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The 50 most influential people in IP




Our 13th annual list of the 50 most influential people in IP is the most diverse ever. But do you agree with our selections? Join the debate online and on Twitter using the hashtag #MIP50

About the MIP 50

Managing IP's list of the 50 most influential people in IP is compiled annually by the editorial team. The list recognises individuals who are shaping IP law, policy and business throughout the world, and includes legislators, judges, business leaders, lobbyists and educators. It does not however include lawyers in private practice.

This year's list is the 13th we have published. It is one of the most diverse ever, including people from Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Some of those on the list are known for promoting stronger IP protection; others are sceptical; some are known for attacking IP rights; and many do not fit easily into any of these categories. More than one-third of those included are women, a record number.

The MIP 50 are listed in alphabetical order, except for Michelle Lee, who we interviewed recently in Washington DC after she was confirmed as USPTO Director in March. Given her recent elevation, and the various challenges for the USPTO arising from recent court decisions and pending patent reform, we thought this was a good opportunity to find out more about her views and priorities for the Office.

For the other 49 most influential people, we have provided snapshots of why they have been included, focusing on their recent achievements and their likely impact in the future. Many of those included have been interviewed in Managing IP in the past, and we hope to publish interviews with others online in the coming months. Find links to more information about all of this year's MIP 50 at managingip.com/MIP50 or search for #MIP50 on Twitter.

For the avoidance of doubt, no one can pay or campaign to be in the MIP 50. The editors are solely responsible for deciding who is included, and why.


Ahmed Saeed Al Calily

Director general, TDC

Ahmed Al Calily is the director general of the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC), an agency founded in 2009 to build a knowledge-based economy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Al Calily is leading the TDC to implement the government's science, technology and innovation policies, one of which is to strengthen its IP regime. Under his leadership the TDC has set up innovation centres and projects aimed at supporting local research and development and encouraging local innovators to use the patent system.


John Amster

CEO, RPX

John Amster's RPX was involved in the most noteworthy IP deal last year when it bought Rockstar's patents in a $900 million deal. Amster commented at the time: "We commend everyone involved for their leadership and commitment to clearing the risk of the Rockstar portfolio by negotiating a reasonable purchase price in one efficient transaction." This brought to an end speculation about what would happen to one of the highest-profile patent portfolios in the business. RPX plays a prominent role in the market as a defensive patent aggregator. Last year it also launched a patent insurance product for small companies. Amster received an influential individual award at our recent North America Awards


Erich Andersen

Chief IP counsel, Microsoft

Erich Andresen took over as chief IP counsel at Microsoft in July last year, replacing Horacio Gutierrez. Microsoft takes an active role in the debate over the future of the patent system. It threw its support behind the Innovation Act introduced in the House of Representatives in February and the PATENT Act introduced in the Senate in April. Of the PATENT Act, Andersen said it "targets badly needed reforms that will curb abusive practices in patent litigation and make patent cases fairer, more transparent and more efficient for all participants in the patent system". Microsoft was also a founding member of the ORoPO open register of patent ownership announced in June this year.


Richard Arnold

Judge, Patents Court

Mr Justice Arnold is not always right (his judgments have frequently been reversed by the Court of Appeal, including three times in the Interflora v Marks & Spencer case alone). But his judgments are always thorough, well-reasoned and clear, and his contributions at conferences reveal deep thinking on diverse IP issues. He is a patent specialist, and former top IP barrister, but many of his most noteworthy interventions have been in areas such as copyright (a string of cases regarding ISP liability), trade marks (he has spoken strongly in support of the doctrine of initial interest confusion) and supplementary protection certificates (where he has referred many cases to the CJEU). Read: A day in the life of Mr Justice Arnold.

Shamnad Basheer

IP blogger

Shamnad Basheer is the founder of SpicyIP, the widely read blog covering IP news in India. Basheer wears many hats, and this year made waves when the Madras High Court sustained his petition challenging the constitutionality of the IP Appellate Board. The Court found, among other problems, that the government's practice of putting non-judicially qualified government officers in judicial roles violated the Constitution. Coincidentally, Prabha Sridevan, another selection in this year's Top 50, also vigorously argued for the IPAB's judicial independence during her time as its chairperson.


