October 29, 2012 by IPAlchemist
Well, the first day has been as amazing as I imagined. When you get to the conference hotel, two floors of lobby area teeming with patent attorneys from all round the world. Quite an astonishing sight. All with our distinctive name signs hanging round our necks on turquoise lanyards.
Of course there is a goody bag. It contains a baseball cap and a polo shirt (the latter expected, as you had to give your chest size when registering), but both of questionable taste, at least to a fussy brit. For us, of course, poor taste is a sin almost on a par with queue-jumping. But the conference bag also contained hand sanitizer and insect repellant. Hand sanitizer? What are they trying to tell us?
There then followed a series of productive meetings over which I will draw a veil of discretion, except to note that EVERYONE seemed, like me, to be meeting someone on the hour, every hour, at the Lobby/Concierge desk of the main conference hotel, which therefore resembled a sea of bemused faces. Astonishingly, everyone, including me, did actually seem to eventually find who they were looking for, although sometimes it took a few minutes and a few false “Are you…???” [finally gets to read name badge] “Oh no sorry”.
We all have name badges, huge ones, dangling, as I said, with our names and country, as well as status (“Observer” for me), but not our firm’s name. But sometimes the jacket covers them, or they get turned round. But it does assist generally in avoiding the more terrible embarrassing faux pas. (What is the plural of “faux pas”?)
Although all of the events on the Sunday were marked as “smart casual” dress code, most people wore suits. I opted for open shirt and dark trousers, leaving the suit for Monday. Even then, I was warm enough!
Chairs and tables at which to sit were at a premium. Old hands, with multiple delegates per firm (not observers then, who are restricted to one observer per firm) left one member to guard the table while others went to look for the next meeting candidates. I didn’t, but generally found those I was meeting had, so it all worked out well in the end, and we always managed to find somewhere decent to chat.
Then at 5pm it was time to be off to the “New Participants Welcome”. I thought this would be some kind of lecture. But actually it was a party, with minimal speeches at the beginning, and lots of food (which although it looked lovely was not so appealing so soon after lunch). Everyone was very keen to meet new people and very friendly.
No sooner than that was over then it was time for the main opening ceremony. Some spectacular Thai drumming opened it, of which I was unfortunately unable to get a good photo. Then the obligatory speeches. Francis Gurry, Director of WIPO, who was unable to attend in person, gave speech by video link.
Then immediately on to the Welcome Reception. This was a vast affair – I understand there were about 2000 participants, and it certainly felt like it. Food was laid out in huge arrays around the hotel grounds. Thai dancers stood in gently moving tableaux. But it was outside, so no air conditioning, so even in shirt without jacket or tie I was sweltering (as, it has to be said, most of the North European participants seemed to be). There were period performances – more Thai dancing, fire dancing, all going on intermingled with the crowds, culminating in a farewell performance at the end. In among this, people managed to continue to eat, meet, polish off the vast amount of food, and not fall into the pool. (I did get some snaps of the dancing, which I will download and post later).
Although the Hospitality Suite was open, and the inimitable APAA band was getting ready to perform, I decided to call it a night. Too jetlagged even to finish this blog post (which I am posting the next morning), I took the coach back to my hotel and fell into bed.