Joan Salvà recently worked with a videogame start-up which was launching a new and genuinely innovative, non-violent gaming concept based on the sustainability threats facing our planet.
For the Barcelona-based IP attorney, the challenge was a perfect example of the most satisfying aspects of being an independent IP attorney – being involved in the innovation and creativity processes of a huge variety of clients.
In the case of the videogame company, Joan explains:
"The videogaming industry is a very complex environment when it comes to assessing IP protection, because of the overlapping layers of different kinds of rights that converge in the creation process.
“If that is not enough, there are also all the contractual hurdles to be carefully observed or drafted in the management of the different stakeholders that may participate in the business development and subsequent commercialisation.”
Joan is a 15-year FICPI member who has been with the firm of Ponti & Partners SLP in Barcelona since 2000, with a wide-ranging expertise that includes trade marks, patents, designs, copyrights, domain names and unfair competition.
Joan also advises on the drafting and implementation of licensing programmes, M&A processes, plus enforcement and IP disputes.
He also has been an assistant lecturer at the Universitat Oberta De Catalunya (UOC) since 2020.
Joan’s own impressive education includes a Masters of Law, Intellectual Property, degree (Universitat d’Alacant 1996), Postgraduate Diploma in Copyright Transactions (Universitat Pompeu Fabra 2000) and a Batchelor’s degree in Political Science and Government (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia 2002).
In 2003, he became a qualified Spanish Intellectual Property Attorney, EU Trade Mark and Design.
Within the FICPI global community, Joan is a member of the Study and Work Committee (otherwise known as CET) and sits on the group which focuses on IP Enforcement & Alternate Dispute Resolution (CET 7).
ADDING VALUE TO CLIENTS
Joan’s firm, Ponti & Partners SLP, have been around for almost 90 years and he believes that its legacy is important in building trust with clients.
“This trust does not come with aging,” explains Joan, "but rather the other side of the value coin – which is respect.
"It’s respect for what we do and for the time we have invested in deepening our professional skills. All this requires building long-term partnerships with clients, backing them even when one has to say no to a potential instruction that may lead them nowhere, or even when it goes against the expected growth rates that the firm might think it needs to become bigger more quickly.”
SHARING BEST PRACTICES
One of the assets of FICPI membership is the opportunity to learn from other members about best practices in their own firms.
Joan’s best practice advice is summed up in a simple phrase:
“Don’t call it audit”.
He feels strongly about this.
“The word ‘audit’ is a serious misuse of a concept widely used in firms’ vocabulary for years. I believe it does nothing but harm our reputation as independent professionals.
“I cannot pretend to undertake a proper IP audit of a client’s portfolio, if the real goal of my involvement is to bring them in.
“It is different if we are entrusted with this task by a third-party representative or agent.
"Be transparent. Be genuine. Call it by its name. You are reviewing and yes, you are within our code of conduct – but it’s not a true audit.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
When Joan looks to the future, he is very sure of the major challenge facing the independent IP profession.
“Technology is the biggest challenge almost every qualified profession will face in its near future”, he observes.
“In our practice, Artificial Intelligence (AI) already is envisioning many aspects, from legal advice to patent drafting. In addition to AI, there are emerging technologies that clients may be researching now which require new forms of IP protection and even new legal models.
"If I had to pick one, blockchain is the biggest. Blockchain will hit straight into the way we now understand our practice, the legal framework of our work and the approach of IP offices to examining and granting rights. With this revolutionary technology comes a decentralised model for certifying transactions, executing smart-contracts or registering rights, without the need for IP Offices, or at least the way we now understand them.
"Furthermore, IP disputes may also be affected; in inter partes litigation, perhaps without human authorities? It is not mere speculation. If your airline lets you down for undue reasons, your own ticket could already work as a smart-contract, triggering an automated workflow that matches and certifies all the relevant facts and data of the potential breach of the transportation agreement, in order to grant the legal compensation you are entitled to and have it duly transferred to your credit card, without the need to file or prosecute a complaint.”
VALUE OF FICPI MEMBERSHIP
Joan is very clear on the value of his 15-year FICPI membership and being an active member of the trusted FICPI global community:
“FICPI is the only international association in which we can freely exchange and share our views and concerns on IP private practice. Perhaps we have other channels or associations at the national level, but none of them covers the span and diversity of professional practice experiences that the FICPI community brings to all of us. That alone is worth membership.
"It is very encouraging the focus that FICPI has placed recently on practice management questions and the training sessions and best practices workshops from PMC.”
FINAL WORD - OUTSIDE OF WORK
When not working, running has been a lifetime passion for Joan, which be began before the modern craze for jogging.
“Sometimes the people I passed in the street or the park would joke and yell at me, ‘Running is for cowards’. Look now – half the world is embracing cowardice as a hobby!”
As for one aspect of himself he’d like to share with the FICPI global community:
“I’m a curious guy, a shared trait amongst the IP community, I would say,” says Joan. “This nestled in me an early vocation for journalism. A foreign correspondent’s office was in my young imaginary ideal place to find out more about the world and its complexities.
“Journalism appears to be managing without me, but I’m hoping that my alternate journey is to the benefit of the IP profession!"