As the only organisation exclusively for independent IP attorneys, FICPI helps drive developments in IP practice management as well as clarification and formation of IP law worldwide. Members also benefit from events such as the FICPI Open Forum which offer unmatched access to experts and peers on topics such as IP Practice Management and guidance on unchartered territory such as the patenting of AI and 3D printing of human organs.

Welcome to the first edition of FICPI’s new-look Newsletter. This is the culmination of nine months of hard work.

We have analysed the key stories which FICPI members want to read, and we have asked via which medium and how often they want to receive them. A brand-new Editorial Board has been created under the Communications Commission and a professional editor has been hired. We are all set.

Starting now, FICPI will deliver to you each month a Newsletter with carefully curated content drawn from our global community of members, including key updates in the field of IP and reports on FICPI activities.

Alongside this, we are launching a FICPI Blog where you can read colleagues’ views and opinions on a variety of topics relevant to the independent IP attorney.

From today, FICPI will also become more active on LinkedIn, providing another platform for members to connect and exchange ideas on a range of topics of mutual interest and a channel for publishing more urgent news items. Our new Blog page can be found here, and you can find our LinkedIn page here.

Contributions to the Newsletter and Blog are welcome

If you have news that members will find interesting, or want to share your thoughts on an issue relating to IP in your country or region or relevant to the way we organise or run our firms, then please contact our Editor, Catherine Dhanjal, who will be able to provide you with Guidelines for authors that we have put together to help ensure that all our communications are relevant and on “on message”. Newsletter articles are focused on more factual reporting, whereas the Blog pieces cater more for opinion and thought leadership.

You are encouraged to visit our LinkedIn page to view updates and news from FICPI, or to share or start a discussion.

If you have any feedback on these new initiatives, I would be delighted to hear from you.

18th FICPI Open Forum, 9-12 October 2019

Elsewhere in this Newsletter, you will find reports from our 18th Open Forum in Vienna, which took place from 9-12 October 2019.

The Forum is our marquee event with high quality presentations on a range of IP and practice management issues and taking place in attractive locations. Vienna was no exception, and I am happy to report that the conference “sold out”, with nearly 400 delegates and close to 100 guests.

I would like to extend my thanks to our Secretary General, Roberto Pistolesi (IT), and his team for organising the practical aspects of the conference as well as the superb social programme, culminating in a wonderful closing dinner at the Hofburg, and to our Vice President, Ivan Ahlert (BR), who did a great job as Programme Manager.

It was gratifying to see ideas and initiatives generated by our Strategic Planning Commission being implemented in Vienna, including the option to book lunch-tables, the possibility of continuing discussions with speakers over lunch and the new game available through the FICPI app. I am personally undecided whether I like the term “gamification”, but I would certainly like to congratulate the joint winners of the game, Christian Riege (FR) and Christian Wende (DE). I look forward to seeing them both at the 19th Open Forum in Cannes next year.

In another new initiative, all of the working sessions in Vienna were video-recorded and will be made available on the FICPI website soon, free of charge to all delegates to the Forum.

Update on FICPI’s work on client-attorney privilege

FICPI strongly supports the need for internationally harmonised rules on client-attorney privilege. Although “privilege” is a principle that only exists in common law countries, it does nevertheless affect all members and their clients who have interests in common law countries such as the United States. Without the protection afforded by privilege, advice given confidentially by any IP attorney, anywhere in the world, to his or her client may be ordered by a judge to be disclosed to the court, with the potential for great self-harm to the client’s case.

Without protection from disclosure provided by legal privilege, IP attorneys are sometimes less than candid in their advice – at least in writing – which unnecessarily complicates correspondence between a patent or trade mark attorney and their client and leads to potential misunderstandings and additional costs.

