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From FRAND to the IP crisis, Fordham hits the hot topics



James Nurton


Want to know what the most interesting, complex and controversial IP issues are today? The programme for the 22nd annual Fordham IP Law & Policy Conference is a good place to start

The latest version of the programme – all 44 pages of it – was posted online on Friday and as usual it reflects some of the most pressing IP issues from around the world.

FRAND and Standard Essential Patents are there, of course, as are SPCs and the UPC from Europe – the latter with a panel featuring judges, lawyers, EPO representatives and in-house counsel. There is also a tantalising session comparing the new Inter Partes Review at the USPTO and Oppositions at the EPO, featuring speakers from the US, Japan and Europe.

Broader policy issues are also prominent, with the opening session on "Multilateral/FTA Issues & Policy" featuring views from Washington DC and Brussels. At the back end of the week, "Crisis in IP or Not?" promises to look at the "anti-IP boomerang". For those attendees that need a lift at 7.30am, the sunrise seminar, "Judicial Influence in Trademark Law; Why SCOTUS has Little and CJEU has Less and Less", at which Fordham professor of law Hugh Hansen (right) will speak, will be more invigorating than a double espresso.

I also look forward to seeing how the panel on "US Patent Law: Recent Developments" (which includes Jay Thomas and Hal Wegner and is moderated by Martin Adelman) manage to cover the various controversial Supreme Court and Federal Circuit case and stick to their allotted time of 45 minutes. There will be no lack of strong opinions there.

Some of the most lively discussions are likely to be in the copyright field. US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante (right) and European Commission copyright supremo Maria Martin-Prat have top billing in "Copyright Review Around the World". There is also a 65-minute session on Aereo, with what look to be a range of views represented on the panel, while another panel on "Orphan Works & Extended Collective Licensing" addresses a highly topical and emotive issue. European copyright practitioners will note from the preview for "EU Copyright: Recent Developments" that it looks like Lord Justice Floyd has prepared a provocative presentation.

I should at this point declare an interest as Managing IP is a media partner and I will be participating at Fordham. I’m delighted to be moderating a session on trade mark litigation in the EU, featuring Judge Allan Rosas of the CJEU and a great panel from across Europe. I’m sure we will also pick up some unfinished debates from previous years in the sessions on "Recent Developments in the EU" and "Global Legislative Developments".

Trade mark practitioners will also be queuing up for the sessions on "TTAB and OHIM Boards of Appeal: A Comparison" which is preceded by a live hearing of the TTAB case Promark Brands v GFA Brands.

Thanks to the reputation built up over the past 20 years, it goes without saying that Professor Hansen and his team have once again secured many top-notch speakers for the faculty, including the leaders of the USPTO and Mexico’s INPI, the president of OHIM and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. There are too many judges to count (four active and retired judges just from the UK, I think) as well as many notable academics and practitioners.

But as Hugh always emphasises, one of the features of Fordham is that you could swap the stage and audience and still have the same quality of debate. The programme specifically recognises this fact this year, and there are designated audience members for some panels.

If all that sounds over-enthusiastic, here’s one note of reservation: as regular participants at Fordham will know, the speakers and panellists can change right up to the last minute, so do keep checking the website for the latest information.

More information about the conference, which takes place on April 24 and 25, is online at the Fordham IP Institute site. We will of course be reporting on discussions as much as we can on managingip.com too.

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