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Thursday, 10 February 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the Patent Forum ....

What was left of the Forum
after the pro-patent folk
finished arguing with
the generics manufacturers
Coming up soon is an exciting patent law event in which the IPKat has a paw -- he is one of the event's supporters, no less, and (as sharp-eyed readers of his Forthcoming Events page may already have spotted) this entitles IPKat readers to a thumping 20% discount on their registration fees.

The event in question is Managing Intellectual Property magazine's first-ever International Patent Forum.  When IPKat team member Jeremy first set up MIP and before he sold the title to Euromoney he envisaged the magazine as promoting its own conferences in order to educate and stimulate readers, to bring them together as a community, to enhance awareness of issues that required  further analysis and as means of building on the synergies of the printed media and carefully-managed events.  He's delighted to see that, despite the impact of the social media -- or because of it -- this objective is coming into fruition with the inauguration of this Forum.

The venue chosen for the Forum, the elegantly furbished Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel, is in London's High Holborn -- exactly over the road from his cosy little office at Olswang LLP, so the Kat plans to make some strategic incursions from time to time in search of his quarry [the hotel used to be the Pearl Assurance building and you can usually buy a punnet of blueberries from the cheery chappie who runs the street stall just outside it].

The panel of speakers is stellar, with representatives from the main international institutions, leading patent owners and members of the judiciary and the patent professions.  From the Kat's point of view the speakers are literally within his grasp.  In his opinion most of the speakers deserve to be tied to their chairs for a while, some so that they can't escape and have to talk; others so they can't escape and will therefore have to listen.  They know who I mean.

For the record, the cast of speakers includes one of Europe's most prominent and outspoken patent judges, Lord Justice Jacob, the AIPLA's Q. Todd Dickinson and USPTO head David Kappos, James Pooley from WIPO and the IPKat's old friend Jacques Gevers (ValiPat).

You can check out the full programme and get your IPKat readers' 20% discount here.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This program is a perfect example of the divide in the patent world between the rich mega corps who are interested in the international scene and the rest, entrepreneurs and SMEs. Why would I attend a conference that asserts it is only half as valuable to in- house attorney as private practice. Is thus program thereefore designed to teach me as a private practice lawyer how to fleece my clientcs?

Jeremy said...

Anonymous, I think you're being over-cynical. In the first place there isn't a divide between the mega-rich and the rest: there's a continuum. Most big businesses didn't start off that size, and many big businesses of not-so-long ago are smaller now, or indeed out of business.

The conference doesn't assert that "it is only half as valuable to in- house attorney as private practice". Its registration fee differential reflects the commercial reality that in-housers generally have far smaller budgets for IP events than do private practitioners and far less say in how that budget can be spent. Most private practitioners attending an event of this sort are likely to be partners, i.e. owners of their firms. Most in-housers are likely to be a very long way down in their respective corporate hierarchies.

Anonymous said...

Shocking price differential and is not based on ability to pay and the explanation doesn't hold water.

Jeremy said...

Anonymous 2:06pm -- I'd guess you're the same Anonymous as the earlier one.

Where there is no price differential, the proportion of in-housers to private practitioners is often miniscule, even for events that are run for the benefit of in-housers such as the Annual INTA Meetings.

You may know a thing or two about holding water, but I'd guess that you have never organised and marketed an IP conference.

Anonymous said...

Ans 1: No
Ans 2: A little - I have a bucket that collects rainwater of its own volition.
Ans 3: No, never.

If the INTA meeting is the one Google says is to be in San Francisco, then that answers that one. It fails the 'jolly' test of public company management. Partners of UK firms may attend for marketing reasons.

If a conference is organised for firms to rub shoulders with potential clients, then I guess you charge one a lower fee to get them in. Why else would you seel tickets at a lower price when you could sell them all at full price? Works for night clubs, so why not another profession of the night (or day). Lucky old industry having marketing departments to subsidise their CPD points.

Anonymous said...

The position of in-house attorneys in a corporate hierarchy is not a relevant factor. In a company with a lot of attorneys, IP budgets are high and the cost of their staff fulfilling their CPD requirements on such courses is relatively low. There will always be a need for sensible budgeting but that applies mainly to hotel quality and travel costs - i.e. preferably good value hotel and attendance at national rather than international conferences where available.

For small companies with limited resources and just a single attorney, even their IP budget must be of a good size to justify a full-time attorney. Such attorneys are far from down the coporate hierarchy. Even if they are, they have a powerful hand to play. Being in-house, they are saving the company a small fortune in outside-counsel costs and can be difficult to replace, especially if the company does not have an overly-generous remuneration package (e.g. it is 'attractive' in recruitment agent speak rather than competitive or excellent).

