WIPO first introduced the annual World IP Day campaign in 2000, designating 26 April (the day on which the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970) as World IP Day, to raise public awareness about the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity and in supporting economic, social and cultural development.
As WIPO remarks in launching this year's theme, "across the globe, young people are stepping up to innovation challenges, using their energy and ingenuity, their curiosity and creativity to steer a course towards a better future". Our team at Fieldfisher is no different, so we thought it would be fun to interview a few of them for their thoughts on IP and the future. Below is a snapshot of their combined thoughts in response to a number of the interviewer's questions.
What attracted you to IP law? Why did you decide to specialise in IP law?
Responses to this question were quite varied, but with some similarities and all demonstrating interviewees' passion for IP. For Alexandre Mochon (from France), IP law is a way "to be connected with musicians and creators, and help them to protect the expression of their personality". Yasemin Koyuncu (also from France) has similar views, seeing IP law as a way to "be always connected to art, innovation, etc. Even though we are not artist or scientist, we contribute to art and innovation by protecting it".
Miryam Boston (from the UK) enjoys "focusing on copyright or trade mark law as with both these elements you are protecting someone's brand or creation, the heart and soul of their business". Nicolas Heremans (from Belgium) also likes to "assist businesses in protecting, defending and enforcing their crown jewels".
Aylin Saraf (from Germany) is particularly attracted to IP law as "you deal a lot with non-legal topics and therefore learn a lot of new things about other fields". Julia Hilmu Schuster (also from Germany) especially likes the fact that working in IP law "goes beyond purely legal issues, but always has a concrete focus on the specific subject matter". Finally, Laurent van der Bruggen (from The Netherlands) considers that "it is a field of law that quickly develops and is relevant due to technological innovation".
What is your favourite or most memorable IP case, Fieldfisher's or otherwise?
Each interviewee had a firm favourite case, many from their early days as a trainee. Subject matters ranged from prosthetic hands to nail guns to video games and covered all areas of IP law including parody and trade mark infringement. For Miryam it was being part of a great team acting for Ordnance Survey Ltd against 77M Ltd, a highly technical case concerning copyright and database rights and breach of contract, and seeing the case from the pre-action stages through to receiving a judgment in our client's favour.
What do you think is the biggest IP issue facing clients this year?
Many of the interviewees thought that one of the biggest issues facing clients this year and in the future is the metaverse. As Laurent explains the "metaverse offers lots of opportunities for IP rights holders to sell their products but the metaverse may also cause adverse effects such as infringements on trade marks or when trade marks are used for other products that possibly could harm the reputation of a company's trade marks". Yasemin recommends that "companies need to rethink their trade mark registration strategy, to make sure that they are protected in the metaverse, and also to be careful about the scope of the territory in the licence agreements".
As well as the metaverse, Alexandre regards developments in blockchain as a major IP issue for clients this year and for years to come. Luxury rights-owners are increasingly securing the authenticity of their creations with blockchain, but will infringers find (as they always do) new ways to bypass these protections? Finally, he highlights the whole issue of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and what exact copyright or other IP regulation will be applicable.
Other buzz areas for IP this year include AI and streaming, particularly in the UK, as Miryam notes. There have been very recent consultations and industry and legislative discussion on the implications and changes needed to overhaul the whole operation in these areas and how IP can lead or support these changes. The second UK consultation on AI took place earlier this year and the government's response is currently awaited – watch this space!
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