On Sunday 7th June, the Pirate Party - a Swedish political party whose core offering is the fundamental reform of copyright law and the abolition of the patent system - saw one of its candidates become a member of the European Parliament after elections held across the European Union. It won 7.1% of the vote in Sweden and just under 20% of votes from those in the 18 to 35 age range. The party's electoral success is the latest manifestation of an anti-IP zeitgeist that exists among a significant part of Europe's population. This shows itself in many ways, but can be seen clearly in the debates over issues such as the patentability of computer implemented inventions and biotechnology, access to medicine and green technology, and copyright on the Internet.
The Pirate Party was formed in 2005 and although it had not achieved any significant electoral success before, it has forced other Swedish parties to revise their IP policies so as not to lose votes, particularly from younger people. In the same way, the party could prove to be influential in a European Parliament that has already shown itself to be receptive to anti-IP messages on a number of occasions. It will also be able to claim all the financial and political benefits that go with a European Parliamentary seat.
It is against this background that the first meeting of the IP Brand Development Group will be held in London next week. Formed in early 2009, and made up of representatives from IP-owning companies, the group's stated aim is to "identify problems, develop plans and activities to build a consistent, positive relevant and easily communicated brand proposition for IP". According to the group's mission statement: "While many recognize the advantages of IP, the system is also heavily criticized, by activists, industries, academics and some politicians. Anti-IP feelings have arisen which risk the reputation of the IP system, endangering its effective functioning and thus potentially hampering innovation, business, creativity and, ultimately, our cultural diversity and growth of the Knowledge Economy."
The IP brand is also a subject for discussion at the upcoming IP Business Congress (www.ipbusinesscongress.com), being held in Chicago from 21st to 23rd June. In a plenary session entitled Brand IP, one of the people behind the IP Brand Development Group, Caroline Kamerbeek of Philips IP & Standards, will be explaining more about the communication and perception challenges now confronting IP owners and how the group plans to tackle them. Sharing the platform with her will be Horacio Gutierrez, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft, and Marcella Watkins, managing counsel IP of Shell. The session will be moderated by David Kline, co-author of the best-selling Rembrandts in the Attic.
The IP Business Congress 2009 is expected to be the single most important gathering in the IP community this year. Organised by the leading IP publication, Intellectual Asset Management magazine, it will bring together top executives, including CIPOs from Fortune 500 companies, heads of IP at other major companies, global IP thought leaders and senior policy makers from around the world. To learn more about the IPBC 2009, visit: www.ipbusinesscongress.com.