Kyle Bass

Chief investment officer, Hayman Capital

A year ago, no one would have predicted the column inches Bass has garnered for his IP exploits in 2015. In January, the hedge fund manager signalled his intent to challenge pharmaceutical companies' patents by filing inter partes review petitions at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. He quickly delivered on this promise, filing 16 petitions by the beginning of July through the Coalition for Affordable Drugs. To say he has caused a stir is an understatement. Critics such as BIO accuse Bass of opening "a new door to abuse of the US patent system" by short selling stock. His actions have been debated on every panel discussion on the PTAB this year and even in Congressional debate over patent reform. Read our recent profile and interview with Bass


Benoit Battistelli

President, EPO

Benoit Battistelli might have had a difficult year ( tense relations with EPO examiners on one hand and balancing the demands of member states, Commission officials and users on the question of Unitary Patent fees on the other) but he is undoubtedly influential. How his Office implements the new EU patent system over the next two or three years will be a crucial factor in its success, while how he deals with concerns from both staff and users about the independence of the Boards of Appeal and the employment terms of examiners will have even wider impact. Battistelli was most recently interviewed during the AIPPI Meeting in September last year. 


Johanne Belisle

CEO-designate, CIPO

One of the most influential people in the North American IP market has not even started her job yet. Johanne Belisle was appointed chief executive officer of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in June, effective September 8 2015. Sylvain Laporte, the former commissioner of patents, registrar of trade marks, and chief executive officer, departed in March to become president of the Canadian Space Agency. Belisle has a big challenge ahead of her. Canada last year made the biggest changes to its Trademark Act in 50 years and CIPO faces a big challenge incorporating them. Just one example came in July when CIPO announced it will be accepting trade mark applications filed with their goods and services grouped and classed according to the Nice Classification.


John Berard

CEO, Vox Populi

John Berard is unlikely to receive many Christmas cards from brand owners this year. Vox Populi is the company behind the .sucks gTLD. Congressmen have referred to the gTLD as "legalised extortion". A House Judiciary committee in April held a hearing on .sucks. This followed ICANN's requests to the US Federal Trade Commission and Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs to investigate perceived predatory pricing for the gTLD. It was a hot topic of conversation, and ire, at the INTA Annual Meeting in May. This was not eased by the aggressive marketing by .sucks at the event. A particular bone of contention is that the prices for a gTLD can be significantly lower for registrants that are unaffiliated with the trade mark owner. "We have set the price at how we think they will be valued on the market," Berard told Managing IP in May.


Elzbieta Bienkowska

European Commissioner, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMES

Elizbieta Bienkowska took over the internal market portfolio in late 2014. She has oversight of OHIM and responsibility for the proposed trade mark reforms (which will see her try to resolve member states' rows on what to do with OHIM's budget surplus), as well as overseeing preparatory work on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court. There is plenty at stake for the Commission, which has spent some 40 years trying to reform Europe's patent regime. Bienkowska has told the EPO that setting fees for the Unitary Patent that make it attractive to business is "a critical factor of its success".


Antonio Campinos

President, OHIM

When the long-discussed EU trade mark reform package is finally implemented, one of the most obvious immediate changes will be the renaming of OHIM as the European Union Intellectual Property Office. While this will not mean that President Antonio Campinos's responsibilities will suddenly stretch to patents, copyright and utility models in addition to Community (soon to be EU) trade marks and designs, it does reflect a shift in OHIM's role that has been taking place for some time, with the publication of reports on IP (by the Observatory), training (by the OHIM Academy) and the development of tools for cooperation between offices and users. As long as this kind of work continues, expect sarcastic comments about the size of OHIM's surplus to drop away. Read an interview with Campinos from May last year. 


Fernando dos Santos

Head, ARIPO

Many observers would have noticed that ARIPO's reputation in Africa and on the international stage has grown since Fernando dos Santos took charge in 2013. Under his leadership, we witnessed: an online system at ARIPO, with a revamped website; the Swakopmund Protocol coming into force, and discussions initiated on a protocol for the protection of plant variety. Dos Santos is seen by many as a leader capable of bringing member states together towards a common goal and ARIPO's long-term vision.


