Suspended in time somewhere between the Andes and the Caribbean I am reverting to our agenda with some suggestion regarding the “culture change” issue. I think that this point is paramount for restoring the perception of relevance and achieving efficiency and impact for the AIPPI. As I have pointed out in the Croatian group Report, the culture of the AIPPI is primarily shaped by its 19th century roots and if that was already inadequate at the end of 20th century, it might prove to be fatal in the 21st.
Of course, the culture is us, and one organization is made of its members and the culture they desire. However, possible new members and the society around might conclude that this is not relevant contribution to their needs or that our culture is even contrary to the newly emerged values and social needs.
In my view, in order to save AIPPI’s former leading position in the IP community and make it again a globally relevant source shaping the IP, AIPPI must wish to do so using modern tools and social interaction formats. However, all of the formal/format changes will miss the point if we keep the traditional lawyers’ conservative approach and try influencing social change after they have occurred. Patent attorneys have a similar tendency of avoiding controversy and these traits are ever less compatible with modern societies that thrive on unresolved issues and the issues that loose relevancy before even a question on their substance is formed, lest an answer is offered.
AIPPI has given ample evidence for its tendency of skimming controversy in favor of conducting less relevant discussions conducted in a slow and formalistic manner, arriving with the answers years after they would have been meaningful. Most recently, for example, the Programs Committee postponed discussing the issues of 3D additive technologies because “it is too early”. I have really heard a less meaningful excuse not to tackle a relevant problem. Although it was done in the best intention and in time honored tradition of AIPPI, it just made our association miss yet another opportunity to have an opinion at the time it is relevant and possibly before other IP associations. The fact that other IP groups might be also slow in discussing new issues does not help AIPPI a bit, it just marginalizes the entire IP profession and the AIPPI within it.
The point is that being late in the fast moving world of the 21st century is lethal. It is increasingly clear that it might be better to be off mark than being late and that being informed early is more relevant then being wise later. Modern society does not provide for the answers as they most often arrive too late to have any relevance as their question have lost any relevance in the meantime, swamped under the wave of new unresolved questions.
Therefore, I believe that is paramount for the AIPPI’s success to change its culture into a more courageous, forward thinking, exploratory and interdisciplinary ways. We need to be open, open to discussions, open to other parts of society, open to other IP expert associations. All the AIPPI bodies will need to embrace this courageous disposition and try to actively seek the controversy because identifying it, articulating its relevance and discussing it is the most relevant contribution we can make today as an association of professional IP experts. This does not mean throwing all our work out of the window, but it does mean taking very different attitude towards the issues we a confronting, not only as the IP professionals but as the global society as a whole.
Regretfully, on the day of our call I will be on my way to a remote national park in Colombia and have no idea whether I will be able to participate or not. If it proves to be impossible I wish you all a productive discussion and am looking forward to our meeting in Helsinki. Do let me know if you need any further elaboration or clarification of my thoughts in the meantime.
Best regards, Mladen
In addition let me just add: I would now just say that I believe this modernizing element needs to be built-in structurally in the AIPPI bodies we are aiming to reform/reformat. I believe the bodies and the AIPPI statutes need to mandate such criteria that would lead to openness and cooperation with extra-association factors, selecting the most contentious IP and professional issues for our deliberations and promoting substance above formality. I will try to come up with more particular recommendations and am sure that other members in our group will easily come up with their vision.