Dear Fabienne, Charles and Thierry,
thank you for your Invitation to Submit Proposals for Working Questions for Incheon. I do wish to make a program suggestion at this point and I do so in my private capacity as an individual member. Although Croatian group knows and supports my views, I wish to restate that I am not making this suggestion on behalf of the Croatian Group which I am currently presiding.
As most of you know, in concurring with your positions, I have always been stating that I see AIPPI as an organization uniquely suited to lead the most open discussion in all the things IP. The fact that it is an organization dedicated to the entire field of IP, not affiliated to the particular industry or to a government or a regional bloc. This in turn makes it more natural to devote our work to studying the trends in the entire IP arena, the position to which we have already arrived in last decades. Its long traditions and its ample geographic coverage also make it uniquely suited for this task. However, recent years have seen certain narrowing of its membership which now depends primarily on the IP professionals. Members of the academia and industry are participating in reduced numbers in spite of the efforts to change this trend.
My response to the above trends was always to escalate the dialogue about the ever complex issues that we are facing and approach the IP with an open mind. In a way, it could be said that I thought that a best way to energize the organization was to embrace the controversies within our field of professional activity and to tackle those controversies with the deep knowledge that our members posses and the authority AIPPI traditionally carries from its methodical way of studying issues. AIPPI was not ready to go this way all the length I wished if would, which is somewhat understandable for a body whose members now represent the profession that is mostly accustomed to represent third parties interests. At the same time our discussions and our views were becoming somewhat less plastic and more one sided, due to the fact that our membership was becoming more uniform.
Although this development might be understandable, it certainly does not further interest of this organization as a body who has traditionally had clear authority in shaping and pronouncing cutting edge positions in the field of intellectual property rights. In the modern world many other voices emerged and many of those quickly became more dynamic and far reaching than AIPPI’s. The broader trends moved intellectual property now into a territory of an increased social attention. The focus switched to the examination of the role of IP in the modern digital and networked societies. Consequently, these developments decisively moved the topic of the IP law from the field of quaint discussions and routine practice into a world of quick and sudden changes. Our societies are pushed by digitalization and electronic networks into reexamining the traditional balances between the accessibility of creative output and its protection achieved over the last centuries. I have not seen AIPPI responding often to these new challenges quickly and I fear that IP profession might end up marginalized in the discussions whose very topic is the field of its expertise. That would be regrettable, and at this time I feel that AIPPI should seize this opportunity and start opening the issues up rather than re-actively responding to those challenges.
Finally, at this stage, this is not to propose any particular topic for the next Congress, but to plead with you to chose such topics that would tackle the issues of broader social significance of the context of the IPRs, all in hope that we can jointly stop sliding our professional contributions into the zone of lesser relevance. Needless to say, should you come to the conclusion that at least some of the issues I am proposing do carry any weight, I would be more than happy to jointly work on selecting those particular issues that might be of most relevance at the Incheon congress. As all of you know, I am very much looking forward to our working together with you in the coming period and to seeing you again soon.
Best regards, Mladen Vukmir, President, AIPPI Croatian Croup