Following another successful FICPI Forum, Ivan Ahlert reports on the results of the delegate satisfaction survey, most popular sessions, highlights of plenaries and IP Management and Trademark streams.

FICPI’s Open Forum attracts FICPI members and guests from around the world and is also open to the public, ensuring colleagues from industry, governmental and legislative bodies can also attend.

We would like to thank everyone who attended the Forum, and to all who responded to the satisfaction survey about this year’s Forum.

The (initial) results of the survey are in, and around 92% of the respondents considered the Forum to be “excellent or very good”.

We organise our fora to allow our members and their peers to connect, share knowledge and build relationships; gather insights from peers around the world; and create business opportunities, and your opinion is very important to us.

The responses strengthen our perception that IP management topics are seen as a great differentiator of FICPI events, and several respondents suggested that we expand the themes in this stream for the future.

Sessions voted “most useful”

Survey responses about preferred sessions were quite scattered; practically all sessions received votes, but two were noted as particularly useful: “AI, 3D Printing of Human Organs, and Other Emerging Technologies” and “Being a Patent Attorney in the 21st Century”, both in the Patent Stream, coordinated by Michael Caine.

This sends a clear sign about our delegates’ interest in issues related to IP protection of new technologies and in the perspective and opinions of the newer generations of IP practitioners.

The first of these sessions dealt with the question as to whether the patent system is ready to provide appropriate protection in fast-paced emerging technology fields such as Artificial Intelligence and 3D printing of human organs, whilst encouraging innovation.

The latter session explored the challenges that patent attorneys face as they try to progress upwards in their career paths, by means of a dynamic and interactive debate between the panellists.

Plenaries

FICPI’s president, Julian Crump opened the Forum.

The first invited speaker was Jaime Lemons, Nike’s vice-president of trademark & design, who gave an interesting plenary on practical examples of the company’s initiatives to protect its product configuration as a trademark, noting the sometimes conflicting aspects of patent or registered design applications for the same design features.

Other plenaries included “Transfer of Priority Rights in View of the CRISPR-Cas9 Case in Europe”, concerning the dangers associated with inadequate assignments of priority rights. This offered relevant insights as to what should be considered and what should be avoided in connection with transferring priority rights, based on the “FICPI Guidelines on Transferring Priority Rights“.

IP management

In the IP Management Stream, coordinated by Patrick Erk, a panel on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) looked into what kind of KPIs can and should be used, and presented the results of a FICPI survey into the current use of KPIs in IP firms, from FICPI’s Professional Excellence Commission (PEC).

Another panel, on quality assurance, provided hints on documenting and improving a firm’s workflows, and attendees received a hard copy of FICPI’s recently published “Report of Six Sigma Projects in IP Law Firms“(member benefit), alongside a printed copy of FICPI’s “Guidelines for Communications between IP Firms” (member benefit). While the latter deals with traditional communications, a session on standardising digital communications introduced guidelines that are being developed by FICPI’s Professional Excellence Commission to create a standard to automate digital communications between IP firms.

Trademarks

In the Trademark Stream, coordinated by Toni Ashton and Lena Shen, a panel about how to recognise potential conflicts in IP law used as its starting point the recent US case of Altova GMBH v. Syncro Soft SRL, with respect to the issues surrounding the duty of care of IP practitioners with respect to managing potential conflicts between clients in the same field.

“International Trademarks” dealt with the potential dangers for trademark owners who may feel tempted to use the Madrid Protocol to obtain international protection without being fully aware of special conditions for use, classification and issuance of registration certificates laid down by some contracting parties.

Delegates enjoyed these sessions and many more. The speeches were video-recorded, and FICPI plans to make them available to delegates in the near future. Keep tuned for more news in this respect!

FICPI’s view and involvement

The Open Fora are an immensely popular and valuable aspect of FICPI membership. Speakers bring new insights, highlight trends and shed light on different aspects of IP practice management as well as legal and practical aspects of patents, trademarks and designs that impact IP attorneys worldwide. This event cements FICPI’s dual focus on legal and professional excellence and thrives thanks to the FICPI community’s strong shared interest to promote common solutions and advocacy for private practice.

Next steps