IP experts, seen here measuring their client up for his new patent suit Readers of this weblog will know that team member Jeremy has a passionate interest in intellectual property events: he organises them, speaks in them, chairs them — and sometimes writes the programmes, selects the speakers, picks the bullet-points and then speed-blogs them on the day. His interest comes from various perspectives. As a former full-time educator, he has long been fascinated in the way that difficult IP subjects can be presented and explained to audiences with different sectoral backgrounds, educational aspirations, professional qualifications and informational expectations. As a seeker after the perfect catalyst, he loves the way that events can kick-start initiatives, shape opinion, raise hackles or diffuse criticism. And as a social animal, he enjoys the interaction of minds through the relaxed and informal networking that follows in the wake of even the most rigidly organised event. Not for him the webinar — far better to have a roomful of real people. For him the conference, the seminar, the lecture are the ultimate social media. Jeremy doesn't just write conference programmes, though. He enjoys dissecting the programmes stitched together by others. Through this dissection process he senses the way events evolve to meet real or imagined needs of the participants (he hates the word "attendees", and "delegates" is even worse — a roomful of recently qualified lawyers in search of continuing professional developments haven't been meaningfully delegated to do anything; it's not as if we're talking about international congresses). Chinese patent law evolves swiftly these days: "The thing about those Chinese patent law sessions is that half an hour after you've had one you could do with another" Today this Kat has been dissecting an event which is a pretty tough proposition for anyone looking for a back-row seat and a chance to doze quietly off in between nibbling the mints and doodling on the venue's note pads. He has found a conference that actually consists of almost nothing but workshops. This is Patent Validity and Infringement, a daringly imaginative offering from Butterworths Conferences in a couple of months time. Apart from a 15 minute welcome from the chairman at the beginning of the day, a 15 minute summary at the end and communal lunch and refreshments, the entire day is taken up with Workshops. Six critically important jurisdictions have been selected and, in each of the day's six sessions, two Workshops run in parallel, thus giving participants a chance to work in smaller groups and making the presenters do each Worskshop twice. The six are the USA, Germany, France, the Netherlands, China and the UK — not a bad choice, particularly since China has now eclipsed Japan as the Far East stakes, at least for the time being. Having had some small experience in this regard, the Kat feels that, so long as the event runs to time and nothing gets rushed, it's best to opt for the second of the two sessions on the jurisdictions you are most interested in, since the presenter will be warmed up and indeed sharpened up by the questions and discussions that arise in the first session — not that the panellists will need much sharpening up. All six are big names from high-profile firms. This Kat has chaired at least one of them in the past, an exhilarating experience from which he emerged with the knowledge that he now knew what you get when you cross a live wire with a loose cannon. The market for commercial intellectual property conferences is a tough place to compete. IP has a multiplicity of networking and event-organising bodies that tug upon the loyalty of their members: think INTA, AIPPI, LES, FICPI, MARQUES, ECTA, PTMG, AIPLA, ALAI, TIPLO, IPLA APAA to name but a few. At the other end of the spectrum are the webinars, podcasts and various solitary means whereby IP practitioners and their clients can pick up CPD points and handy hints without anyone actually seeing them. The commercial private sector for IP events must not only produce top-quality events if it expects people to pay for them: it must also innovate and experiment. This set of Workshops looks as if it's doing just that and the IPKat wishes it the best of luck. Merpel adds, if it's any good, everyone else will be doing this next year … Patent Validity and Infringement, 14 April 2011, is being held at what looks like a secret venue in Central London. You can find further details of the programme here and of the panel of experts here. If anyone who reads this and is attending would like to write up an account of his or her six-workshop day, the Kat will be delighted to consider it for publication.
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