Alexander Erwin

Chair, WTO dispute panel

It is three years since Ukraine complained that Australia's tobacco plain packaging law breached the WTO's TRIPs Agreement, two years since another four countries filed their own objections and a year since Director-General Roberto Azevedo appointed South Africa's Alexander Erwin as chair of a three-person panel to hear the disputes. The fact that the panel is not due to report until the end of 2016 underlines the seriousness of the trade row. Erwin and his team must decide where the line should be drawn between public health policy and trade mark rights, with costly implications for all sides.


J Scott Evans

Associate general counsel, Adobe

Evans has been an important voice on trade mark issues for years in his role as associate general counsel at Adobe and, before that, Yahoo. He has been even more influential this year, however, because he is serving a term as president of the International Trademark Association (INTA). Evans set out two goals for the year when he took over the INTA presidency. The first was to assist and train INTA's volunteer leaders to help grow the association. The second was to broaden the scope of discussions around trade marks to encompass brands. "I think that we are no longer trade mark attorneys," Evans told Managing IP earlier this year. "A trade mark is only one thing that makes up a brand. I think we are brand attorneys now."


Kerry Faul

Head, National Intellectual Property Management Office

A patent attorney by background, Kerry Faul is leading South Africa's local innovation ambitions - in particular to increase the number of patents originating from the country. Faul is the head of National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), a body with the main task of ensuring that IP created using public funds is protected, utilised and commercialised for public good. Well over 2,500 patent applications were filed by local applicants in 2014, and South Africa has maintained its status as the leading African country in both resident and non-resident patent filing statistics


Flo and Eddie

The Turtles

Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines case may have got all the attention but the copyright dispute between members of 1960s pop group The Turtles and satellite radio company SiriusXM has the potential to have much bigger consequences for IP practitioners. Original group members Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) alleged that Sirius violated its pre-1972 rights by publicly performing the recording and reproducing the recordings through back-up and buffer copies. Courts in New York and California have determined that The Turtles had exclusive rights under their state's laws and their claims could proceed. However, a Florida court in June ruled there is no public performance right for pre-1972 recordings in Florida. Also in June Sirius reached a settlement with Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Warner Music Group and ABKCO Music and Records.


Margot Frohlinger

Principal director, EPO

If there is one person who can claim to be the parent of the planned EU Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, it is Margot Frohlinger. Formerly a senior official at the European Commission throughout the complex negotiations, she is now leading the EPO's preparations for the new system. That ranges from negotiating with member states over rules and fees to supporting the training of judges. Frohlinger's role also encompasses other aspects of patent policy, but for the next few years at least you can expect to see and hear from her as the Unitary Patent and UPC begin to reshape patent protection in Europe. Read a report of the recent EPO-European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs meeting 


Klaus Grabinski

Judge, Federal Supreme Court

If there is one uncertainty that still concerns patent owners about the Unitary Patent and UPC, it is: who will the judges be? The fear is that the need for inclusivity will lead to the appointment of many people who have little or no experience of hearing patent cases. The hope is that distinguished IP judges from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and UK, will be to the fore. Prominent among these is Klaus Grabinski, a distinguished patents judge now at the Supreme Court and previously at the District Court and Court of Appeal in Dusseldorf, who is widely respected throughout Europe. The main question is probably: will his expertise be most needed at the central division of the UPC, or in the Court of Appeal? Grabinski was interviewed during the AIPLA Annual Meeting in 2011.  


Sam Granata

Judge, Antwerp Commercial Court

One man who is making sure the Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre (PMAC) established by the UPC Agreement is not forgotten in all the talk about the UPC is Sam Granata. As well as being judge at the Commercial Court Antwerp (Belgium), Granata is the spokesperson for the UPC Legal Framework Group, a group tasked with ensuring that the PMAC is successful considering the competition it faces from institutions such as International Court of Arbitration and WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. The success of the PMAC may well be the catalyst for change across the EU in terms of resolving patent disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.


Chuck Grassley

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

In his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa Senator Grassley has a lot of power to try to force through patent reform. In April, he and Senators Patrick Leahy, John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer introduced the acronym-shoehorning bill the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT Act). It is companion legislation to the Innovation Act introduced in the House of Representatives by Bob Goodlatte. Grassley released a manager's amendment to the PATENT Act in June that included many changes including to Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings. Grassley now faces a big challenge, and a race against time, to get the bill passed.


