The goals and objectives set out in FICPI’s strategic plan are often underpinned and driven forwards by work carried out in committees. FICPI’s Study & Work Committee (CET) is the largest of FICPI’s committees, with eight special interest sub-groups and over 200 active participants.

As part of FICPI’s efforts to broaden participation, and to fit in with its annual tour of IP offices in Asia, we held a meeting ofFICPI’s Study & Work Committee in November 2019 in Singapore, alongside the Seminar already reported here.

We were very pleased to be joined by 17 observers from Singapore and surrounding countries and regions. We also opened the CET meetings to local observers, but this was by far the largest number of attendees at such a meeting.

Planning projects and Resolutions

The main purpose of the November meeting was to discuss the status of ongoing projects and to plan the presentation of these at the next meeting of FICPI’s Executive Committee in Goa, in March 2020. 

If the CET is going to ask the Executive Committee to pass a Resolution, it needs to be sure that the necessary preparation has been carried out. 

Resolutions can arise from long-term projects, such as that on Patent Law Harmonisation, or may become necessary as a result of concerns raised by our members (perhaps through one of the study groups), such as the way EPO examiners are increasingly requiring undue amendments to the description of a patent application.

The Executive Committee may also be involved at the early stages of a study project, by approving a questionnaire for distribution to all of FICPI’s constituent national groups or to the membership as a whole. Such questionnaires help highlight issues in certain jurisdictions and provide indications where an eventual resolution may need to be presented to improve the functioning of the global IP system or to safeguard IP holders’ rights.

Sometimes, a CET meeting can be a way of deciding which issues not to take forward. In Singapore, for example, we discussed the ongoing CRISPR priority case at the EPO, but decided not to further consider a broad resolution on the interpretation of the relevant rules on priority rights, instead agreeing to push for a resolution on priority rights in trade mark applications.

Arranging workshops 

The Study & Work Committee also runs a number of workshops at the Executive Committee meeting, which we can use to discuss issues in smaller, interest-focused groups than the full meeting. This can be very useful in understanding the view of a geographically diverse collection of attorneys.  

We agreed to run workshops at the Executive Committee meeting in Goa in March 2020 on the patenting of antibodies, divisional applications, SEP and FRAND and evidence collection.

Resolutions in the pipeline

Other resolutions that are planned for Goa include:

  • Expedition of examination procedures for trade mark applications
  • Liability of fulfillment by service providers
  • The protection of partial designs
  • Fee reductions by IP Offices
  • Simulations and other inventions in the virtual world
  • Subject matter eligibility 
  • Opposition proceedings (pre- and post-grant) and revocation
  • Non-Latin letter trade marks.

We also use face-to-face meetings to plan attendance of FICPI members at various external meetings; mainly those held at IP Offices.  

We benefit by having FICPI Bureau members at our meetings, allowing easy and efficient discussion of which meetings we should attend for study, lobby or other political purposes. We aim to work as far ahead as possible, recognising that those we ask to attend meetings need to plan their work schedules around these, as well as preparing substantive content.

Whilst this all sounds like hard work, there is also a fun social side. We get to enjoy each other’s company at lunch and dinner, and to catch up with many who we consider friends as well as colleagues. From a business perspective, we also can network and ask informal questions that have come up in our daily practice.

FICPI’s view and involvement 

FICPI’s committees are made up of IP attorneys in private practice helping to drive forwards standards of legal and professional excellence through their work in areas such as the Study & Work committee, special interest groups, Communications and Professional Excellence committees. This work is essential to drive FICPI’s strategic plan and helps to ensure FICPI members’ interests are represented with key Offices and are present to advise and shape legal decisions. Members who contribute benefit from wider experience and worldwide connections, and the possibility to progress their career through opportunities in FICPI such as speaking at workshops and meetings, representing FICPI at official meetings or involvement in areas which may be outside their usual role or firm’s current remit.

Next steps 

  • FICPI’s Study & Work Committee (CET) is the largest of FICPI’s committees, with eight special interest sub-groups and over 200 active participants. Find out more and consider joining an interest group. 
  • Find out more about the Executive Committee meeting in Goa in March 2020.
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