They also have a trump card to play. They have CPD points to obtain and their superiors are not in a position to pass judgement on the suitability of a particular conference. I can't see them being refused permission to attend at standard prices.

So if industry attorneys stay away from conferences unless they are paying rock-bottom prices, then that suggests they have a low opinion of the value of the event.

The new CPD requirements seem to have created a dramatic rise in the number of available conferences. Unforunately, there is little variation in topics and presenters. The same old faces tread the conference circuit, usually discussing a topic for which they are no more specialist than your run-of-the-mill practitioner.

The MIP programme looks a little more interesting. I see Microsoft are represented on the speaker list, obviously taking the much needed advantage of the free entry for guest speakers, because even the industry-fee is out of their budget.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy,

Are you aware if there is intended to be an audio/video recording of this event made available? There are interested individuals (well, maybe just me!) who are neither in private practice or in-house and can't afford the fee (albeit a very reasonable one for a two day conference). I daresay students of this fine field would benefit from the availability of such an audio/video and it would be good marketing for MIP to budding IP practitioners(maybe MIP could make such an audio/video available via its website and provide limited access password for students with a current .ac.uk e-mail?).

Amateur economist said...

There are various pricing policies for conferences (or anything else). One is to have the same price for everyone. This is administratively convenient, and looks fair, superficially, so it is often done. Another is to charge each individual exactly what it is worth to him (Ramsey pricing), which is totally fair, maximises profit, is completely impractical and is never done. However, one can get some of the benefits of Ramsey pricing by market segregation, for example (rail travel) by giving discounts to old people, who may have less money and less inclination to travel, but will still do so if offered a price closer to marginal cost. A single price for everything regardless of purchaser is fine for richer consumers (who get at a cheaper price what they would be prepared to pay more for) but penalises the poor.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the price is reasonable compared to others, and is a more appropriate going rate. It is however persoanlly too expensive (private practice) and even if I could rustle up the stake, I wouldn't be willing to pay more than an industrial peer (fine for students, pensioners, unemployed). When I am seeking out a suitable conference next year, I will not even check out MIP offerings, so maybe damage to goodwill needs to be factored into the economic equations.

Jeremy said...

Here we go again! Most companies with in-house IP staff don't populate them extensively with lawyers. It's much cheaper to use paralegals, who don't have CPD requirements and who rarely get to see an IP conference. And some bigger businesses that do have IP practitioners will get their CPDs via different routes, including (i) self-certifying their CPD and getting people like me in to do talks and seminars for them or (ii) getting invited to CPD-bearing events hosted by private practice law firms who do (or want to do) their IP work.

I reiterate, getting in-housers to attend conferences like this can be tough.

Anonymous said...

But why do would you want in-housers in if they don't want to pay full price, and you could sell all tickets at a standard price?

A concession based on qualification is a different criteria, so a student concession, which everyone would find acceptable, could be extended to the so-called paralegals. The concession as it stands will be taken up mainly by qualified attorneys.

The conference itself would be of limited value to the majority of non-attorneys (or trainee attorneys) from in-house. I can see there will be a group of non-attorneys for whom the agenda would be of interest (IP managers etc), but then I would also question the inability of their employers to pay for such a conference.

Would you like to go into a shop for a packet of ready salted and be told "nice suit, you must be a well-to-do professional sort of chap, that'll be double what the NHS consultant on 150K just paid"?

Anonymous said...

The discount applies to in-house counsel, so paralegals are not covered.

Department of Minuscule Emendations said...

'A criteria'? The singular of 'criteria' is 'criterion'.
DME

Amateur economist said...

Anon @ 18:00, why are you so fussed about differential pricing? If you are an attorney in private practice, and want to go to this conference, I can see it's irritating to have to pay more than in-house chaps. But people have gone to considerable trouble to organise this meeting. You assume that they can sell all places at the full price. That may or may not be so: but in any case I doubt if money was the first consideration. They set it up: they decide the prices: and if they want particularly to encourage in-house attendance, why shouldn't they? "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?".

Anonymous said...

The general answer to the last query is no. We live in a democracy so all rights are restricted. Isn't that a quote once made by a slave trader?

As to being fussed, I am just trying to get to the bottom of the justification. Reasons where given which didn't hold water and even though a new bucket was provided, the leaks became greater.

AskOxford: Usage

"Strictly speaking, the singular form (following the original Greek) is criterion and the plural form is criteria. It is a common mistake to use criteria as if it were a singular, as in a further criteria needs to be considered."

I always assumed that this was how language developed, or is common usage no longer a criteria?

Department of Minuscule Emendations said...

The Department recognises that language develops: it is part of its mission to slow this down as much as possible. As to common usage, it depends how common (and in what sense).
DME

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