By Keith Havelock, ECTA Secretary General
Vilnius, Lithuania, European Capital of Culture for 2009, was the location for ECTA’s
28th Annual Conference.
Despite the economic turndown, the total attendance at this unique location reached
575, a good figure in the circumstances. Following the “artistic” theme of recent years
and in deference to the city’s special cultural status in 2009, the theme of the
conference was a musical one and, appropriately, the main conference centre was
the National Philharmonic Hall of Vilnius, where the working events of “A Trade Mark
Symphony” took place.
After Council and committee meetings, the conference began (as a Prelude), with a
workshop Entitled Opposition proceedings in the EC, USA and Canada, at which the
speakers were Perla Kuhn, Hughes Hubbard and Reed (US), Johanne Auger, BCF
(CA) and João Miranda da Sousa, Garrigues (ES). In the evening, a Welcome
Reception was held at the Vilnius Old Town Hall, conveniently situated within easy
walking distance of both the Philharmonic Hall and main conference hotel, whose
situation on the principal square of Vilnius ensured an intimate atmosphere for the
conference. At the opening reception, introductory speeches were made by Simon
Reeves, ECTA President (UK), the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Marius
Jakulis Jason (LT) and by the Vice Mayor of Vilnius, who welcomed delegates to his
country’s capital. He commented that the Old Town Hall had not previously been
attended by so large a number of guests. After the reception, many went out to the
bistros and bars surrounding the square to enjoy the warm and friendly atmosphere
The conference proper began on the following day when, in the morning, the ECTA
AGM took place. The “Composers”, Simon Reeves, Astra Zeneca (UK) and Marius
Jakulis Jason, AAA (LT), began the proceedings and then had the distinction of
introducing the Minister of Justice of Lithuania, Remigijus Šimašius, who formally
opened the conference and also joined to audience for some sessions.
The first full Movement, entitled The Latest Music from the Main Players in the Trade
Mark World, introduced by Annick Mottet, First Vice President of ECTA, Lydian (BE),
featured as Soloists Wubbo de Boer, President of OHIM (ES), Grégoire Bisson from
WIPO (CH) and Olivér Varhelyi of DG Internal Market and Services, EU Commission
(BE) who took part in a discussion and question and answer session on
developments in their respective spheres of influence.
After lunch, a Second Movement, The Fight against Counterfeiting, a Perpetual
Theme, chaired by Gie van den Broek, McGregor Fashion Group (NL), was played in
its different aspects by Alvydas Stančikas, from DG Internal Market and Services,
EU Commission (BE) on Success at the Customs, Nathalie Moullé-Berteaux, Louis
Vuitton Malletier/LVMH Fashion Group (FR) on Liability of Intermediaries and Carl de
Meyer, Howrey (BE) on Goods in Transit. The case study on Counterfeiting in
Medicines by Kristine Peers, Pfizer Inc (BE), unfortunately unable to attend, was
presented by Annick Motttet .
In the evening, in good weather, delegates were treated to entertainment, music,
excellent food and drink and a number of surprises at the country inn Belmontas, in
the rural outskirts in Vilnius.
On the second day of the conference, the topic of the Third Movement was the
Restriction of Trade Mark Rights – When the Music is out of Tune. The chairman
(Conductor) was Annick Pairault, AB Initio (FR), who introduced, in a busy session,
Ann-Charlotte Söderlund, Delphi (SE) on Competition Law, Oscar Benito,
GlaxoSmithKline (UK) on Pharmaceutical law, Karin Pomaizlova, Pomaizlova (CZ)
on Foodstuff and related laws, Jordi Güell, Curell Sunol (ES) on Freedom of Speech
and Inga Lukauskiene Metida (LT) on Public Order, Morality and Bad Faith. A meaty
session indeed, in which the Conductor attempted valiantly to keep the “Musicians” to
The Fourth Movement was concerned with the Bar between Trade Marks and
Designs and, under the conductorship of Paul Maier, President of the Board of
Appeal of OHIM (ES), contributions from Fabrizio de Benedetti, Societa Italiana
Brevetti (IT), Danguole Klimkevičiutė, Civil Cases Adviser, Supreme Court of
Lithuiana (LT) and Beate Lalk-Menzel, Daimler AG (DE) included many interesting
illustrations of this Theme.
The Finale on EU Case Law: Cacophony or Harmony, was chaired by Carl
Baudenbacher, President of the EFTA Court (LU). His soloists were Michael
Edenborough, Serle Court (UK). Verena von Bomhard, Lovells (ES), and Lord
Hoffman, Former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (UK). The soloists and Chairman each
contributed valuable insights into aspects of the cases and courts with which they
were concerned, and a good discussion followed with members of the audience. The
First Vice President of ECTA then brought the conference to a close.
But this was not the end, as delegates and guests were later transported to the
modern Conference Centre Litexpo, outside the city, where the Gala Dinner was
held, in spacious surroundings. After a magnificent dinner, the attendees were
treated to an outstanding and memorable “Gala Symphony” by the Lithuanian State
Symphony Orchestra, under its Conductor Gintaras Rinkevicius. The first part of the
concert was a “Tango in Symphony” and the second a selection of arias by Andrew
Lloyd Webber, performed by the singers Donatas Montvydas, Rosita Civilyte and
Jeronimas Milius.The combination of music, film and lights was a breathtaking
spectacle. Additional musical contributions came from Arkadij Gotesman
(percussion) and the Green Bridge Dance Band.
To conclude a stunning evening, thanks were expressed and presentations made to
Marius Jakulis Jason, and to Gitana Siauliene and her assistants from the
conference organisation, by Simon Reeves, ECTA President and Annick Mottet, First
Finally, on the following day, delegates enjoyed an Excursion to the island Castle of
Trakai, 28 kms south of Vilnius, where they were able to relax after an intense but
rewarding conference. Next year’s conference will be in Barcelona, Spain from 15-19
June 2010, when we look forward to seeing you again.