You have worked on international projects spanning Brazil, Israel, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. How has working across different continents shaped your professional development?
Knowledge is truly a borderless asset. IP rights recognise and respect this and ensure that creativity and innovation are internationally appreciated and valued. While working in several jurisdictions, I have managed to acknowledge this by speaking a common language, which brings authors and innovators together and drives social betterment. Ultimately, creativity and innovation are inherently human features. As such, seeing human ingenuity reach the world is the driving motivation of what I do.
You have played a key part in major policy initiatives involving trade and intellectual property. Of which of these achievements are you most proud and why?
Hands down, initiatives evidencing that Brazil can be a relevant player in the IP system. From the top of my head, I would highlight activities aimed at supporting the negotiation of the IP sections of the projected Mercosur-EU free trade agreement, monitoring WIPO’s Broadcast Treaty negotiations, counselling the UK Intellectual Property Office in setting the first Lambert toolkit of the Americas and providing ongoing support to foreign governments interested in learning the Brazilian IP system.
What led you to establish SP Law and what advice would you offer anyone considering setting up their own firm?
As an IP afficionado, I wanted to help creators and innovators to actively spread their ingenuity. I saw an exaggerated focus on prosecution and litigation and wanted to concentrate on all IP-related activities that happen outside those two components – licensing, intellectual asset management, the intersection of intellectual property, policy making and regulatory affairs, and knowledge digitalisation. Intellectual property in the 21st century is about much more than securing patent rights or litigation. I wanted to be someone who creators and innovators could rely on whenever they were in need of business-oriented counselling and advice. This is intellectual property at SP Law. For the newest IP entrepreneurs, I have two key suggestions. First, ensure that your endeavour is more about doing different things than doing the same things differently. Second, stay connected to the only real goal – advancing the client’s Interests.
What are your top three tips for ensuring long-lasting relationships with international clients?
Become familiar with their whereabouts, be culturally sensitive and focus on addressing all matters with a general sense of urgency. Most firms keep a local perspective whenever liaising with foreign clients and force international clients to adapt to local customs and goings-on. Humans like to be respected and understood, and to have their demands addressed quickly, regardless of their nationality.
Finally, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing IP practitioners in the next few years, and how can companies prepare for these?
Prosecution will become more and more AI-influenced. Therefore, drafting-related billing hours will suffer. Litigation (I hope) will become too expensive to be considered as the first dispute resolution mechanism. Specific, bilateral contexts will also play an enormous role, so future IP practitioners should be highly familiar with regional scenarios and capable of adapting to new, ever-changing realities. With that in mind, they should develop their learning methods and prepare for a connected and highly uneven business situation.
Benny Spiewak is a certified compliance and ethics professional – international and manages SP Law’s IP and life sciences practices. He is an experienced and certified Brazilian attorney and a registered patent agent. Mr Spiewak earned a certificate in IP law from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and a certificate in IP law and technology transfer from the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce Law Center. He served as the Brazilian representative at the WIPO’s IP Summer Academy, obtained a master’s in IP law from George Washington University and worked as a foreign associate at the Biotechnology Innovation Organisation’s International IP Law and Policy Office. Mr Spiewak frequently advises government agencies, trade associations and private clients on specific IP matters relating to industry policy.
Click here to see his IAM 300 2020 profile.