In December’s FICPI News, I reported on our visits to the Indian, Singaporean, Chinese, Korean and Japanese IP Offices in November, as part of FICPI’s annual “Asian Tour”. The Offices were not our only visits at that time, and as usual we took the opportunity of our official visits to meet with leaders and members of FICPI and other national IP associations in the region, to promote membership of FICPI and to give a series of seminars on various topics to help local practitioners strengthen their knowledge of  international IP practice.

Going back a few years now, FICPI’s official visits were originally confined to regular meetings with the EPO, WIPO and the USPTO, with occasional visits to the European Commission and the JPO. That changed in 2010 when FICPI began making annual visits to SIPO (as it then was) as well as JPO, soon adding a yearly visit to KIPO to complete the triumvirate of visits to the Far East members of the IP5, TM5 and ID5.  

What had started as a trip of a few days’ duration had turned into an annual Asian tour and, with official IPO meetings typically only lasting half-a-day at most, the FICPI delegations began to fill gaps in their schedule by offering specialist seminars to local IP practitioners.  

These seminars have now become an established part of the Asian itinerary. During the 2012-15 term, my predecessor, Bastiaan Koster, added the Indian patent office to the list of regular visits, and the Indian Roundtable Meetings, reported on by Swarup Kumar in December’s News became a regular feature.  

This year, FICPI took the opportunity to raise its profile and strengthen its membership in Southeast Asia by holding the latest in its Seminar Series in Singapore, back-to-back with a regular meeting of our Study & Work Committee (CET). 

This was a tremendous success, and while Elia Sugrañes, Robert Watson, Sharon Crane and I were in Mumbai and Delhi, a second FICPI team, led by immediate past President Doug Deeth, was working hard in parallel in Singapore, with an official visit to IPOS and participation in a meeting of the Association of Singapore Patent Attorneys (ASPA). At ASPA, Michael Caine gave a presentation on recent FICPI resolutions, focusing on resetting the priority period, double patenting and the industrial applicability of inventions, especially in the pharmaceutical area, to demonstrate how FICPI prepares its resolutions in practice and what is done with them after they are adopted. Doug followed up with a presentation on client-attorney privilege, explaining why it matters to businesses in countries who do not have it at present.

Once in China, the FICPI team sped from its meeting with CNIPA in the morning of November 25 (previously reported) to a lunch hosted by ACPAA followed by an afternoon seminar for members of ACPAA and FICPI-China. Here Doug spoke about Brexit and IP rights and Brett Slaney, Michael Caine and Coleen Morrison gave presentations on “AI – Eligibility and Report on AI Colloquium”, “Conflicting Applications and Double Patenting” and “Virtual Designs, Tradedresses and Trade Marks – Mindful to Recent Changes” respectfully.  Copies of these presentations are available free to download on FICPI.org.  

After the seminar, the members of the FICPI delegation were invited to dinner by the leadership of the Beijing Patent Attorneys Association (BPAA) where discussions turned to how to facilitate membership of FICPI by Chinese IP attorneys – a highly relevant discussion, given the very large number of Chinese attorneys who might wish to join. These discussions are ongoing, and we hope to see continued expansion of FICPI’s Chinese membership in the months and years to come.

Before departing for Korea the next day, the FICPI team again sub-divided, with Doug Deeth and me attending a largely ceremonial Opening Ceremony for the new Beijing International IP Service Hall. Here I was pleased to give a short speech introducing FICPI and its activities to an invited audience of Chinese officials, foreign official guests, local politicians, staff from the new Service Hall and others.  

Meanwhile, Coleen Morrison headed up a team to a bilateral meeting with the Chinese Trademark Association (CTA) where she presented CTA President Mr. MA Fu with an ornament from FICPI to commemorate the CTA’s 25th Anniversary.  FICPI is looking forward to collaborating with the CTA more in the future, including possibly the China Trade Mark Festival, which attracts approximately 3,000 attendees annually.

Whilst in Korea, the FICPI team enjoyed a brief lunch with senior members of FICPI-Korea, headed up by local President, Mr Kyu-Pal Choi, before giving a seminar to local IP attorneys. During the seminar, Coleen Morrison, Brett Slaney and I squeezed in a brief meeting with Mr. Yongkwan Lee, Director, and Mr. Albert Lee of the Korean Intellectual Property Association (KINPA) which is the Korean industry body which sits as an official observer at meetings of the IP5 offices. KINPA expressed an interest providing in-house expertise to FICPI’s events and promised to invite FICPI speakers to its own meetings. 

Afterwards, the FICPI visitors in Seoul were invited to a very cordial dinner with the President and board members of the KPAA.  

Sadly at this point, I had to return to the UK for personal reasons, but the rest of the team, their stamina undiminished,  carried on to Tokyo under the leadership of Doug Deeth. After meeting with the JPO in the morning of 29 November, as previously reported, the delegation enjoyed lunch with the President and other senior members of JPAA before giving seminars to JPAA members in the afternoon.  

The Asian Tour 2019 wrapped up on the evening of 29 November with a party generously organised by the Japanese Association of FICPI.  

All in all, the FICPI team met with five IP Offices and 11 national IP associations and FICPI groups and gave two roundtable meetings and four seminars, with 24 presentations, in just eight days, sub-dividing only twice. 

Given the importance of meeting regularly with leading IP Offices, making best use of the time between official visits (and flights) to visit with local IP associations and give seminars provides an excellent opportunity to raise FICPI’s profile around the world, to give informative talks on international/foreign IP issues to members of the local profession and to create chances for local members and foreign visitors to meet and strengthen their personal and professional bonds.  Planning is already underway for FICPI’s Asian Tour 2020.

FICPI’s view and involvement 

FICPI’s principal aims include ‘expressing FICPI’s opinions with regard to newly proposed international and national legislation that is of general concern to the profession’. Creating and building connections with IP Offices, national IP associations and FICPI groups globally is fundamental to achieving that goal. 

Running seminars alongside meetings facilitates another principal aim; that of ‘Promoting training and continuing education of our members and others interested in intellectual property’ and enables us to put on high quality events with expert speakers.

Next steps