EIPIN Conference "Unfair Competition and Intellectual Property"

From April 9-11, 2010, the MIPLC organized an EIPIN conference on "Unfair Competition and Intellectual Property" in Munich. This was the second conference of the XIth EIPIN Congress of 2009/10.

The XIth EIPIN Congress, comprising two conferences hosted in London and Munich, dealt with rights and developments at the margin of classic intellectual property rights. The topic of the Munich conference was selected to align with the theme of and to continue academic discussion commenced during the London conference, which had covered "Intellectual Property, Privacy and Publicity." The London discussions covered moral rights, image rights, personality rights at the margin of copyright and trademark as well as privacy rights of public figures. In Munich, the discussion continued on the rights and protections of commercially valuable images, information, and data against unfair business practices and imitation, in the absence of and/or in addition to intellectual property rights, in both civil-law and common-law jurisdictions. Additionally, the Munich conference aimed to reflect the international student body by discussing international and comparative approaches to unfair competition.

The three-day conference was organised in three modules, comprising eight faculty speakers and one panel discussion, with 120 participants attending.

During the first module, MIPLC faculty speakers (Professor Annette Kur, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law; Professor Ansgar Ohly, University of Bayreuth) provided a framework for discussion by identifying core concepts in unfair competition law and intellectual property law and by placing some of the debates on new values in these contexts. Among others, they examined the subject matter of unfair competition law and trademark law. Professor Ohly, to cite but one example, focused on the concept of confusion, misconception and misappropriation, and how differently they are approached in IP and unfair competition law.

The speakers in the second module (Professor Antonina Engelbrekt, Stockholm University; Professor Yoshiyuki Tamura, Hokkaido University; Dr. Guido Westkamp, QMIPRI) explored the legislative examples in an international context. They made comparisons on the models of unfair competition law in Europe and cited legislative examples from Japan, focusing on the slavish-imitation clause in unfair competition law. In civil-law countries, the creation of a new, albeit weak form of right through legislation has faced doctrinal problems of defining fairness, commercial conducts, similarities, and confusions as well as users and markets. Professor Tamura argued that Japanese law attempted to solve this problem by introducing a conduct-specific regulation. Additionally, Dr. Westkamp illustrated that even within common-law countries, approaches diverge on the concept of breach of commercial confidence as extended causes of action, with examples from the UK and the US. At the end of the second day, a panel discussion summing up the discussions of the previous two days was held.

In the third module, speakers were asked to compare the new species of right against unfair competition with the use of existing rights. Professor Maximilian Haedicke, University of Freiburg, reviewed the case of secondary liability against trademark uses. Mr. Timo Ehmann, Steinpichler & Kollegen, looked at the so called sports-event organiser’s right by recounting the case of hartplatzhelden.de. Mr. Gregor Schneider, Litigation Unit, OHIM, discussed a case of ambush marketing in light of event marks and the freedom of commercial speech.

Academically, both conferences explored the theme of how commercial values arising at the margins of classic intellectual property rights are regulated. As a result, the 2010 EIPIN Congress proceedings will be published as one volume, "Intellectual Property, Unfair Competition and Publicity: Convergences and Development" (eds. Nari Lee, Guido Westkamp, Annette Kur and Ansgar Ohly, forthcoming, 2011/12) with Edward Elgar Publishing, UK. The book will be the inaugural volume for EIPIN European Intellectual Property Law Series of Edward Elgar.

This conference was the first occasion when MIPLC hosted an EIPIN conference independently, as is expected of every member of the network. The European Intellectual Property Institutes Network (EIPIN) was formed in 1999 to facilitate contacts and to increase cooperation among IP institutions and students in Europe. Current EIPIN members are from five different countries in Europe: Centre for International Intellectual Property (CEIPI) at the University of Strasbourg, France; Magister Lvcentinvs at the University of Alicante, Spain; MAS in Intellectual Property, ETH Zurich, Switzerland (until 2010), Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute at the University of London, UK, and the MIPLC. Full information on the network is available at www.eipin.org.