Monday, January 10, 2011

Greatest Start of the Year: Global Forum on Intellectual Property 2011 Singapore

The Global Forum on Intellectual Property (GFIP) 2011 in Singapore (6-7 January), a bi-annual event, was greater than ever before. It is clear Singapore is committed to becoming a IP hub. Over 95 professors and practitioners (lawyers, judges, inhouse counsels, business people), bloggers and readers who gave speeches about their reflections on the past, their thoughts about the present, and their forcasts for the future of IP. Theory, practice, strategies and tactics on the protection and enforcement of IP were all evocatively conveyed to an audience that was as learned as the speakers. Professor David Llewelyn, chairman of the GFIP and external director of the IP Academy of Singapore, mastermind behind the whole operation has outdone himself. The theme 'Turbulant Times: Onwards and Upwards for Intellectual Property?' was well chosen and during the opening ceremony even Mr K. Shanmugam, minister of home affairs and law gave his acte de présence.

IP rules the world economy

The first keynote address by Professor Peter Williamson (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and co-author of 'Dragons at Your Door: How Chinese Cost Innovation is Disrupting lobal Competition') was talking about IP and China.

Chinese innovation: using seemingly obsolete technology to gain cost reductions

Professor Williamson asserted that China's innovation did not fall out of the sky. Rather, it was an evolving innovation after 25 years of simple innovations. Look for example to BYD, the car manufacturer who started as a battery manufacturer. The 1990s had an emphasis on cost cutting, according to Professor Williamson. Now Chinese companies look at technologies that seem obsolete and see whether they can transform it into an innovative product. "Can I use low costs to do innovation? It's the thrust of Chinese innovation." Professor Williamson gave the example of the digital direct x-ray equipment. The market for x-ray equipment was first dominated by GE and Philips. The Chinese companies applied their low cost invention to mainstream application. It's not patentable, but it changes the market. Innovations are fast in China, because the cycles they make are frequent. In the West there are less developments between innovations. These Chinese innovations are on a large scale and made for commercialisaton.

Williamson said that patents in China were quite isolated; not many collaborations were going on. He said that China is going to find its own kind of institutional structure, unlike Japan who copied US institutions. which was not such a great success.
During a judges' debate which included the retired Chief Justice of the IPR Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court, Dr Jiang Zhipei, who is now senior advisor to Fangda Partners, a Chinese law firm in the commercial field, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Washington D.C., Hon. Randall R. Rader, made an appeal to all judges present: to learn as much as possible from each other and to look at the consequences of their judgments, and if they would not they will be sanctioned by the market.

Judge Rader: "If you [as a judge] will not oversee the consequences of your actions, you will be punished by the market"

Photo panelists from left to right: Justice Andrew Phang (Judge of Appeal, Supreme Court of Singapore), Judge Joachim Bornkamm (Presiding Judge, Federal Supreme Court of Germany), Hon. Randall R. Rader (Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Washington D.C.), Professor Llewelyn (moderator), Sir Richard Arnold, Judge of the High Court, Chancery Division, Hon. Robert van Peursem, Vice President, District Court of The Hague, the Netherlands. Dr Jiang Zhipei part of the panel is 0n the next photo.

To facilitate and not only regulate the market. Judge Rader was not only very informative but entertaining as well and he inspired at least two other speakers to give the audience a choice about the topics on which he was willing to speak. Judge Rader's dramatic descent from the stage to level with the audience was only replicated by Mr Tilman Lueder, head of the unit Copyright and Knowledge-based Economy, Directorate-General Market and Services, who gave attribution to the judge. Judge Rader's singing was only replicated by himself.

Dr Jiang Zhipei is the author of China IPR Law. He asserted that the patent system in China, that has just been amended in 2008, must be reformed and perfected. He offers 8 suggestions:

Dr Jiang: 8 improvements to China's patent law

1. China should deepen its reform and opening up policy, and constantly improve the development mechanism;

2. A stronger, more mature, transparent and consistent China is a prerequisite for the litigation process. Litigants should have confidence that China's litigation process system operates objectively and fairly;

3. Chinese courts should realize uniform and efficient IP judicial protection according to the Compendium of China's National IP Strategy;

4. The Supreme People's Court should establish and perfect relevant litigation procedures such as judicial IP authentication, procedures for expert witnesses, technical investigation and pre-trial interim measures;

5. Chinese courts will explore the possibility of establishing specialised IP tribunals accepting civil, administrative and criminal cases together, and to integrate and optimize resources;

6. Enhancing communication between countries is important;

7. To raise the level of enforcement judgments, strengthening of law enforcement cooperation between difference departments;

8. Summarizing the experience in the process is sometimes more important than just continuing.

More postings about the GFIP 2011 event will follow.

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