GIPLI inaugural address

© Ghent IP Law Institute 2024 (large view)

© Ghent IP Law Institute 2024

(15-03-2024) Last Friday, 8 March, Ghent IP Law Institute was inaugurated. On that occasion, Prof. Simon Geiregat outlined the plans for the near future and expressed his gratitude to a number of colleagues.

Read a translated transcript of his speech below. Or read the original speech in Dutch.

Good evening everyone. Thank you for being here in such large numbers. Joe Biden presented his State of the Union yesterday. Today, GIPLI is presenting its State of the Union. So, as you can see, we are experiencing very important times this week!

(General hilarity)

I won't promise that my speech will be short because when people do that, it usually ends up being a long speech. So, I hope for you that means this speech will be very a short one.

I am very pleased that our Faculty and Ghent University have decided to allocate resources to focus more on education and, especially, research in intellectual property law, our colorful legal domain. I am also very grateful for the creation of a full-time mandate for a professor in IP. And, of course, that they chose me for it in September. I must say it were uncertain times for me as a postdoc, with some disappointments to process, which I wouldn't wish on anyone. Hence, it is with great pleasure that I stand here today.

The commitment that Ghent University dedicates to IP, and now the creation of the new research institute GIPLI, those are, of course, the two main reasons why we are here today. This week, we launched the website and LinkedIn page of GIPLI, which has already gathered more than 330 followers in about five days. That's certainly not bad. Now, for comparison, another Flemish academic IP institute has 3300 followers. That's ten times as much. Nevertheless, I have calculated that if we continue at this rate, we should catch up with them around Ascension Day. Therefore, colleague Julie will, of course, check on everyone's phone later this evening to check if you're already following the new page and how many shares and likes you've given. (Animosity) And the results will also reflect in the treatment you receive tonight. (Laughter)

GIPLI still has to prove itself. That's why we will gradually start with a number of initiatives. From the autumn onwards, we will organize periodic meetings on current topics, not only for researchers but also for practitioners, judges, and corporate lawyers.

GIPLI is currently just a website, only a "packaging," in a sense: a box to be filled. I am well aware that we still have to – or that GIPLI still has to – prove itself, and prove itself hard. Therefore, in the coming months, especially from the first semester of the next academic year, we will gradually start with a number of initiatives.

Firstly, we will focus on more collaboration: both internationally and within UGent. Within the faculty, we will try to forge new bonds for collaboration.

In the same line, secondly, we will actively engage in collaboration with the legal practice. As a first step, from the autumn onwards, we will organize accessible meetings on current topics, somewhat in the model of the Financial Law Institute. These meetings will not only be intended for researchers but also for practioners, judges, corporate lawyers, and the like. More information on this will follow in due course.

Thirdly, we will, of course, start with doctoral research. As already known, our team will be strengthened by Michiel Roels from September onwards. His theme will be the very topical issue of style protection in the post-AI era. In addition to Michiel, we may also attract one or two freelance doctoral students from the field.

Regarding education, everything will remain a status quo for now. Colleague Hendrik Vanhees and I will continue to manage research and education in the field of IP as a duo, at least until his retirement. In the long term, the plan is for me to be involved in the cluster course in economic law with Reinhard Steennot and Diederik Bruloot: something I am very much looking forward to.

And if I have some time left, I will also do some research myself and occasionally publish a thing or two.


Finally, I would like to thank a number of people in particular. Julie Kerckaert and Liselot Vandenberghe, also known as "Team GenZ-IPLI": for the eternal enthusiasm and unconditional support, but especially for organizing the internal company activities this week, full of memorable festivities and photos.

Also, a word of thanks to the teaching assistants, Willem-Jan Cosemans and Hannes Abraham, who also want to enthusiastically join in our new project; to Michel Tison, the dean, for the repeated trust; to Diederik Bruloot, Hans De Wulf, and Christophe Van der Elst, for the help they have given me in my first steps as a postdoc and as a lecturer.

Also thanks to Reinhard (Steennot), for the eternal support, as well as – and many of you here can attest to this – for his warm and appreciated mentorship, in my case uninterrupted since I started my master's thesis with him in 2013. And then, of course, a heartfelt thank you to Hendrik (Vanhees), for the same reasons but also for the willingness to work together and continue working together, and also for joining in my perhaps somewhat impulsive and naive ideas.

Finally, a word of thanks to all other colleagues in economic law present and less present here. I am convinced that we all share a very special bond. I am genuinely happy to be part of a group of enthusiastic researchers thriving in a – in many ways – tremendous atmosphere. (Laughter) The vibrant dynamic we experience on our second floor is something unique: something we should be grateful for, as it is not something to take for granted. I, for one, very much look forward to going to work every morning. (Agreeing nods)

This week marks the beginning of a new chapter, but it is certainly not the end of an old chapter! I hope that we can continue to collaborate under the banner of the economic law researchers at our beautiful Faculty.

Because, let's be very clear: this week marks the beginning of something new, the beginning of a new chapter; but it is definitely not the end of an old chapter! I hope that we can continue to collaborate under the banner of the group of economic law researchers at our beautiful Faculty. So, let's raise a glass to our collegiality, to friendship, and to our future adventures together! Cheers!