Francis Gurry

Director-general, WIPO

Despite (or perhaps because of) WIPO's renewed sense of purpose under Gurry's leadership, the director-general's leadership style has been the focus of some criticism. Last year he faced down his opponents when he won a mandate for a second six-year term in the job. He says his focus is now on making the PCT, Madrid and Hague systems "truly global" as well as working on a Design Law Treaty, a Broadcasters Treaty and a revised Lisbon Agreement. He will retire from WIPO in September 2020. Gurry was most recently interviewed in March this year. 


Phil Johnson

Senior vice-president of IP, Johnson & Johnson

Johnson is one of the most respected IP practitioners in the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a prominent pro-patent voice. He serves as president of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and has often spoken and testified on its behalf. Johnson is not afraid to talk plainly. At the BIO International Convention in June he was speaking for the industry when he expressed fears over how Section 101 was being interpreted by the district courts and Federal Circuit in light of several Supreme Court decisions in recent years. "Does this end up forcing us to reconsider trade secret protection, and to do it far more aggressively than it has been done in the past?" asked Johnson. His standing in the IP community was highlighted by reports last year that the Obama Administration had lined him up as USPTO director before technology lobbyists' objections forced a quick rethink.


Lisa Jorgenson

Executive director, AIPLA

Jorgenson took over as executive director of the American Intellectual Property Association in November 2014, following the departure of Q Todd Dickinson from the role earlier that year. She has a big task ahead of her following the prominent Dickinson and being the face of one of the US's most-important IP groups. The AIPLA has been a vocal participant in discussions around patent reform, for example. Jorgenson was previously group vice-president of intellectual property and licensing at semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics in Dallas, Texas. She has held numerous positions as an AIPLA member over the years, including leading committees as well as serving on its board.


Catherine Lacavera

Director - IP and litigation, Google

No-one is quite sure how the new EU Unified Patent Court system will be used by patent trolls. Thanks to work by Lacavera, however, European politicians, officials and businesses are more aware of the risks, as well as the opportunities, that the UPC system presents. In addition to managing Google's multi-million-dollar IP litigation, Lacavera has spoken widely on the danger that the UPC could inadvertently lead to a flurry of lawsuits being filed at the UPC by non-practising entities helping to persuade those drafting the rules to mitigate some of the risks.


Michelle Lee

Director, USPTO

Michelle Lee was confirmed as director of the USPTO in March this year, having previously been acting director. She has also headed the Office's Silicon Valley branch, and has worked in private practice and industry, notably at Google. See our separate interview with Michelle Lee published this month for discussion of her aims and the challenges ahead for the Office.

Allen Lo

Deputy general counsel, Google

Google's actions in the IP space are very closely watched and Lo is a driving force behind this. Many grumble about the company's alleged close relationship with the Obama Administration. The technology giant is also constantly thinking of inventive ways to approach problems such as patent trolls. This includes its involvement as a founding member of the License on Transfer Network, a patent-licensing agreement that Lo described as "a sort of arms control for the patent world". In April this year Google raised eyebrows when it announced its Patent Purchase Promotion, which Lo explained was "an experiment to remove friction from the patent market". During May it opened a portal for anyone to tell it about the patents they were willing to sell and at what price.



Do you agree with our selections?

Is there anyone you would choose instead?

Join the debate, and find out more about some of the people incluced this year, on managingip.com, on LinkedIn and on Twitter using the hashtag #MIP50


James Love

Director, Knowledge Ecology International

On issues from access to medicines to copyright exceptions, Jamie Love is the conscience of the IP world. He is frequently to be seen in Geneva, where he makes telling contributions to WIPO member states' discussions on initiatives such as the Marrakesh Agreement and the planned broadcasting treaty. Lately, he has also been monitoring bilateral negotiations such as the TTIP. Probably uniquely among the people on this list, he has also featured in a feature documentary, "Fire in the Blood".


Jack Ma

Founder and chairperson, Alibaba

Jack Ma has had a big year as the founder and chairperson of Alibaba, including a wildly successful IPO. As the force behind China's largest online marketplaces, any moves that Ma and his team make (or don't make) to curtail the sale of counterfeits will have likely as big of an effect as any legislation that passes through China's National People's Congress. Given the increasing attention on Alibaba from Chinese government officials and rights holders suing the company in the US, it is likely that changes are afoot.


