27.10.2020Ozden Gokcelik & Tugba Derya Yilmaz

This year, the annual AIPPI World Congress was planned to be held in Hangzhou, China between 11-14 October 2020. However, like all other fields of life, IP circles have been severely affected by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which made organizing a physical meeting and in-person experience impossible. AIPPI was quick to find an alternative and transformed the physical meeting into a virtual one by digitalizing the annual AIPPI World Congress for the first time in its history, enabling attendees to get in touch with each other through the new normal and enriched system of online conferencing via an interactive virtual platform.

The virtual meeting that successfully took place between 5-14 October 2020 was the longest of all AIPPI congresses so far. It was free for participation by all AIPPI members worldwide. Taking advantage of being virtual, most sessions of the Congress will be available as a recording at the Congress platform until 15 November 2020 for those who wish to catch up or re-watch.

Trademark agents Ms. Özden Gökçelik and Ms. Meltem Oflu, both of whom were among the contributors of the study question of “Descriptive use as a defence in trademark proceedings”, and patent agents Ms. Tuğba Derya Yılmaz and Ms. Buket Tekin, both of whom were among the contributors of the study question of “Inventorship of inventions made using artificial intelligence”, participated in the online Congress on behalf of Stock Intellectual Property Services A.S. Ms. Özden Gökçelik was also the leader of the Turkish national group for the study question of “Descriptive use as a defence in trademark proceedings”.

During the Congress, study questions of “IP rights in data” and “Standing to litigate and effect on remedies” along with the above-mentioned study questions were debated and voted. Like the Congress itself, the voting process was carried out virtually and final resolutions were adopted following the Study Committee Meetings, Plenary Sessions and Executive Committee Meetings with the purpose of helping harmonization of national and international IP laws.

The panel sessions and the virtual roundtables of the Congress reflected the very up-to-date nature of AIPPI and covered topics, which shed light upon the working conditions of IP environments during the ongoing pandemic, such as   “Remote working - is it the new normal?”, “Inhouse Counsel Perspective: Collaborating and maintaining productivity during a Global Pandemic”, “Copyright and COVID 19”, “Learning and Development during the pandemic”, “Response of patent offices to COVID-19”, “and “Towards the new normal, and beyond…: How IP Offices and International IP Organizations envisage their future business model”.

Virtual roundtables were the sessions for participants to discuss in smaller groups and socialize, covering a number of live IP topics including but not limited to “IP Blogs: the most efficient tool for sharing IP knowledge worldwide”, “Should the term of protection for unexamined design registrations be shorter?”, “Trade Secrets: Hot Topics”, “The politics of IP legislation”, and “Copyright and photography”. The only drawback of these sessions was that virtual seats were assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, and these seats ran out quickly.

Participants enjoyed an Opening Ceremony adopted to the new normal during which an AIPPI member from each country delivered a welcome speech on their own language keeping the most famous attractions of their countries in the background to present cultural variety.

The much-awaited Women in AIPPI event took place to discuss the advantages of being a female in a corporate and technical workplace. During the session, speakers shared their experiences in work environments dominated by men with some recommendations to follow, underlining the importance of building a support network. The IP Women did not forget to enjoy and danced on their zoom screens even if it was dancing virtually. The interactive Young AIPPI Forum was also a highlight.

As a whole, the 2020 AIPPI World Congress made history with its virtual organization combining attendees all over the world for 8 memorable days and was a unique experience to learn about, brainstorm and discuss various areas of IP law and to network with numerous colleagues around the world. The virtual Congress clearly proved that AIPPI should continue to organize such online events in the future.