Jurgita Randakevičiūtė, PhD Candidate,
Vilnius University Faculty of Law, Scholarship Holder at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich
The Tenth WIPO Advanced Intellectual Property Research Forum has recently taken place at the World Intellectual Property Organization providing IP specialists with plenty food for thought with regard to the direction, in which the IP legal order is evolving, and how this development interacts with our fast changing reality.
The annual ‘WIPO Advanced Intellectual Property Research Forum’ was held at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva on 24-26 May 2016. For the tenth time, this seminar was organized by WIPO in strong cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which every year is actively represented by Dr. Guy Pessach. A rather inclusive topic of the forum ‘The Theory and Practice of Intellectual Property – Taking Stock and Looking Ahead’ allowed organizers to gather a number of experienced IP scholars and doctoral candidates representing various fields of IP law from geographically variable institutions, as well as IP practitioners from WIPO (the full program is accessible here).
The three-day forum encompassed all main IP law areas (copyright, patent, trademark and design protection), as well as closely related ones, such as, trade secret and consumer protection, unfair competition etc. Most of the speakers discussed recent legal developments, which, both on national and international level, will have an impact on the future of IP law, e.g. the interpretation of doctrine of equivalents after the introduction of the America Invents Act in the United States of America (US); recent legislative developments related to trade secret protection in the European Union (EU) and the US; impact of The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership on the regulation of circumvention of technological protection measures in the copyright field; the EU trademark reform with regard to the certification marks,etc.
Many of the participants actively questioned, how newly enacted or forthcoming regulations interact with technological and scientific development. The interaction was mainly discussed in two directions. One group of presentations analysed the adequacy of current or future IP regulations with regard to the level of technological and scientific advancement (e.g. the legal challenges for protecting trade secrets that are stored in a cloud; whether ‘the use of the work as work’ could be a more appropriate test for evaluating copyright infringements in cases that emerge due to the new technologies and etc.). Another group of participants asked whether existing IP regulations efficiently contribute to the dissemination and access of knowledge, appropriately reward its creators and implementators and, in this way, promote innovation (e. g. the effect of access to clinical dossiers on the drug innovation).
The main controversies among the participants were related to the balance of interests between IP right owners and users of the IP law-protected objects, e.g. there were diverging opinions on the access to medicine and the scope of patent protection, as well as active discussions on the IP regulation with regard to the employees’ inventions and the non-competition clauses in work contracts, etc. In general, many presentations led into vivid debates on the purpose, extent, necessity and possibilities of amendments in IP and related fields of law, which, later on, continued during the coffee breaks between the sessions.
The afore-described forum could be regarded as an appropriate illustration of the current situation in IP law, where, despite a clear trend to question the existing regulation, it is hard for the IP community to reach a consensus on the issue, in which direction IP legal order should develop. Such a situation to a large extent seems to be related to the complexity of the objects that require regulation, the internationalisation of the IP legal system, different levels of development of the interested parties, and a short period of time to properly understand the on-going social and scientific processes. Nevertheless, it is great to see, that IP specialists are reacting to such changes and, both, from practical and theoretical perspectives, are questioning even the fundamental categories of IP legal order, which, on the one hand, could be regarded as relatively new, but on the other hand, already may not be able to keep the pace with our dynamic reality.