Interview: AIPPI Congress Chair Luiz Henrique do Amaral
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Interview: AIPPI Congress Chair Luiz Henrique do Amaral

Ahead of this year’s AIPPI Congress, Michael Loney spoke to organising committee chair Luiz Henrique do Amaral about education, networking and the social programme



Amaral_Luiz_Henrique
Luiz Henrique do Amaral

Luiz Henrique do Amaral has had a busy few months in his role as chair of the organising committee for this year’s Congress. Do Amaral, who has been attending the AIPPI events since the 1992 Congress in Japan, notes some novel features this year. Following Toronto last year, this is the first Congress to take place annually, rather than every two years.

“It was a challenge being the first Congress to do that and not knowing how people would react but the turnout shows this was a right decision and we are going on the right path,” he says. About 1,600 people are registered for the Congress.

The Congress is also going entirely paperless this year. Participants can download the conference app to view the programmes, documents and presentations. “There will be a lot of new things happening this year. When you put all the changes in the same pot you are always concerned but I hope we have a very successful meeting,” he says.

Do Amaral identifies three important things for attendees in Rio: education, networking and the social programmes.

Education

There is much to discuss in the sessions. “We have very interesting topics, not only the questions that will be discussed during the Congress but also during the workshops and panel sessions,” he says. “We’ll deal with cutting-edge issues.”

Do Amaral highlights the issues of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for standard-essential patents and patent law in biotech and agriculture in Latin America as two examples of important topics for discussion.

“The issue concerning the PDP and patent law in biotech and the agricultural field is a very important topic for Latin America and in particular to Brazil,” he says. “We are a very important agribusiness country, not only for the production of grains like soya beans and corn and canola but also for beef. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef in the world so that is a very important topic.”

On the trade mark side, one important topic is to what extent pharmaceutical trade marks should be controlled or limited because of generics.

Do Amaral reports that the host country for this year’s Congress is facing a number of IP challenges. One of the biggest is the double examination of pharma patents. A 2001 Brazil law amendment empowered the National Health Surveillance Agency to conduct a review of pharmaceutical patent application, in addition to that performed by the BPTO.

“In Brazil we are unhappy with the situation. It creates a lot of instability in the system. It shifts patentability examination to the board of health,” he explains. “TRIPs is very clear that there should not be double examination of patentability issues but that is happening in Brazil. That’s a very serious challenge.”

Another big challenge is the patent and trade mark application backlog in Brazil. “Things don’t seem to improve,” he says. “On the contrary, since the economic crisis that started this year the government has even announced some cuts that will affect the number of examiners and people working at the Patent Office. It will get worse before it gets better.”

Do Amaral says this affects innovation and investment. “A patent that is pending for a long time creates two combined problems,” he says. The first is rights holders find it hard to get investment because it is hard to assume ownership if a patent if pending. The second is potential competitors such as generics also have a challenge because they do not know if a patent will issue or not, and therefore whether they will be infringing or not.

“It creates a problem for both the right holder and potential competitors in the generic industry because you don’t know if that patent will mature or not,” he says. “So if you invest, the patent owner may in the future say ‘you infringed my patent, you have to pay me and stop doing what you are doing now’. So that’s a very bad problem that was created by the backlog.”

Networking

Do Amaral notes the convention centre is tailored for networking because the space is entirely booked for the AIPPI Congress. “Everyone there will be participating in the Congress so it will be very easy for people to see each other,” he says. “And connecting with the people you want should be easier than very large convention centres in which you can lose yourself.”

More than 400 European delegates are attending and about 170 people from North America. But this year’s event is sure to have more of a Latin flavour than usual, given its location. “It is going to be a little bit different in terms of having a large number of Latin Americans, especially Brazilians,” he says.

Do Amaral notes that this year’s Congress has the largest number of corporate members in AIPPI history ever. “That’s a very good sign,” he says. “It means the corporations are looking more and more to AIPPI to connect the issues and align the priorities.”

Social programmes

Every evening during the Congress there is an event organised by AIPPI or connected to the association. “This will I hope bring people together and we will have fun too,” he says.

The opening ceremony and welcoming reception took place last night at the Windsor Barra Hotel. There is a cultural evening tonight starting at 7pm at the Copacabana Palace Hotel at which you can enjoy a samba parade. The closing dinner on Wednesday takes place at the Jockey Club.

Soccer fans will be excited to hear the Brazilian IP Association (ABPI) has also organised a reception on Tuesday night at the Maracanã Stadium. “This year we were able to combine all the IP firms in Brazil in one single event which will take place at the Maracanã Stadium,” he says. “That is quite an achievement because as you can imagine putting together all of the law firms, and convincing everybody to put down the weapons to get together and have a nice event takes time and patience! I am very happy we are doing that.”

Do Amaral urges attendees to take advantage of Rio – just not while the Congress is on. He notes that the social programmes will be exciting and allow attendees to enjoy some of Rio’s sites.

“My first recommendation is stay in the conference no matter how beautiful the weather is outside and how nice the beaches look from the hotel!” he half jokes. “Participate in the programme and make sure that you’re not distracted to go elsewhere.”


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