Miguel Angel Margáin

Director general, Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial

Margáin has a big task on his hands running Mexico's patent and trade mark office. It is one of only three Latin American countries to have joined the Madrid Protocol, in 2013. IMPI last year saw a 15% increase in the number of received trade mark applications, and a 2% increase in granted marks. This makes IMPI the 14th busiest trade mark office by application volume and ninth by grant volume. To adjust to this increasing volume, IMPI is embracing information and communication technology as a way of boosting efficiency and making the system more accessible to users. Margáin has implemented several initiatives toward achieving this goal, including implementing software that allows users to view online nearly any document related to their applications, as well as better access to the gazette.


Baroness Neville-Rolfe

IP minister, UK government

The turnover of IP ministers in the UK has been high since the post was established in 2007, so many observers were pleasantly surprised when Baroness (Lucy) Neville-Rolfe was reappointed following the recent General Election. A colourful personality (and we're not just talking about her hair), Neville-Rolfe brings a combination of private and public sector experience to her role, which includes oversight of IP policy, the UK IPO and the UK's international team of IP attachés. She is particularly active in promoting IP education and awareness in China and (as a pro-European surrounded by sceptics) engaging with EU partners on projects from the UPC to the Digital Single Market. She was interviewed by Managing IP in March this year. 


Ruth Okediji

Africa Group

Ruth Okediji is a renowned IP academic who has taken it upon herself to help developing and least-developed countries in Africa get the best deal out of the international IP regime. In spite of her full-time job as a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, Okediji manages to attend international IP law negotiation meetings. She is known for assisting the Africa Group at these negotiations, though representing Nigeria. She played an instrumental role in the negotiations for the Marrakesh Treaty, and is participating in negotiations on the Designs Law Treaty and for the development of an international legal instrument to protect traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.


Maria Pallante

US Register of Copyrights

Since introducing her "The Next Great Copyright Act" paper in 2013, Pallante has argued for change in US copyright law. She is in a position where she can exert influence, and Congress has held many hearings since to discuss the future of copyright. Pallante is advocating that outmoded music licensing practices are addressed to keep step with the digital age. "As is recognised by industry participants on all sides, we need to fix this broken system," she said in testimony before a House of Representatives committee in April this year. The Copyright Office last year undertook a comprehensive study to assess the impact of copyright law on the music marketplace. It suggested a series of changes to government processes to promote more efficient licensing practices, greater parity among competing platforms, and fair compensation for creators, including bringing pre-1972 recordings under federal copyright protection.


Gautam Patel

Judge, Bombay High Court

Justice Patel of the Bombay High Court receives considerable praise from practitioners around the country for his well-written decisions. Though he is not a specialised IP judge, practitioners say that his decisions stand out for their strong reasoning. Furthermore, he has dedicated efforts to dealing with the backlog at his court, a problem that Indian lawyers perhaps know too well. With the National IP Strategy paying particular focus on India's judiciary, Patel may play an even bigger role in shaping India's IP system in the future.


Sharon Prost

Chief Judge, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Prost took over as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit last year after Randall Rader resigned. She inherited a big challenge replacing a big personality who was also a strident pro-patent voice. The Federal Circuit is being scrutinised more than ever, with some even calling for the appeals court to be disbanded for being too pro-patent, the Supreme Court last year claiming it "fundamentally misunderstands what it means to infringe a method patent" in one ruling, and others complaining it shows too much deference to the high court. It has also had to deal with the challenge is interpreting the Supreme Court's Alice ruling and Section 101 more broadly. Its June Ariosa ruling, for example, dismayed IP practitioners in the biotech world.


Julia Reda

Member, European Parliament

Twenty-eight-year-old German MEP Julia Reda is smart, media-savvy and operates with a refreshing degree of transparency in her role as a representative of the Pirate Party in the European Parliament. Unsurprisingly, she has taken IP rights as the focus of her work, acting as rapporteur on a Legal Affairs Committee report on copyright reform. As Managing IP goes to press, MEPs are due to vote on her report, which emphasises the rights of citizens to access and use copyright material, in advance of a Commission proposal to update Europe's copyright rules later this year.


