Publications > Goulash, czardas and trade marks

 
Goulash, czardas and trade marks
Reporting on the LES Pan-European Conference, Budapest, 2010
 
From Boston to Budapest
Having barely recovered from jet lag from the recent INTA (International Trademark Association) annual meeting in Boston, USA, which included a minor speaker engagement and some committee participation, I was soon back on the road and participating in the bi-annual LES Pan-European conference held in Budapest, Hungary, June 6-8, 2010.
The Licensing Executives Society (‘LES’), as reported in the December 2009 issue of the ITMA Review, is an organisation that brings together IP practitioners and owners, licensing executives, univeristy technology transfer officers, and a variety of other stakeholders in the commercial exploitation of IP.  At the time of writing, the out-going President of LES Britain & Ireland was Nigel Jones of Linklaters, the incoming one being Mark Wilson of GlaxoSmithKline – both Presidents representing the different make up of membership.
 
Pre-conference Seminar
Participants at the Budapest meeting numbered some 160 and came from around the globe, although not surprisingly a good percentage came from the home territory. A full day of training in the fundamentals of Intellectual Asset Management, which included mock negotiations for in-licensing and out-licensing IP, preceded the meeting proper. There were 41 participants registered for this, including several members of the Hungarian Patent Office (one of whom was the Head of Trade Marks, Dr. Imre Gonda) who were there to learn about ‘the commercial side’ of IP which they were rarely exposed to in their daily work. However, the preliminary session, which the writer co-presented with Alan Lewis, Partner of Adams & Adams in South Africa and President-elect of LES International, was an introduction to IP, which the officials of the Hungarian Patent Office dutifully but patiently listened to. They were at hand to comment on anything that was peculiar to the Hungarian IP System, which everyone, trainers included, could learn from. 
 
Conference proper
The official opening reception of the conference, which followed this day seminar, included a full concert by the internationally renowned Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra at the conference venue, the Marriott Hotel overlooking the River Danube. Wine kept flowing as the conference centre became flooded with the sounds of Antonio Vivaldi, Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók. After the opening of the conference by the President of LES Hungary, Michael Lantos of Danubia patent & law firm (who with his comittee so successfully organised this pan-European event), and the President of the Hungarian Patent Office Dr. Miklós Bendzsel, the Monday morning plenary session included a presentation by the President-elect of the EPO, Benoit Battistelli, who told us about latest developments there. We were very much looking forward to listening to the President-elect of OHIM, Antonio Campinos. Sadly he wasn’t able to come at the last moment, but having another President in his place, that of the Portuguese Patent Office, presenting on the licensing aspects of EU trade marks and designs, was also a treat. To add to the list of luminaries, the current President of LES International from the New York law firm Finnegan, Patrick O’Reilly (known to many affectionately as ‘the admiral’ for his commanding presence, authoritative and sonorous voice, and not least his former naval career) gave a magisterial commentary on issues to do with Open Innovation. Finally, on the opening morning, and to accompany and to complement the freebie Rubik cube that we had in our delegates’ bag (no doubt for trade mark attorneys who get fidgety during talks on patents), we had the celebrity himself, the Hungarian inventor Mr. Ernó Rubik who told the audience about how impotant the intellectual propety system, including trade marks, has been to his world-wide business, and the dangers and pitfalls if business people ignore this system.
 
The remainder of the two day conference included legal updates on patents and trademarks , new ways of doing technology transfer, issues and case studies in university-industry co-operation, and compulsory licensing. There was even a special session devoted to Supplementary Protection Certificates for those involved in the pharmaceutical industry.
 
Trade mark work shops
The first afternoon also included two sessions on trade marks with international panels who looked at trade mark licensing, franchises, other permitted forms of third party use of protected trade marks, in particular comparative advertising, and what constituted genuine use if foreign character marks are used in transliterated form (case study from Japan). In the first workshop, which the writer was privileged to help organise and participate in, the first trade mark licensing case to be decided by the ECJ, Copad vs Dior Case C-59/08 ,23 April 2009, was presented and discussed. This established, inter alia, that breaking a contract term which restricted the distribution network, in this case for luxury products, such that the prestige value of the product was diluted or harmed, would also amount to trade mark infringement despite permission for use in the licence grant. This was based on Article 8(2) - on licensing - of the European Trade Mark Harmonisation Directive and the determination (for the first time by the Court) that the psychological aspect of a brand which gives it its allure of prestige is part of the product’s (intrinsic) quality. Perhaps no coincidence that the Advocate General who advised the Court was female, and that the product in question was luxury lingerie!
 
And a few extras
With the gala reception at the world famous Gunder’s restaurant, so many presidents (including LES US & Canada President Ada Nielsen), presidents’ men and presidents’ wives to rub shoulders with, not to mention so many stimulating and friendly co-delegates to network with, and a delegate bag full of souvernirs including a stunning photographic album of the sights of Budapest, this was a most enjoyable and most memorable conference experience. Add to that also a visit to the Hungarian State Opera House for a performance (in Hungarian) of Handel’s Xerxes, hearing the Czardas played by one of the best local gypsy violinists at the Carpathia resturant in town, plenty of tastings of authentic home-made Goulash (not good for ‘waist’ management), and a last evening Elton John concert at the city Stadium (a performer who gives value for money, has lasted the pace and doesn’t mime), you couldn’t ask for more on a (business?) trip.
 
LES Britain & Ireland are hosting the LES International annual meeting in London, June 5-8, 2011. Details of the conference can be found on www.lesi2011.org.

 

Publication pending at date of upload in les Nouvelles and the ITMA Review