Yesterday, Bird & Bird hosted the IPKat's fifteenth birthday celebration in London. Originally intended as a humble teaching aid for law students, it has become the leading resource for IP news in Europe - perhaps the world. At the same time, the IPKat has maintained its unique mix of high quality legal analysis with informal charm and style, and continues to foster a strong community feeling among its readership in the IP world.

The celebratory conference combined that same feeling of community together with insights from an all-star list of speakers. Panellists ranged from practitioners, academia and all levels of the Judiciary.

The first half of the afternoon reflected on the last 15 years of developments in IP, and predictions for the next 15 years to come. Frantzeska Papadopoulou and Brian Cordery looked at patents and SPCs and the developments, political challenges and issues arising out of the interface between national courts and the CJEU. Annsley Merelle Ward presented novel research on the enormous impact of trade secrets in UK litigation, not just in the patents court but in the wider commercial industry; and Bird & Bird's Richard Vary reviewed developments in the world of SEP and FRAND litigation, remarking on the potential of AI and computerised economic analysis techniques to improve patent portfolio assessments. 

In the world of softer IP, Darren Meale predicted the growth of trade marks conflicts due to cluttering of the registers, and proposed some potential solutions to the problem. Dr. Eleonora Rosati and Prof. Lionel Bentley went on to consider developments in the world of copyright – whether the right is fit for purpose given how it has evolved at the European level, in contrast to the ease of authorship and sharing in the modern world. And Kiaron Whitehead and Charlotte May debated how far the downstream consequences of website blocking injunctions might develop in the coming years.

The second half of the day focussed on some key issues. John Halton (Financial Times) and Lauri Rechardt (IFPI) gave a view from industry about what changes might be in store in the coming years. Hayleigh Bosher gave the corresponding view from academia, encouraging earlier education on the importance of IP, and a teaching not just on the formalities of the rights themselves, but on the outcomes and how the rights might be used effectively. Eibhlin Vardy and Myles Jelf remarked on how increasing use of technology might affect private practice.

There was also strong representation from the bench. Sir Christopher Floyd remarked on the great potential for technology to assist court hearings, but highlighted the particular challenges that a trial brings in terms of reliability and ease of use.  Sir Richard Arnold praised the developments in academic study of IP over the last 15 years and called for it to continue, with greater focus on how IP interfaces with other areas of law; and Sir Colin Birss remarked on how well IP rights are internationalised and how important it is for the UK to continue to lead in that field.

Sir David Kitchin, who will take up his new role as a judge of the Supreme Court later this year, called out for greater diversity within the judiciary. He suggested that recruitment of judges may find greater diversity by looking beyond the bar, into the ranks of other practitioners in other fields – and encouraged all present to consider applying to take up a part-time position, or take experience as a judicial assistant.

The day closed with a surprise entry from the much-loved Jeremy Philips, founder of IPKat, who was greeted with cheers and reflected on how far the blog has come since its inception. 

Over the last 15 years, is there any better example of the use of technology in law than the success of the IPKat itself? The ease and accessibility of a blog may be the perfect medium for sharing legal information quickly and across the world.  And now that blog is the first thing that IP practitioners read over their morning coffee – at all levels of the profession from student to the Supreme Court.