FICPI President, Julian Crump, reflects on key achievements from 2019 and looks forward to the year ahead.

The end of the year is traditionally a time to take stock and make plans for the future.  December this year marks not only the start of the holidays, but it is also the half-way point through the current 3-year FICPI term. So, in the words of John Lennon, “What have we done?” And what do we plan to do next?

In large part, FICPI’s work for the year was preordained from June 2018, when the Executive Committee approved the current Strategic Plan. Much of 2019 has been about embarking on a number of initiatives aimed at achieving a number of important objectives for the Federation.  Preeminent amongst these is FICPI’s vision to make efforts to assure a prominent and valued role for the independent IP professional.

FICPI’s publication “The IP Practitioner – Adding Value to Innovation?”, known internally as “Project Orange” was launched at the Executive Committee meeting in Turin in March.

Key initiatives proposed by the Strategic Planning Committee include publishing excerpts from this report to increase its impact, distributing copies to IP offices and actively discussing it with the offices that we met during the recent “Asian tour” to India, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan.  These actions have been completed or are well underway, and my recent posting on FICPI’s new blog site was the first of several dealing with aspects of the report, asking whether patent attorneys are worth the cost? Follow up posts are planned for early next year.

Growing FICPI membership 

Under the Strategic Plan, FICPI aims to grow its membership, especially amongst young professionals, with key areas for growth being North America and Asia. It was no accident that when seeking advice on its communications, FICPI chose an advisor based in the United States to ensure that our messaging would resonate with IP professionals there.

Asian activities

During the course of the year, FICPI held a successful seminar in Singapore, as reported elsewhere in this Newsletter, organised well attended roundtable meetings and seminars in Mumbai, New Delhi, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.

We also made final arrangements for next year’s FICPI Korea Symposium which will take place from 22-24 April 2020 in Seoul. We are confident the FICPI Korea Symposium will repeat the tremendous success of previous Asian symposia – most recently the one in Osaka in 2018, organised by FICPI Japan, which was attended by about 400 patent and trade mark attorneys from Japan, Korea and the rest of the world. The Seminar in Singapore was followed immediately by a meeting of our Study & Work Committee (CET) which gave an excellent opportunity for FICPI members from the region and (relatively) close by, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, to experience first-hand the work of the CET and to join in the discussions.

Make sure you register for Korea before the early bird deadline of 15 January 2020 to take advantage of lower registration fees!

US roadshow for 2020 

As far as North America is concerned, as reported in last month’s FICPI Newsletter, we are organising a “US FICPI Roadshow” from 18th – 22nd May, immediately following our next official meeting with the USPTO.

FICPI members from the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere will give presentations in Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston on a number of key issues that are designed to improve the way patent applications are prosecuted internationally.

Each seminar will be followed by a cocktail reception to give delegates an opportunity to meet the members of the FICPI team and to connect with colleagues from the local area. If you would like to participate in the US Roadshow, please contact the Vice President of the CET, Robert Watson.

Vienna Open Forum

The 18th FICPI Open Forum in Vienna in October was a great success and provided a first opportunity to launch a number of other new initiatives designed to help delegates to meet old friends and make valuable new connections within the global community of independent IP attorneys. These included organising lunch tables with the speakers to enable members of the audience to continue discussions started during the working sessions, the ability to reserve lunch tables to make it easier for delegates to arrange to sit with specific colleagues, additional extra-curricular activities such as mountain biking instead of a more conventional post-conference excursion (which was also excellent) and improved networking through the conference App.

The Strategic Planning Committee held another meeting in Vienna to review progress made so far and to work on other initiatives ahead of its next meeting in March 2020 on the occasion of the Executive Committee meeting in Goa.

New FICPI Communications Strategy

As previously reported, another huge project completed in 2019 was the development of a new Communications Strategy for FICPI and its implementation by refreshing our Newsletter, creating a new FICPI blog and greatly enhancing the Federation’s visibility and activity on social media, particularly LinkedIn, where we have created a new Page for posting news and content and a FICPI LinkedIn Group which is open to all FICPI members, where we hope to facilitate exchange of information, experience and advice within our community. If you have not already done so, I urge you to follow the FICPI LinkedIn Page and to join the FICPI LinkedIn Group.

Official visits and events

On top of these major projects, in 2019 FICPI organised a joint colloquium with AIPLA and AIPPI on IP and Artificial Intelligence in Turin in March (look out for the summary of the colloquium proceedings to be published shortly) and arranged official visits with the European Patent Office (EPO), EUIPO, the USPTO, WIPO, the European Commission, IP India, the Chinese National IP Administration (CNIPA), the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, the Korean IP Office (KIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO). We visited our sister organisations in Singapore (ASPA), China (ACPAA and the Beijing Patent Attorneys Association, BPAA), KPAA and JPAA.

Supporting national and regional groups

Aside from all this activity at the international level, FICPI strongly encourages its national and regional groups to hold meetings at the local level to give members a chance to meet and learn from each other. FICPI supports these meetings by providing speakers and/or financial assistance to help run the meetings. In 2019, FICPI has been pleased to support local meetings organised by FICPI Sweden, FICPI Turkey and FICPI Russia.  If you would like help in organising a local FICPI meeting in your country or region, please contact me or our Secretary General, Roberto Pistolesi.

Managing the Federation

The Bureau met in June in Bordeaux to review progress made so far since the World Congress in Toronto at the start of the present term and came to the view that with the ongoing work on the Communications Strategy, plans for increased levels of FICPI activity in Asia, the US Roadshow and the continuous background strategic planning efforts, there is already more than enough to keep the Federation busy for the rest of the term. Apart from one other major exercise to enhance FICPI’s bookkeeping arrangements to give future Bureau members and others immediate access to FICPI’s books for budgeting and reporting purposes, to automate the invoicing of FICPI’s annual membership subscriptions and to improve our system for reimbursements, no other major projects will be started. Between now and June 2021 when the present term will come to an end, the Bureau will work on completing these open projects and then focus on leaving the management of the Federation in good shape for the next Bureau.

Nominate yourself or a colleague for a FICPI position

On the question of the elections in 2021, the Nominating Committee, which was formed by the Executive Committee in Toronto last year, is busy gathering names of those who would like to stand for election to a small number of elected positions for FICPI’s next term. The positions all require some prior experience. If you are interested in standing for a position, or would like to propose a colleague, please consult the guidelines for further information and the suggested qualifications.

If FICPI members are interested in a non-elected position on FICPI Commissions and sub-groups, contact the Commission President directly.

2020 plans

So as the year draws to a close, I am confident in saying that FICPI has had a busy year and has exciting plans for 2020, including the FICPI Korea Symposium in April, the US Roadshow in May and of course the next (19th) FICPI Open Forum, which will be held in Cannes, France from 7-10 October 2020 (see here for more information). I hope to meet many of you at one or more of these events next year.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy holiday, I hope you have fun, another year over, a new one has just begun. Let’s hope it’s a good one!