FICPI co-organised a high level colloquium on legal privilege for IP attorneys in 2013 in Paris and urged its addition to the work programme for WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP). This summer, there was a risk that privilege would be removed from the SCP’s agenda, but FICPI argued strongly for its retention. I am pleased to report that our efforts were successful and, thanks to the efforts of our Study and Work Commission (CET) and Deputy Reporter General, Kim Finnila (FI), in particular, FICPI will be invited to play an active role in a “sharing session” at the next session of the SCP in December this year.

Kim and Jerome Collin (FR) also represented FICPI at a plenary meeting of the B+ Group in Geneva on 1 October 2019, where a draft Agreement on Cross-Border Aspects of Client/Patent Attorney Privilege was introduced by core members of the Group. Apparently, it is hoped to vote on the proposed Agreement at the B+ Group’s 2020 meeting.

Substantive patent law harmonisation

As reported previously, FICPI’s proposals for a complete package for substantive patent law harmonisation have garnered much interest within the B+ Sub-group and, whilst in Geneva, Jerome Collin (FR) had an opportunity to present our established positions on the grace period, conflicting applications and prior user rights at the B+ Group plenary meeting.

I regret to report though that both FICPI and AIPPI were excluded from part of the earlier B+ Sub-group meeting when the members of the IT3 (AIPLA, BusinessEurope, IPO and JIPA) were scheduled to give an update of their work, the IT3 having also previously declined to share an advance copy of their proposals with FICPI or AIPPI.

This lack of transparency is unfortunate, especially in the light of FICPI’s considerable contributions to the discussions and is not conducive to developing a consensus based on the views and needs of a wide range of users of the IP system. It is hoped this will change in the future. It is understood that Peter Stromback, who is Head of the Swedish Patent Office (PRV), has very recently been elected as the new Chair of the B+ group and FICPI will seek to meet with him in the near future.

Upcoming activities: Goa ExCo and Seoul Symposium

The primary goal of the Study and Work Commission during its meeting in Singapore will be to prepare the agenda for the next FICPI Executive Committee meeting, which will take place in Goa, India on 14-19 March 2020. Invitations to the ExCo have now been sent out, and delegates are encouraged to register promptly since the ExCo will take place during high season in the Konkan region and hotel rooms and flights are expected to be very popular.

I am also pleased to report that preparations are almost complete for the FICPI Korea Symposium 2020, which will be held from 22-24 April 2020 at the Novotel Ambassador Seoul Gangnam Hotel. The brochure will be distributed in the next few weeks and I will look forward to seeing many of you there, where you can be sure to enjoy FICPI’s distinctive blend of high quality presentations on a range of topics of particular interest to the independent IP practitioner and the opportunity to meet with like-minded members of the FICPI global community to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Taken together, our upcoming activities in Singapore, Goa and Seoul represent a significant opportunity to raise our profile in Asia, something which I have set as a goal during this term. (See separate article on “The Asia Tour”.)

Final words

I hope you will enjoy the new look and content of our Newsletter. A great deal of hard work by many dedicated FICPI members has gone into getting us this far in our efforts to improve the way we communicate with you. If you have any comments or suggestions we would like to hear from you.

An important advantage of FICPI is the opportunity to build strong connections with other independent IP practitioners around the world, and I would remind you that on our website there is a Member Directory which allows all FICPI members to upload additional biographical information about themselves and their areas of expertise. Once you are logged in to the website, navigate to the Members Area via the link in the top right corner, where you will find pages for viewing and editing your profile.

If you have any difficulty in doing this, please contact our Webmaster, Rebecca Sandland.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks and months.

Julian Crump

FICPI’s view and involvement

Membership of FICPI brings you a unique opportunity to benefit from insights and updates on practice management, and trademark and patent law worldwide. Our meetings give you the opportunity to make new business connections in other firms, countries and specialisms; cement relationships and share knowledge.

Next steps

  • Ensure you have replied to Julian’s email of 21 October to confirm your commitment to FICPI’s new Communications Charter
  • Get involved – share your opinions and thoughts through the FICPI Blog or report on an event or developments in law through an article for the FICPI Newsletter
  • Make a note in your diary of the dates for the 2020 Open Forum in Cannes