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MIP International Women's Leadership Forum 2017 - highlights

Alice O'Donkor, London

Alice O'Donkor reports from our latest Women in IP event, held at the Waldorf Hilton in London, where topics including the UPC, Brexit, brand management and leadership were discussed

Womenip-london17-audienceFor the third consecutive year, Managing Intellectual Property hosted its annual women’s leadership forum in London. On Thursday, private and in-house practitioners from all over the world came together to discuss best practice issues and review recent developments in IP law.

After some croissants and a cup of coffee, the day began with an opportunity for delegates to get up to speed with the state of the Unitary Patent and UPC. The panel offered an update on the UPC and information about the impact of Brexit.

As projected by the UPC Preparatory Committee in January 2017, the provisional application phase for the UPC should begin in May; the sunrise period for opt-outs will start in September and the UPC should be up and running in December.

Delegates heard that the UK could remain in the UPC if it can agree with other members on a new approach to the role of the CJEU enforcement and the UPC structure.

IP and the digital world

Womenip-london17-birgitIn a panel led by Birgit Clark of Baker McKenzie, we heard how well-known brands are adapting IP protection strategies to the digital world. Virgin’s Victoria Wisener used some case studies to illustrate how social media can pose a huge challenge for brands protecting their representation, and highlighted typical instances of derogatory reference and inadvertent adoption of brand names as events that are hard to take action against.

IFPI’s head of international Xenia Iwaszko discussed the steady growth of licensed products in the recording industry and increasing awareness of copyright protection on a global scale. However, like her fellow panellists, Iwaszko said that in some situations, the ability of a lawyer or content owner to protect their IP can be restricted as demonstrated in certain platforms where site owners reject accountability for content licensing.

Managing your brand

Womenip-london17-drinksThe second half of the day focused on handling international IP issues, tips for managing cross-border trade mark portfolios in the light of European trade mark reform, tackling anti-counterfeiting, life sciences and licensing in a commercial context.

We also took time to assess the impact of artificial intelligence and how IP could be affected by futuristic trends such as the use of blockchain platforms, digitisation and common buzzwords such as big data. Borrowing the words of Neil Wilkof, delegates heard how “the ever-expanding penetration of digitization” has triggered “issues of secrecy…[and] privacy data”.

Be resourceful

On anti-counterfeiting, Helen Saunders of Incopro told delegates that brand protection issues are “global, big in value and fast-moving”. The best anti-counterfeiting practices are both reactive and pro-active. In addition, practitioners heard that they must make good use of their professional and customer networks and data at their disposal.  

This point was reiterated by Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s global privacy officer Samantha Simms. Describing data as “the new oil and the new asbestos”, Simms said that due diligence in licensing and commercial transactions has never been more important. Jillianne Osborn of Vodafone urged delegates to be certain of the terminology they are using in contracts and to ensure that the licensee and licensor are both certain of what they are getting.

Power champions raise other champions

Womenip-london17-leadershipThe final panel focused on the importance of leadership in our careers. Each panellist shared their approach to leadership and how they have been influenced by past leaders and mentors. As a leader, Julia Holden, senior partner of Trevisan and Cuonzo’s in Milan, said that she has learned to be open and to remain excited about what she does.

We also heard that an effective leader takes interest in the people they work with and permits them to establish their strengths by broadening the scope of their professional undertakings.

The panel encouraged women to recognise their value in the workplace, to negotiate their salaries when possible and seek roles that will broaden their skill set. Women were also advised to establish a work-life balance, to be confident, to be authentic to themselves, authentic in their leadership style and to strive for the life that they deserve.

Our next event, Managing IP’s International Patent Forum, will be held on March 8 to 9, at the same location - The Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London. If you would like to attend, please visit our events page for more details.

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter @ManagingIP. You can also find more information about the network at #ipwomen and our Women in IP website.


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