Manny Schecter

Chief patent counsel, IBM

IBM has been the top recipient of patents in the US for 22 years running. Unsurprisingly, then, Schecter is a strong voice backing patent rights. He was also involved in a new initiative launched in June called ORoPO. It is the world's fiirst open register of patent ownership. It already includes details of patents owned by its founding members - IBM, Microsoft, ARM, BAE Systems, Shazam, Patent Properties, Conversant and Finjan. Schecter commented: "Greater transparency around patent ownership is vital to eliminating transactional inefficiencies and enabling a patent system that runs optimally for every constituent in the system; from patent owners to innovators, licensees and the public."


Shen Changyu

Commissioner, SIPO

Shen's leadership at the world's busiest IP office will always be closely watched and this year is no exception. Under his tenure, SIPO has continued to build on its plans to increase international cooperation through organisations such as the IP5 as well as bilateral cooperation projects with partners such as Singapore. Domestically, with a new patent law being written (a new draft revision came out earlier this year), Shen will continue to play a big role as China cements its place on the world stage.


Ryuichi Shitara

Chief judge, IP High Court

Since Judge Shitara's appointment last year, practitioners has been waiting to see what his influence on the court will be. One area where he may prove to be especially influential is on the international stage, where he been sharing his experiences and information about the Japanese system's nuances. Recently, he gave a presentation at the Fordham IP Conference about how Japanese courts handle settlements in patent disputes, a subject that may be of particular importance as global litigation battles become more common.


Erich Spangenberg

Owner, NXN Partners

Spangenberg may have stepped down from his role as CEO of IP Nav but he is still one of the most closely watched figures in the IP system, now running nXn Partners. He has also been involved in the inter partes review petitions filed by the Coalition for Affordable Drugs, w hich have outraged the biotech industry. He had foreshadowed this at the start of the year in his 2015 predictions. One of the predictions were that IPR filings would continue to increase - "but not the reason you might think". He added: "Even though IPRs were ostensibly put in place to help weed out weak patents allegedly being asserted by non-practicing entities (NPEs), in 2015 the number of IPRs filed against NPEs will decline as the number of NPE suits falls. Look for an increase in IPRs filed against patents owned by operating companies - both by other operating companies and by others. Businesses will catch on that IPRs are a very effective way of clearing out annoying patent impediments - and far cheaper than licensing."


Prabha Sridevan

Chairperson, IP Think Tank

Sridevan retired from her role as the chairperson of India's IP Appellate Board in 2013, but returns to the Top 50 in a new role as head of the government-backed IP Think Tank. Tasked to develop India's National IPR Policy, the highly regarded Sridevan has and will continue to play a big role in the development of the country's IP system. The Think Tank released a draft of the policy earlier this year and stakeholders are now weighing in and watching closely what will happen next.


Su Chi

President, Beijing IP Court

One of the biggest recent developments in China has been the introduction of new specialised IP courts. Of the three, the Beijing court is arguably the most important given its jurisdiction over appeals from administrative appeals of trade mark and patent office decisions. Judge Su was already a much respected jurist before taking over as president of the Beijing IP Court, previously serving as deputy head judge of the Beijing Second Intermediate Court. His guidance during the IP Court's formative years will likely have a big effect on the institution for years to come.


Tan Yih San

Chair, ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation and chief executive, IPOS

Tan is the head of the IP Office of Singapore and in that role has been shepherding the office in its continuing plans to internationalise its services and to make the city-state a centre for IP servicing in the region. However, his bigger influence may be as the chair of the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation, which is tasked to help the member regional countries prepare their IP systems for the ASEAN Economic Community, set to come into effect at the end of this year.


Taylor Swift

Pop star

This year's unlikely IP trendsetter is Taylor Swift, known for hits such as "Shake It Off". Swift has had a knack of causing waves for various moves in intellectual property. She received a lot of attention for applying to register various trade marks related to her hit album 1989, such as "Party Like It's 1989" and "This Sick Beat". Next, she was attracting comments for her proactive approach to gTLDs, buying the web domain names TaylorSwift.porn and TaylorSwift.adult. Not done there, she successfully campaigned for Apple to pay performers for playing their songs during the free trial period for its new streaming service, having previously taken the stand of keeping her music off Spotify. Less positively, the Irish Times in June criticised Swift for her "too restrictive" photographic contracts regarding photos from her concerts. It's a wonder she finds time to record music.


