Washington, DC. “Specialized IP Courts” are essential to reducing piracy in developing countries. That is the consensus of the 150 judicial experts gathered yesterday and today at a first-of-its-kind event held in Washington. The International Intellectual Property Institute, IIPI, together with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, The George Washington University Law School and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, held an international conference designed to help emerging economies develop the legal infrastructure to crack down on piracy.

The conference is timely for a number of countries that have or are currently contemplating the establishment of specialized courts and other adjudicative systems for the trying and settlement of intellectual property disputes. “Specialized IP courts directly impact the promotion of civil society in strengthening democracies and the rule of the law,” said Professor Marty Adelman, Director of the Intellectual Property Law Program at the George Washington University Law School. “The improvement of the judicial system of a country in turn encourages economic development and foreign direct investment.”

The conference brought together judges, practitioners, policymakers and academics from around the world to critically evaluate presented IP models, assess pre-existing IP conditions, and use this exposure in their ongoing efforts to develop and strengthen systems for the enforcement and adjudication of IP cases. Countries as varied as Bosnia, the Philippines, Poland, Vietnam, South Africa, India, Jordan, China, Panama, Egypt, Singapore, Ukraine, Brazil and Thailand were represented at this event.

“It is critical to improve the role of the courts in the enforcement of intellectual property rights to promote economic growth and development. Strong judicial systems are essential to helping transitioning economies grow,” said Bruce Lehman, IIPI President. “Never before has such a comprehensive program been put in place… the conference presents a unique opportunity for an exchange of ideas to develop a better understanding of the effectiveness of specialized IP courts.” Lehman served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks from 1993 to 1998.

Thursday’s conference sessions included case studies dedicated to discussing IP courts in developing, transitioning and small economies. Judge Vichai Ariyanuntaka of Thailand’s Central Intellectual Property & International Trade Court and the Honorable Reynaldo B. Daway, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of the Philippines were among the judicial experts discussing their country’s moves to crack down on piracy. The Honorable Randall Rader of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit spoke on the experiences of federal judges in Overseas Training Programs.

Friday’s sessions, held at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, included sessions on Training and Reforming IP Judicial Capacity, The Role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Handling Administrative Determinations and Appeal Procedures and Perspectives from Industry. Speakers included representatives from the International Judicial Academy , WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, the US PTO, the International Trade Commission, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and Microsoft.