|A first time kitten at AIPPI amazed by being in the|
presence of such passionate IP lawyers
"This week, hundreds of IP enthusiasts descend upon Milan for AIPPI’s 2016 Congress from all corners of the globe. Although ranging from fresh faced young kittens to the most grizzled courtroom tigers, Congress attendees are united in their passion and enthusiasm for IP.
Truly a nirvana for any present or aspiring IP nerd, the corridors of the MiCo conference centre are set to hum for the next 3 days with the earnest chatter of the cognoscenti of the IP world, at last let loose to discuss the finer points of the arcane and at times esoteric area of law we (sometimes) know and (usually) love in a safe place, amongst others of their kind.
For, in the wild, the IP lawyer can be a rare breed in certain climes, destined to roam alone or in small packs, amongst our related brethren who have no need to know the difference between originality and inventiveness (nor need to apply either to their daily routine!). Not so in these hallowed halls.
As a first time participant, this author was struck by the genuine interest plainly on show as practitioners shared the latest developments in their jurisdictions and vigorously debated points of comparative jurisprudence in every nook and cranny of the venue.
The first day’s proceedings are traditionally dominated by meetings of the study question committees. Each year, four sets of questions directed towards different topical IP issues are set. In the year's run-up before the Congress, each National Group discusses and formulates a response to the question based on the law and policy of that country. National Groups respond to the questions by way of individual reports, which are then reviewed and collated into a final summary report based on all responses from National Groups. From this, the pieces of the IP puzzle come together at the Congress where participants are able to contribute to the drafting of resolutions by the study question committees. The AIPPI resolutions are intended to represent, as best they can, the broad consensual view of the global IP community present, and help provide clarity and direction to the development of the law in difficult, emerging areas. Resolutions are then debated and refined in committee sessions and then in open plenary sessions before finally going up to the executive committee for approval.
I participated in drafting part of the UK group’s submission on the copyright study question, which was directed to the currently red hot topic of linking (including hyperlinking, deep linking, framing and embedding) of copyrighted content, the “making available” right, and communication to the public. Accordingly, together with Jonny Moss of Hogarth Chambers, this author flew the flag for Old Blighty (and braced himself for the full force of the intellectual fury of a Community jilted by You Know What). Fortunately, those fears were unfounded and in fact the only joke about Britain’s intended (?) secession from its senses (in the eyes of some), which is soon (?) to result in its permanent secession from the EU, was from its own representatives.
In the copyright session, around 24 countries were represented (see National Group reports and Summary report here). The majority of countries made substantive contributions to the vigorous and lively debate. Naturally, the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of different national laws gave rise to, at times, robust and vehemently expressed differences of opinion, but good humour and civility were prevailed throughout. In the copyright session, clear voting blocks emerged on the key question of whether all the forms of linking discussed should be considered to be communications to the public or whether they should be treated differently.
One side, led by the Australian and Swedish groups, (correctly, in my opinion) noted the underlying technical similarity between the forms and consequently argued (less correctly, with respect, in my opinion) that their treatment should be equally similar. The other group, largely comprised of European groups (including the UK…for now) cited the relevant difference in economic and practical impact on the right holder flowing from the different forms of linking. For example, hyperlinking to a starting page or “deep linking” directly to a deeper level page on a website takes the user to the right holder’s site where they view the work in the context the right holder intended it to be viewed and which allows the right holder to accrue the attendant benefits of the user visiting their page (e.g. advertising revenue from page visits, accumulation of goodwill and reputation in the site and/or the goods and services offered on it, etc.). Framing or embedding of a work, however, does not require the user to visit the right holder’s website and in most cases will not generate the economic and practical benefits for the right holder that they would otherwise enjoy from hyperlinking and deep linking. In the end, the view of the group advocating for different treatment of framing and embedding won the day (on this point at least) by the narrowest of margins, 11-10. However, how this position fares in the plenary session remains to be seen.
Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I was not able to attend the AIPPI first time participants and young members’ function, but have been reliably informed by the AmeriKat that the organisation has been making a concerted effort to encourage the participation of younger members, which certainly seems to be a positive step.
The day concluded with a lavish opening ceremony celebrating Italian innovation and creativity through the centuries (!!) Gigantic screens showcased the natural and manmade beauty of the country and a cavalcade of its iconic products, brands and contributions to world culture. Afterwards, participants were treated to a cornucopia of regional Italian cuisine, with Northern, Central and Southern Italy all represented in the dishes on offer. Further intellectual delights await as the panel and plenary sessions begin and the conference kicks into full gear. Andiamo!"