Justice Clarence Thomas

US Supreme Court

The man who is famed for saying nothing let his writing do the talking when he penned the most-influential opinion for the US IP system last year. Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for a unanimous Supreme Court in Alice v CLS Bank, which held that "because the claims are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea, they are not patent eligible under §101". It has had a bigger influence than most would have predicted in its immediate aftermath. In the year since, 147 patents have been found invalid in district courts and the Federal Circuit on 101 grounds, with a 65% invalidity rate. The Federal Circuit has a 95% patent invalidity rate on 101 grounds, with 18 out of 19 patents being found invalid. In addition, the USPTO has a rejection rate of more than 90% for business method patents.


Moe Moe Thwe

Director, IP section, Ministry of Science and Technology

As Myanmar's markets continue to open up, rights holders are paying close attention to developments including the finalisation of the country's first IP law. Moe Moe Thwe is the director of the IP section at the Ministry of Science and Technology and has been one of the driving forces behind the new law, which has gone through more than 10 revisions. Her influence will likely grow as the country's markets and IP system matures.


Richard Vary

Global head of litigation, Nokia

Questions about the proper relationship between antitrust law and patent law, how IP owners can deploy standard-essential patents, and the meaning of FRAND have been around for so long that it is easy to forget that very few have been resolved comprehensively. Nokia's Richard Vary is at the forefront of industry attempts to provide some answers, debating with peers, policy makers and judges about ways that SEPs can be valued, and how negotiations between owners and would-be users should be assessed.


Binying Wang

Deputy director general, WIPO

"Brands and designs" is probably among the less contentious subjects discussed in Geneva, but it is a field where there has been much progress in international cooperation, notably with the expansion of the Madrid and Hague systems, the recent changes to the Lisbon Treaty and the continuing discussions over a substantive design law agreement. The experienced Binying Wang, who has been deputy director general responsible for this sector since 2008 and was assistant director general before that, is a quiet but efficient performer and also a notable Chinese representative on the world IP stage.


Cecilia Wikstrom

Member, European Parliament

Priest, author, politician - and now trade mark expert: Cecilia Wikstrom has fulfilled all these roles, and she's not yet 50. A Swedish liberal, she was elected to the European Parliament in 2009, and soon joined the Committee on Legal Affairs, which has led to involvement on issues such as copyright reform, geographical indications and most notably the EU trade mark package, which she successfully shepherded through Parliament, addressing the varied concerns of users, national governments and the public on the way. In the new Parliament, she chairs the Committee on Petitions so is likely to be less involved in IP matters, but her impact will be felt for some time.


BJ Watrous

Chief IP counsel, Apple

Apple's IP team led by BJ Watrous has a daunting workload. It is the number one target of NPEs, and has been at or near the top of that list for several years. It is involved in roughly one in 10 patent jury trials in the US and its matters occupy about 5% of the Federal Circuit's patent docket. Among its other activities it reached a settlement with Google to dismiss all patent litigation between the two firms as well as work together in some areas of patent reform. Not done there, the firm has been an extremely active participant at the PTAB, filing the most petitions of any company last year.


Zhang Mao

Minister, State Administration of Industry and Commerce

China's SAIC, as its name suggests, has a famously wide portfolio. Many of these subjects are of particular importance to IP practitioners, and Zhang is at the head of it all. The SAIC's spat with Alibaba demonstrated the ministry's oversight of China's burgeoning e-commerce market. Furthermore, the SAIC is one of three bodies tasked with policing China's competitive landscape, including issues involving abuse of IP. And finally, the China Trademark Office is part of the SAIC. With the law rapidly developing in all three areas, Zhang's influence is hard to overstate.



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Bea Swedlow takes over from Randi Karpinia as @WomenInIP Committee chair at #aiplaAM17 - "Randi keeps me in check + I keep her out of check!

Oct 20 2017 11:57 ·  reply ·  retweet ·  favourite
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October 2017

Courts grapple with scope of patent protection

The Supreme Court’s decision in Actavis v Eli Lilly introduced a doctrine of equivalents and arguably also established a doctrine of prosecution history estoppel in the UK. We look at the law across Europe, and the impact the decision might have. Kingsley Egbuonu, Michael Loney and James Nurton set the scene



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