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Leading AIPPI through a time of change

Felipe Claro, partner at Chile law firm Claro & Cia, will be taking over as AIPPI president for the next two years. He has ambitious goals for his tenure, including streamlining the association to be more responsive to members, as he tells Michael Loney

"My plan is to lead the changes agreed by the ExCo and try to make the association more flexible and more beneficial to members so we can attract more people,” he says.

Claro says he is keen for AIPPI to continue to realize its potential, as it has done for more than a century.

“We need to make a further movement at the board level to better impact the real world,” he says. There are a lot of good challenges presently.”

A special committee, Q237, has proposed a new role and structure for the executive committee, the Council of Presidents and the Bureau, and it now needs to be decided how that proposal will be handled.

“We have been working in this area for several years now,” says Claro. “The special committee and the Bureau will propose to the Executive Committee big changes in the way we organize, with everything with a view to streamlining the structures. Sometimes the structure of AIPPI can be a bit complicated to members. They say we could do things so they are easier to understand and more user friendly. We are working on that.

“We also have to understand that local support is very important to our members so we are not only focusing on international meetings but we also want to support regional and national meetings, and we have been sending people to support those groups.”

He believes the AIPPI, which has membership in more than 100 countries, is well placed. He points to the boom of design filings in China, the developments in plain packaging, and the debate over international exhaustion of copyright as examples of issues that AIPPI can help lead.

“Things are changing very rapidly and we cannot be observers. We want to be the main actors of the IP field,” says Claro. “We really want to help different countries to reach a common view or common way of doing things, without losing their own character.”

He draws an analogy to the solar system to show the different moving parts involved. “You have different planets, which in this case are the different countries. All of them are spinning round the sun, which would be the IP system. So the IP communities are like the solar system because they all have to be together but without clashing and without going out of the system.

“Another idea we think is very important is enforcement. In this example of the solar system enforcement is gravity. So everyone has to be in place and not crash other people and other countries and not go outside the system so you can rely on a very organised IP system. That’s why harmonisation is so important, so everyone knows their own place without invading the neighbour’s place.”

Claro says increasing the membership of the AIPPI is also important. “I would love to see more African countries involved in AIPPI,” he says. “We have two or three countries active in Africa, but so far there is little IP development and it is very hard to attract them. My question would be: what can we do to improve IP systems in Africa so they can have a real interest in joining the association?”

Claro also wants to increase revenues so that the association can provide more services and benefits to its members. “So far as we can streamline the structure, we can make everything easier and more connected among the groups,” he says. “Our association is a federation of national groups. The more interaction among the national groups there is, the better it is for the association.”

The AIPPI is in the process of hiring an executive director, a new position that is expected to be filled by the middle of next year. Claro says this week’s Congress in Toronto will provide a good opportunity for potential applicants to decide whether they would like to put themselves forward for the job.

“The applications for the new position will be received until the end of September so Toronto is a good place for some people to decide whether or not to apply to the position,” notes Claro.

See you in Rio next year!

Next year’s AIPPI Congress will have a distinctly Latin flavour. It is being held in Rio de Janeiro from October 8-13.

The specific content of the programme is still being drafted but Elisabeth Kasznar Fekete of Brazilian law firm Kasznar Leonardos gave AIPPI Congress News a preview of what to expect. Kasznar Fekete is president of the Brazilian Intellectual Property Association for the 2014-2015 term and president of the Brazilian national group for the AIPPI.

Brazil’s presidential elections on October 5 could exert a big influence on next year’s Congress. Marina Silva of the Socialist Party has a chance of ousting incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party.

“It will have an impact on next year because Brazil is seeking a new model and new policies that will lead the country to more economic growth,” says Kasznar Leonardos.

Brazil has a number of growing markets that are heavily dependent on IP including biodiversity and genetic resources, agriculture, airline technologies, and oil and gas.

The Brazilian Intellectual Property Association held a conference in August in which the impact of IP on the economy and competitiveness dominated discussions. The first ever study of economic issues on IP in Brazil was presented at the conference. Kasznar Fekete has written a paper to be submitted to the presidential candidates.

“We want to explain to these candidates what are the expectations and the concrete proposals that we have for policies that can improve the Brazilian system,” she says. “We would like candidates that support maintaining the strength and importance of IP rights for investors and maintaining the stability of IP law.”

One big issue is increasing the resources at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office so it can fight against its backlog. “In Brazil granting a patent can take 10 years 12 years, maybe even more,” says Kasznar Leonardos. “One of the main reasons for that is our patent examiners have eight or nine times more applications to examine than their colleagues in the US or Europe. The number of examiners is not sufficient.”

On the trade mark side, Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Trade approved accession to the Madrid Protocol. But the backlog means Brazil would not meet the Protocol’s requirements for which examination must be completed.

“The Madrid Protocol I don’t think will be the priority for the next government, but innovation is,” says Kasznar Fekete. She would like to see changes to make Brazilian IP law more flexible. Brazilian law is very restrictive on granting biodiversity patents, for example.

The conference is being held at the Windsor Barra Hotel Convention Center in the Barra da Tijuca borough in the west of Rio.

Rio plays a vital role in the country’s IP system, making it an ideal place to hold next year’s Congress. Kasznar Fekete notes that Brazil is unusual because its patent and trade mark office is not located in the capital of Brasília. As such, the specialised courts are mainly in Rio because the patent and trade mark office is there. The beaches are not bad either.

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