Why is FICPI like a business community with family members from around the world?

The entire IP community the world over is privileged to meet their counterparts and colleagues year round through IP conferences, seminars and workshops that are organised by various national and international bodies. 

Many professionals involved in IP are keen to attend the events because so much knowledge is imparted and they offer an opportunity to meet clients and potential clients. 

There are so many events to choose from that it becomes difficult for professionals to select the most rewarding to attend. Most are beneficial to the participants in one way or another. If you wanted, you could attend a conference or a seminar every month; sometimes even several times in a month. 

However, most independent IP professionals have to select which meeting they should attend with care. This is certainly true for me, and I would like to share my thoughts on why FICPI meetings are always worthwhile attending.

In the IP world, organisations such as INTA, APAA, AIPPI, IIPLA, AIPLA  and ECTA are recognised globally. FICPI events also take place a number of times each year but, in my view, FICPI meetings are a little different.

FICPI events are special because they are largely attended by like-minded people who are deeply engaged in IP practice and who have rich experiences to share. 

The sessions are conducted by experienced professionals, with topics that are hand picked and crafted to discuss IP in a wider context, and are designed to encourage audience participation. What makes FICPI events really special though is the spirit of the meetings and the people attending them.

From my perspective, there are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not to register for a FICPI event…  and which make you smile:

Organisation and setup

The meetings are always held in a wonderful city or part of the world, such as Melbourne (World Congress 2012), Cape Town (World Congress 2015), Toronto (World Congress 2018), Venice (Open Forum 2017) and Vienna (Open Forum 2019). In 2020, the Open Forum will be in Cannes.

The destinations for FICPI meetings are selected with due consideration to participants’ interests beyond meeting and learning. The locations allow every participant to take a deep breath and relax with friends, family and colleagues. There’s always an opportunity to learn more about the history of such places while venturing into city museums, viewing artefacts and local architecture.

The meeting venue is always a high quality hotel and receptions are held in locations which are carefully pre-selected by the “FICPI Master of Ceremonies”. Everything is organised such that the whole working programme, consisting of working sessions, lectures and workshops, and the social side runs smoothly and to the highest standards.

The organising team ensures that our precious time can and should be spent on what really matters at such a conference, namely meeting colleagues and friends, refreshing and building long-lasting relationships, creating new ideas how to develop our profession to meet future challenges, making friends and just enjoying being with and being part of the FICPI family.

The FICPI family

Why does FICPI see itself as a business family? Because we are one in my view, and I don’t think I’m the only member who feels this way.

The feeling starts when you attend your first event. My first FICPI meeting was the World Congress in Melbourne in 2012. I knew very few people when I arrived but I received a very warm welcome and immediately felt accepted as part of the FICPI family.

FICPI meetings embrace first time attendees with warmth, and FICPI organises special events for them which allow first time attendees to mingle smoothly.

In fact, FICPI does a lot to welcome first-timers. As other bodies do, FICPI has a welcome reception. This always includes a special group of people such as FICPI officers and experienced FICPI members who actively welcome the first timers… and we all know that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. As I was told by a good friend of mine from Korea, who was a first-timer in Vienna, he felt very welcome and enjoyed the Open Forum a lot.

What helps to create this family atmosphere is the strict rule that during the FICPI events there are no private receptions and functions. And so, the whole business family stays together throughout the programme; you do not have to search for the best reception of the day or run from one event on the programme to another. 

Private receptions and functions are not required as there is a wonderful social programme for the delegates… and for those accompanying them. And every night, the legendary FICPI bar is open; a good opportunity to refresh existing connections and build new ones.

As I have now attended several meetings I already know who I’ll meet there; it doesn’t require lots of email exchanges beforehand – you already know that your contacts will be attending, plus a lot of new people to meet and connect with.

And last, but not least: FICPI events are family friendly. You will see delegates bringing their families with small children. For example, the youngest first time attendee in Vienna was just five months old! 

High quality working sessions and a wonderful social programme

The working sessions cover all fields of the daily practice of independent IP professionals. 

This includes reports from IP judges and Office representatives from around the world, including reports on recent case law and upcoming changes in legal frameworks. It also includes new ideas for your own daily practice, such as office organisation and digitisation challenges like the “paperless office”.

Modern and interactive

We started a new initiative at the last Open Forum: gamification using the FICPI App. It proved to be a good platform to connect and find specific people… with a fun element.

Around a third of the attendees used it: around 150 of those who were present at the meeting.  

One of the best challenges was the quest to find the delegate who had a selfie on his phone with the actor and martial arts expert Chuck Norris. So, if you were up for earning the points, you had to search around and talk with a lot of people. And this was a fun way to establish a lot of new connections. 

Together with another Christian, I was lucky to gain more points than everybody else and so we won the gamification, had fun and created new business relationships.

Getting you out of your comfort zone

The morning running session is a very nice institution. 

You can meet a group of active FICPI members and explore the neighbourhood around the meeting venue. And it gives you the chance to stay in shape, as the food at the receptions and the dinners is always delicious but rather rich.

Impact on the IP profession worldwide

The working meetings of the FICPI Commissions, such as the Study & Work Committee (CET) , Professional Excellence Commission (PEC) and the Communications Commission are an integral part of every FICPI meeting. Furthermore, the FICPI meetings are also attended by external representatives including Presidents or Vice Presidents from the IP5 Offices or senior judges from jurisdictions of interest.

Sharing thoughts is an important element to the meetings, and the FICPI sessions allow you to have discussions with the people that can really influence the IP systems. 

Also, FICPI via its Study & Work Committee groups works on position papers, amicus curiae briefs and the like – so FICPI not only watches but co-develops new ideas in the intellectual property systems worldwide.

Does FICPI membership pay off for you?

As with most groups, if you go to FICPI meetings to gain immediate profit from them, you might not get what you are looking for.

FICPI is a worldwide network of independent IP professionals and it is based on long-lasting, trusted relationships between its members.

FICPI has a clear code of conduct, which provides a stable and reliable framework for working with members.

And so, if I need assistance abroad, I know I can call on FICPI members in that country or region. And because of my attendance at the FICPI meetings, I usually already know some of those contacts personally.

Finally, I can confirm that FICPI membership pays off for my own practice, in terms of knowledge, experience, network and of course my own business – just as one would expect when you gain the opportunity to meet some of the best and most renowned independent IP professionals from all over the world on regular basis.

Next steps 

How FICPI makes IP attorneys more effective 

As the only organisation exclusively for independent IP attorneys, FICPI members benefit from a strong shared interest in promoting common solutions and advocacy for private practice. 

FICPI events connect groups of people who share common goals, concerns and a commitment to quality and provide an ideal opportunity to gather insights from community on legal and professional areas, both practice-related and topics of patent and trade mark law.