drug developers with other manufacturers, and to achieve affordable health care for the sick, this position seemed a trifle naive and one-sided from a leading ethical patent litigator. It also gave some insight into why Israel generic company Unipharm, represented by Adi Levit, has won against Lunbeck, Merck and Glaxo Smithkline recently. It’s not a bias of the Israel courts, it’s simply that the generic industry has better representation.
My kids were generally disgruntled with the spoils I brought back, and without question, the freebies at INTA were better.
Nevertheless, here are the awards:
- For appropriateness to their overall marketing strategy – CPA Global with binoculars
- For new freebies every day, Rubicon – who contributed a wooden IQ puzzle, a chess set and a tangram puzzle – a game for each of my three kids
- The stand advertising next years Forum and Exco in Hyderabad, India, for some rather nice bookmarks
Most of the business card lotteries seemed to be raffling Apple iPodae. The favorite gift at receptions, etc. seemed to be flash memory sticks.
The organizers opened the Louvre to us one evening. I wandered around looking for a piece of sculpture or a painting to bring back for our soon to be refurbished main office, and finally settled on a classic bust of a leading patent renaissance figure:
Of the various corporate bashes, I particularly enjoyed the chocolate fondue at the Bird and Bird party, as I could eat it! One of the French firms entertained us with a great singer who had a very wide repertoire, including John Lennon’s Imagine, and Sarit Hadad’s Shema Yisrael – in French, but with the Chorus in Hebrew.
Although I did hear a lot of gripes regarding various aspects of the organization, as a special guest of the conference organizers, with free participation and hotel, I found the whole event phenomenal value for money. After all, my hotel bill was 2 Euros and 10 cents, so I got my money’s worth!
I enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. These events helps one keep things in perspective. I found myself looking upwards at German patent attorneys who seemed to be an average 6′ 6″, downwards at the practitioners from the Far East who seemed a little shorter than the Germans. I admired the grace and beauty of the Indian ladies and was entertained by the anecdotes of the Irish. I also found myself chatting comfortably with Saudi Arabian, Lebanese, UAE, Malaysian and Pakistani colleagues. I hope that the political situation normalizes and we can soon start sending each other work.