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Interview: Felipe Claro, AIPPI President

Worldwide harmonisation, prior art and plain packaging are among the biggest issues on AIPPI’s radar at the moment, says Felipe Claro, this year’s President of the association

Claro_Felipe_AIPPIFelipe Claro, AIPPI President is keeping a close watch on a number of important IP issues.

“Worldwide harmonisation has been from the very beginning the biggest issue for the association,” he says. “And enforcement has become very important in the Latin-American region, where we need to see how the Latin-American economies fit within the IP structure to better succeed. Early IP awareness initiatives are also welcome to educate young people and to reduce the improper use of IP rights.”

AIPPI’s study of topical IP issues provides a way forward, he says, not only for IP owners but also for IP users and regulators. The Rio Congress takes place between the World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games 2016, and Brazilian IP firms hosted a reception last night at the Maracanã Stadium. “This is a powerful message at a time when IP is permeating the daily lives and the many sports activities enjoyed by Brazilians in all walks of life,” says Claro, who is from Chile.

AIPPI’s goal is to have a positive impact on the understanding of IP around the world.

 “If you look at it from a distance, you will see that AIPPI is always dealing with change and it is always promoting positive change globally, so that the IP world can become less complicated and better understood by everyone,” he says.

The association is also trying to have a positive impact in other ways. For example, AIPPI’s commitment to environmental protection has moved the Association to apply for observer status before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In addition, the Rio Congress is the association’s first paperless Congress, which Claro says “is a giant step forward in the protection of the environment” for AIPPI.

Another important part of IP is prior art. “It is the reason why exclusive protection is given to IP innovators for a certain period of time. So we should also include prior art in the IP equation and the governmental bodies in charge of keeping this information available should redouble their efforts to maintain cheap, integrated and user friendly databases, which are accessible to all market players.”

Another issue on which AIPPI is keeping a close watch is plain packaging. It is taking a strategic approach to how it is ­trying to exert influence. Adecision in the WTO dispute on Australia’s plain packaging measures is expected in the first part of 2016. AIPPI considered the possibility of filing an amicus brief submission. Its Amicus Brief Committee analysed the practice before the WTO concerning the filing of amicus briefs and publicly available material concerning the present status of the proceedings, and concluded that any amicus brief it filed would more usefully be deployed at the appellate stage, rather than at what might be characterised as the ‘first instance’ panel stage.

“AIPPI believes its preferred course would be more effective because the scope of the panel decision will be known, permitting a more targeted and detailed focus in any brief filed” explains Claro. “Accordingly, AIPPI will continue to monitor developments in the WTO proceedings. AIPPI’s Resolution on Plain Packaging passed at its ExCo meeting in Helsinki, Finland in September 2013 is a public document that can be used by anyone in any submission or brief filed at the panel stage.”

Claro told AIPPI Congress News at last year’s event in Toronto that a goal was to make the association more flexible and beneficial to members. He says this remains a goal, and is being approached in three ways. One is extensive changes modernising AIPPI’s statutes and regulations, and updating its terminology, which should be confirmed at its General Assembly and Executive Committee meetings in Rio. The second is more proactive efforts to form National Groups in key regions of the world, as demonstrated by two new National Groups being admitted in Rio. The third is increased visibility with governmental organisations including IP offices, resulting in the observer status at OHIM in Alicante.

“More visible to the members may be things such as the recent recruitment of an Executive Director. John Bochnovic is here in Rio and the new website we will open after Rio by the end of October,” says Claro.

Increasing AIPPI’s LatAm membership

This year’s Congress has been a great opportunity for AIPPI to increase its presence in Latin America by showing new attendees what the association does and how it does it.

“We want to attract more new Latin-American members to show them the AIPPI work and experience, so that they can actively participate in the future and have a stronger voice in the Committees, the Executive Committee and other AIPPI bodies,” says Claro.

He notes the Brazilian Association of Intellectual Property (ABPI) has been generous in agreeing to change their annual meeting format this year. “The ABPI and its members are putting all their efforts into supporting the AIPPI Congress,” he says. “The result is that the single largest National Group representation at the Congress will be from Brazil.”

Claro identifies a number of IP challenges in the region.

“Latin America needs to diversify and improve its productive structures, train professionals, decentralise management and invest in innovation and education to reduce the underlying frustration of developing countries and to catapult their economies to be, one day, globally IP ­compliant,” he says.

He says attention has now shifted to the recent adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will need to be approved by the legislatures of the 12 countries involved.

“This is a tool that some Latin American countries now have at hand,” he says. “The fact that the TPP covers around 40% of global trade and also that the IP standards have been raised in several respects is something that should keep AIPPI busy for quite a while.”

He adds: “However, my personal concern is that I do not see initiatives to have these new IP standards replicated within the TRIPs Agreement; without that, this important WTO global treaty could lose its efficacy and risks becoming obsolete if these standards and vital matters (such as the internet) remain outside its scope. Obviously no one wants to see this happen. AIPPI is determined to offer whatever assistance it can to help in having more countries embrace these new IP standards.”

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