When you least expect, you learn: Global IP ConfEx, 2022

One of the greatest opportunities for a translation company, and reason to be proud of, is to participate to, sponsor events such as Global IP ConfEx 2022, organized by Events4Sure. Joining in an event, which is not specifically for the translation field, is a real pleasure, apart from being a golden moment to learn. For a Translator, it is of utmost importance to keep learning and not base his, her or their knowledge on whatever you learn at school, university, experience: as far as we, Translators, know, we maintain ourselves hungry for knowledge. 

An event, such as the Global IP ConfEx, represents a golden ticket to a day around professionals with whom we can exchange and review ideas and concepts of matters we deal with in a daily basis. The event of Stephen Walia, Ceric Matthews, and friends, took place at the Queen Elisabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, and gathered not only lawyers. Other two translation agencies besides us, patent agents, head of IT Legal, cybersecurity engineers, etc.

Surely, nothing compares to the opportunity of listening, and talking, and questioning professionals and learning from them. In these events, participants have a view of the “behind the scenes” in the world of Intellectual Property. We, Translators, can grow in knowledge for our work. And we, People, can grow in knowledge to be better and understand better the world we live in. Taking as an example the problematic around Covid-19 vaccines, medicines, diagnoses, one of the matters largely discussed was the Covid-19 patent waiver.

The Covid-19 patent waiver

To waive or not to waive? This is not the only question. An item of the agenda of Covid-19 pandemic is the difficulties in obtaining the vaccines for poor countries. Dr. Duncan Curley, from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP introduced a great question about the real need and fairness of the patent waiver requests by countries, as for example, South Africa and India. According to the ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations, as per June-September 2022, in African countries, 20% average of the population is vaccinated against Covid-19. Nonetheless, is it only a matter of vaccines, medicines, diagnostic tools’ price? Is a patent waiver for production procedures the solution of this issue?

It can surely help in a certain way. But there are many other factors as the lack of professionals trained to use and apply these tools; the logistics, how to reach certain points of the continent, among others, related to Africa. Besides, related to wealthy countries, some factors must be considered, as the misuse of investments from both private and public bodies — cases where investments in vaccines and medicines for Covid-19 were 6 times higher from the public side than the private. Public policies created to privilege the domestic market, in detriment of foreign markets of low-income countries, who would receive the surplus, whenever there was a surplus. Interestingly, during the coffee break, we could talk, developing new ideas and opinions about this subject to others who also found the presentation fascinating.

The other two presentations were not directly related to Covid-19, but, as in a flow of thought, Roberto Valenti from DLA Piper, and later Philippe Thomas, the founder of Vaultinum, introduced the participants to the need of protection. Mr. Valenti talked about the need of protecting trade secrets by enterprises, besides the caring of data which the company may release to the public — collaborators, workers, maybe people who need, though, do they really need to know? — without considering the danger behind the lack of secrecy.

Global IP ConfEx 2022 and trade secrets

In a panel later, Giovanna Vigano (Mastercard), Abraham Mertens (Arista), and Andrea Ruggieri (Digital Legal Forum) reiterated the same need of secrecy for patents. They remembered that for any kind of work to be registered, for both big and small enterprises, and for inventors, secrecy is key to be able to register a patent. Not taking care of how something is done inside the company may lead to situations as, shown by Mr. Valenti, collaborators taking useful information to competitors. Just to find out later that a machine, a procedure, a software, was copied by someone else. 

Better safe than sorry. Such expression summarizes the core idea cited before. Companies who want to protect themselves need to consider protecting also their objective IP data. As a case study of the event, Events4Sure brought Vaultinum to the stage, where the founder, Mr. Thomas, addressed the value of intangible assets. These can be easily copied. An IP data safeness evaluation with focus on third party software products and open-source software products must be taken into consideration. These could be used as opened backdoors for hackers to steal core information from companies, therefore, tools are needed to scan and evaluate possible breaches on data stored in servers. Ideas, concepts, long hours and hard work, energy. Intangible assets can be easily copied by others; for this reason, they must be constantly monitored.

Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is an example of an intangible asset. All AI-based technology have to be patented, however, what’s the definition of AI? And what is an AI-related invention? One of the definitions given in the panel shared among Rachel Free (CMS, LLP), Gianluca Campus (Sky Italia), Matt Hervey (Gowling WLG) and Michael Williams (Marks & Clerk) was “Math technics to perform tasks”. However, one thing well known that is not patentable is Mathematical procedures. Patents for the Artificial Intelligence world are difficult to obtain for many reasons, being one of them the difficulty in establishing what can and cannot be patented.

There are different concepts overarching different regulations in different regions. Maybe, instead of protecting AI, protecting the output? However, is it a practical issue? Most of the cases linking Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence were never address, even though Artificial Intelligence exists since the 1940s! As a conclusion, we can think of a lack of discussions about the matter.

Not only a lack of discussion, though. Other speakers, not only the ones above, talked about the need to “teach our clients”. Going back to us, Translators, we have this clearly in mind. The need of an everlasting self-education and education of who is working side by side with us. This is what remained for me, one participant among the whole public of the Global IP ConfEx, London 2022: the need to inform and at same time be informed of all the matters around Intellectual Property. Which direct or indirectly affects each one of us. For professional matters and to better understand the world around.