Press Release – Leading Global IP Associations point the way towards practical solutions for protecting IP advice internationally

Leading Global IP Associations point the way towards practical solutions for protecting IP advice internationally

Washington, DC, Zürich and Basel, 29 July 2013: AIPLA, AIPPI and FICPI today released a joint communiqué on their recent high level colloquium on the protection of intellectual property advice held in Paris on 27-28 June 2013. According to the communiqué, there exist viable options to remedy current problems and their resolution is of great importance. In both common and civil law systems an agreement could be made that communications relating to IP professional advice with lawyers and/or non-lawyer IP advisors shall be either confidential to the client or subject to professional secrecy and shall, in both cases, be protected from disclosure to third-parties unless made public by or with the authority of the client.

The Colloquium brought senior government representatives together with experienced IP attorneys and representatives of the judiciary and academia to discuss the urgent need to harmonise different countries’ laws so that confidential client communications with IP attorneys are protected against forcible disclosure. Participants identified significant differences in laws and practices around the world for the protection of confidential client communications in IP matters. Concerns were voiced that several countries afford no protection at all and have laws that can lead to the forcible disclosure of confidential advice. Also highlighted was the fact that many countries do not adequately protect communications between clients and overseas IP attorneys. In a highly globalised area of law, participants identified viable options to harmonise individual countries’ laws.

The President of FICPI, Bastiaan Koster, commented:

FICPI was very encouraged with the ideas that came out of the Colloquium. It was a major step in our aim of achieving better protection for confidential IP advice. While some countries adequately protect client’s communications with their IP advisers, these protections come to nought if there are other countries that provide no safeguards at all. The discussions at the Colloquium provided government representatives with a clear direction for reform.”

President of AIPLA, Jeffrey I.D. Lewis, agreed and added:

This gathering of major international IP associations, together with experienced government officials, worked on remedying an unresolved problem in the international arena. It is unique, and can serve as a model for effective ways to deal with difficult international issues. If the recommendations from the Colloquium are adopted even by a few countries, it will prove the viability of this type of industry/government partnership in moving global IP protection forward.”

At the end of the Colloquium, Michael Dowling, Past President and Co-Chairman of Q199 of AIPPI, observed:

The colloquium was an outstanding success. First, the participants enthusiastically engaged in commenting on how to develop the framework for a remedy to the problems of PCIPA. The outcome was that Group B+ nations have a strong base for further developing that framework, including through the constructive connections made between them and the participants.

Civil law developing countries (eg. Brazil) have had concern for any potential that adding protection of clients from forcible disclosure may compromise obligations of disclosure in particular as to prior art. But the Japanese participants pointed out that civil law professional secrecy is absolute even as to knowledge of the existence of prior art. That was contrasted with common law client confidentiality which is not absolute. Further, it does not apply to facts like prior art. It applies to communications relating to legal advice.

It was thought that this security for the public duty to disclose prior art, should be expressed in the framework.”

The communiqué from the colloquium and presentations of the speakers are available on  the websites   of   AIPPI   (,   AIPLA   (   and   FICPI   (  A comprehensive transcript of the proceedings, including all comments by the participants during question time, will be published by AIPPI and FICPI soon.


AIPLA, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, was founded in 1897 to maintain a high standard of professional ethics, to aid in the improvement in laws relating to intellectual property and in their proper interpretation by the courts, and to provide legal education to the public and to its members on intellectual property issues. AIPLA is a national bar association constituted primarily of lawyers in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in the academic community.

AIPPI, the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, is dedicated to the development and improvement of the regimes for the protection of intellectual property at a national and international level. It is a politically neutral, non-profit organization, domiciled in Switzerland which currently has about 9000 members representing more than 100 countries and including lawyers, patent and trademark agents or attorneys, representatives from industrial corporations as well as judges, academics, scientists and engineers.

Founded over 100 years ago, FICPI, the Fédération Internationale des Conseils en Propriété Intellectuelle, represents intellectual property attorneys in private practice internationally,  with more than 5000 members in more than 85 countries. FICPI plays a leading role in advancing and stimulating improvements in intellectual property law, the profession at large and its members’ professional impact on society.

AIPLA contact:

Lorri Lee Ragan, APR Director of Marketing

& Communications 1 703.412.1308

AIPPI contact:

Fabienne Martin

External Relations Executive

+41 44 280 58 80

FICPI Contact:

Douglas Deeth President, FICPI Communications Commission

+1 416 941 9442

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