Five minutes with… Francesco Mattina, Community Plant Variety Office
Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP practitioner about their life and career
Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP practitioners on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Francesco Mattina, president of the Community Plant Variety Office in France.
Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?
I'm a lawyer, but not your typical one. I specialise in something pretty unique: plant variety rights (PVR). I have a passion for agriculture, and PVR is where law meets the beauty of nature and the wonder of genetics. Imagine protecting the creative work behind the plants and crops we see. It’s a mix of science, law, and a touch of green thumbs!
Talk us through a typical working day.
My days are like a jigsaw puzzle – different pieces fitting together. Sometimes I'm at home, other times at the office or travelling. Picture a blend of meetings, decision-making, office management, providing and giving feedback. Add to the mix strategic planning, having an impact on policies, and running the EU’s PVR system. It's like steering a ship while also keeping an eye on the horizon for new opportunities and partnerships.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, it's all about change and growth. We're moving to a new office, which is as exciting as it is daunting. Externally, we’re implementing a new strategic plan to make the PV system stronger and more visible. It's like juggling a delicate balancing act between internal growth and external impact.
Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?
It’s a balancing act. We are a small organisation and therefore you must improve your flexibility and ability to tackle different issues at once. It’s a bit like spinning plates, where each day brings its own set of surprises and challenges. Keeping flexible is key.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?
The thrill is in making decisions that truly make a difference, and that have an impact. It's about turning ideas into action. The stress? Navigating a sea of rules and red tape. The players in our field have a lot of different ways of doing things and established mindsets. You really must hone your diplomacy skills. It's like playing a complex game where the rules keep changing.
Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer/practitioner.
Think of it as a mix of being practical, resilient, and results-driven. It’s crucial to understand the technical side of things and to be a good mediator. It's like being a bridge between complex legal concepts and practical solutions.
What is the most common misconception about IP?
Many think it's all about creating monopolies for big corporations, but it's more than that. It's about balancing public interest with protecting innovations. You have to find the middle ground in a field often seen in black and white.
What or who inspires you?
I’m inspired by the values of cultural identity and the European project. I’m European at the core. My job, my career, my personal history. It’s about upholding what we stand for as Europeans, blending our heritage with our aspirations.
If you weren’t in IP, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t in IP, I’d probably be a farmer. There is something appealing about working with the land and balancing intellectual pursuits with the hands-on aspects of farming.
Any advice you would give your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to be fearless and persistent and to always look for new paths and never shy away from challenges. Also, always keep an open mind and a determined heart.