I am beyond thankful for the scholarship opportunity that I received to participate in the 13th WIPO-WTO Colloquium for Teachers of Intellectual Property held at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from 13 to 24 June, 2016. The two week programme was intense and covered eighteen substantive topics touching on all areas of intellectual property (IP) law. I was among twenty-six participants selected from approximately 160 applicants from developing countries around the world. In addition, there were thirty-nine experts from WIPO, WTO, WHO, UNFCCC, UPOV, NGOs and industry who took part in the Colloquium as speakers.
I live-tweeted during most of the sessions using the #WWColloquium hashtag as summarised here.
The keynote speakers were two eminent judges, former Justice Annabelle Bennett of the Federal Court of Australia and Judge Yanfang Wang of the Supreme Court of the People’s Republic of China who shared their insights on the role of the court in the evolution of national IP systems and the interface between IP and competition policy. In addition, three renowned professors, Professor Susy Frankel of Victoria University of Wellington and President of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research (ATRIP), Professor Jacques de Werra, Vice-Rector of the University of Geneva, and Professor Irene Calboli of the Singapore Management University were invited to speak on their areas of expertise.
I met and interacted with professors and researchers from around the world who are proficient in the field of IP law and who are helping to shape the face of IP in the global south. Via the group study sessions and participants’ presentations, I gained useful insights on current IP law and policy issues in the various jurisdictions represented.
WIPO and WTO helped participants get the most out of the Colloquium by organising a study trip outside Geneva to witness firsthand how big players in industry manage their IP rights. As a result, we visited Nestle headquarters where we met with senior management staff who gave us a tour of their expansive facility and spoke to us about Nestle’s research and development, patents, IP and branding as well as enforcement of IP rights.
Personally, the highlight of the Colloquium was meeting some of the leading IP teachers and researchers from Africa and inviting them to the Open AIR East Africa Hub to be a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS), which kicked off at the Ottawa Hub earlier this year. So far, we have successfully hosted one law professor from Uganda who gave a DSS talk at Strathmore University in July 2016.
I believe that my involvement with the Open AIR Partnership was a major factor in my being selected to participate at the Colloquium, which was one of the best experiences of my academic life thus far. As a result I am grateful to Open AIR whose support has encouraged me to keep striving toward my goal of becoming an IP law academic. I encourage other members of the Open AIR New and Emerging Researchers Group (NERG) to take part in the Colloquium and share their Open AIR experiences with the larger IP community from other parts of the world.