In person interview - Paul Maier

Our second interview with an IP celebrity features Paul Maier, Director of the EU Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Twitter: @EU_IPO). Paul joined OHIM in 1995, as chief advisor to the President of the Office, before being appointed as Director of the Designs Department in 2002 and President of the Boards of Appeal in 2005. In his current position, Paul oversees the European Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights, a network of experts and specialist stakeholders that help shape IP policy in the EU. You can find out more about the Observatory here.

A short note to all our readers: the In Person series features a selection of IP personalities chosen by the editors of JIPLP. However, we would be absolutely delighted if you shared your own In Person interview, either as a comment to this post, or via email. Further, you may wish to take our list of questions and ask them to your favourite IP people, sharing the resulting interviews with our readers. The In Person series, after all, is about each and every one of us!

In Person interview with Paul Maier

How did you first become interested in intellectual property?

During my studies in business law in Strasbourg.

Who were your formative influences in IP?

Professor Burst was the first who spoke to me about IP but I must insist that I am of no school in particular and find academic “wars” particularly unhelpful and tiring!

What was the first IP-related task you had to undertake?

In 1983 I started my career working for AIM (Association of European Branded Product Industries). There I had my first professional contact with trade mark law, unfair competition and related subjects. I was following and reporting on the EC developments in these matters. My first real work on IP was with the copyright unit of the Commission. I was in charge of the preparation of the directive on harmonisation of the term of protection of copyright and neighbouring rights (Dir 93/98).

What IP reform would you most like to see implemented?

The next important step in the EU is to make the Unified Patent Court a success! Of course we all wait to see what will happen with the copyright reform too.

Who or what is the IP owner’s worst enemy?

Often people think that having a registration is the hardest part of IP protection. Actually making sure your rights are respected by first monitoring your market and other registrations and then eventually enforcing your rights is essential. The mistake is to think that after registration the work is done!

Who in IP today do you most admire?

I will not give any names! Not that there are not many people I can think of to cite but this is like speeches: it is not only what you say that is important! Forgetting something or someone important can be worse than saying something wrong! Let me just say that people I think of come from all fields of IP: officials, judges, academics, lawyers and other professionals, leaders in stakeholder groups. There are admirable people in all these categories that would deserve to be named. What is important is to have good ideas and put all the efforts into making them a reality!

If you could not have been involved in IP, what would you have liked to be?

I would have been involved in EU integration anyway! I have been an EU official for 28 years now. I am a convinced European.

What IP publication/training course do you particularly recommend?

IP teaching has evolved hugely over the years and there are many good books, IP institutes and training courses in general. The IP Tool Kits prepared jointly by EPO and EUIPO are great documents. In general both academies have really good material. For the rest CEIPI in Strasbourg, Queen Mary in London, Fordham in NY are great places to study IP. There are many more nowadays!

What is your favourite song/book/film?

Again an impossible question, the choice will depend on the moment and the place I am in! To give an idea: Book: Animal Farm by G. Orwell Film: Les tontons flingueurs by G. Lautner, dialogues by M. Audiard Song: All along the watchtower by B. Dylan, J. Hendrix version

What’s your favourite meal …?

Food is important and good food can be really great. I am a curious eater in the sense that I like to discover new tastes and eating habits. But really a good meal is one I share with my family and /or friends! You can have a great dinner with only reasonable food but great company. Great food can be spoilt by bad company…

… and with whom would you most want to eat it?

See above

What brand most closely reflects your personal ethos?

No publicity!

What three words best describe you?

Open minded (I hope!), determined, looking for solutions.

If a genie offered you three wishes, what would they be?

There are no genies and it is very good that it is like that. I think people must do their best in what they have to do. You make your choices and implement them.

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