I flew into Hong Kong for INTA 2014 on the Thursday night direct ElAl flight from Tel Aviv. It seems like I was not the only Israeli IP Professional to take advantage of this convenient transport that enabled conventioneers to leave Tel Aviv after the end of the Israeli working week, and arrived Friday Afternoon, three or four hours before Shabbat. There must have been 50-60 colleagues on the plane. It occurred to me that I could have held a reception in the Airport lounge. If I had thought of it earlier, we could have perhaps organized a charter plane. The last hour or so of the flight was uncomfortable, with the plane being buffeted around. On landing, my luggage was almost the first one on the carousel, but it didn’t really help as I had to wait for my brother to come through customs and predictably, his was the last off. We took a train to Kowloon and a courtesy bus to the hotel.
Last time I was Shabbat in Hong Kong, I stayed at the Bishop Lei hotel and prayed and ate at the Jewish Community Center on Robinson’s Road. This trip my brother fancied something different, so we checked into a Kowloon Hotel and went to the Sephardic Synagogue. Sheldon Klein and Elbasz from Holland were at the Synagogue. I understand that there were a few other patent and trademark attorneys in Chabad and others in the Jewish Community Center and Sassoon Synagogue. Unfortunately we got totally soaked trying to get to the Synagogue from the hotel. The rain was so heavy that one literally couldn’t see where one was going. As we didn’t know the way, it hardly mattered.
The prayers at the Sefardaic Synagogue Hechal Ezra – were very pleasant. The food Friday night was excellent. There were a range of salads and fish dishes, including Japanese style raw fish, Morrocan style spicy fish (Chreime), East European style gefilte fish, and English style cod. The main course included a choice of chicken drumsticks, stuffed breast of chicken, roast beef and stuffed mushrooms. Coffee was served with cake and tropical fruit.The Shabbat morning service started at a civilized and very English 9 am. The preliminary hymns took almost an hour. After the rabbi spoke on the importance of Charity, the Aliyot were auctioned to rai se funds towards purchasing a new building. The additional Shabbat service, musaf, was rushed to finish by 12 PM. Lunch was less spectacular than the Friday night fare. There was a range of starters, including some excellent chopped liver and more gefilte fish, which was surprising for a Sephardic Synagogue. There was also a sort of chamin – cholent type dish, but no other hot meat, which was somewhat odd, as generally sefardaic communities are lenient with reheating solid food, and there was definitely beef left over from the previous evening.In addition to locals, there were businessmen from Panama, the US, Latin America, Israel and Europe. There were a couple of other patent attorneys. The service, the food and the atmosphere was distinctly cosmopolitan.
On the Sunday, we went to the conference center which seems to have 4 or 5 floors and confusingly, registration, once we found it, was only for those who hadn’t pre-paid – which was clearly a minority. Once I found the registration desk, I was redirected to Check-in, which is apparently where those who have checked in have to collect their name tags. From Check-In, on a different floor, in a different part of the convention center, there were some more up-escalators, 500 yard hikes and down-escalators to where one can collect the conference bags, and a few floor changes and more walking to find the exhibition area. The hospitality area was so large, with so many entrances and gates to the exhibition hall that I don’t think it was possible to actually rendez-vous with a colleague for a pre-arranged meeting, and certainly not with someone who one didn’t actually know by face. It was probably good that I had no interest in attending lectures, since it would have been next to impossible to find a lecture hall and then find one’s way back through the maze of the conference center.
I don’t know how Jeremy did it, but there was a building just behind the Conference Center with a big PHILIPS sign on the roof. Unfortunately, it was spelled the Dutch electrical way with one L, but it was, nevertheless, a fitting tribute to one of the most eminent trademark experts and bloggers.
There seemed to be the regular crowd of Europeans, but more Asians and less Americans than usual. As India is a relatively close 4 or 5 hours flight from Hong Kong, the Indian sub-continent was well-represented, and during a speed-networking session, I found myself opposite several Indian and Pakistani practitioners. Having been accosted by various tailors in Kowloon offering suits and shirts, and suffering jet-lag, it was difficult to focus on the fact that I was being offered IP services and not simply been asked my inside-leg measurements.
I was actually bespoken for, wearing a blazer, shirt, silk tie and high quality wool trousers made-to-measure on a previous trip to Hong Kong. I can certainly recommend that those who’ve never tried it, invest in the suit-in-two-days option. Hong Kong tailoring is not cheap, but the quality of the workmanship and the fabrics is first class.
The exhibition hall featured a lot of practitioners, particularly, but by no means exclusively from Asia. There was, however, a dearth of swag. I suspect I will have to go to shopping for the kids before flying home.
There seem to be fewer receptions than usual, and fewer taxis to transport one through the rain. That and the rain seemed to result in more attorneys being at the Opening Reception than usual. For some reason, there was no Kosher food at the opening event. INTA is normally considerate and organized. Usually there is a Kosher table. The regular minyan of Observant practitioners were rather annoyed; particularly those who’d bought accompanying adults and had paid for additional tickets for them. The catering manager was a Ms Hilary Cohen, who was sympathetic, but unable to solve the problem.
It was an ideal opportunity to network with Iranians, Egyptian, Lebanese, Quatar and Jordanian colleagues. Not likely to bring in lots of work, but nevertheless, valuable third-level diplomacy.