Leading intellectual property scholars gather at Victoria Law

Over a hundred intellectual property scholars from six continents gathered recently at Victoria’s Law School to discuss “the object and purpose of intellectual property”.

The group of attendees on the steps of Victoria University's Law School

From 23-26 October 2017, the Faculty of Law and the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law hosted the 36th Annual Congress of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP).

ATRIP is the leading global association of intellectual property scholars, and Victoria’s Professor Susy Frankel has been the association’s president since 2015.  This event marked the culmination of her term.

The 130 delegates from Asia, Australasia, Africa, Europe and North and South America discussed issues ranging from the impact of Brexit on intellectual property, to the use of traditional knowledge by small, medium and multinational businesses.

Professor Frankel says that while there are some well-known theories about innovation and creativity justifying intellectual property, a more nuanced discussion of the question at the heart of the conference – ‘What is the object and purpose of intellectual property?’ – is necessary as the area is complex and constantly evolving.

“It’s stating the obvious to point out that there are complexities in how intellectual property interacts with changing technologies and other areas of law. Much of the debate relates to policies and views about what the law is supposed to achieve.

“It’s more important than ever to analyse how the object and purpose of intellectual property applies to new and fast-changing areas such as big data, biotechnology and social media.”

Professor Frankel says that constant change means it’s essential to keep returning to the question. “The answers are in fact never static, just as innovation and creativity are dynamic.”