Docent Annette Kur, Max Planck Institute: More foreign researchers needed

Almost everyone who has studied intellectual property rights further in recent years in Finland has visited the Max Planck Institute in Munich. During their visits they have had the opportunity to enjoy the company of docent Annette Kur, the manager and senior researcher at the Nordic and Baltic department, where she works with trademark and desing law. She speaks and reads Swedish, which has been a great advantage as well to her as to the visitors from the Nordic countries.

Annette Kur has a two year fellowship at the Swedish School of Economics starting in 1999. The fellowship includes teaching in Finland for the period of approximately one-month each year. She participates also in a project of advanced studies at the University of Helsinki and tutors postgraduate students with their works.

Because of her knowledge of the Swedish laguage Annette Kur is also familier with the Finnish legislation and jurisprudence. She has for example translated the Finnish Copyright Act into Germany.

The Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law is entrusted with the task of comparative research in the field of German, European and international intellectual and industrial property law. This contains the whole legal field devoted to the promotion and protection of technical inventions, designs and models, works of literature, art and science, trade marks and trade names as well as fair competition.

The Max Planck Institute is a research institute within the Max Planck Society for the promotion of science. The Institute does not undertake teaching or legal training. By studing the law and legal practice in foreing countries the Institute tries to influence in the development of the field of intellectual property rights. This is done by participating in discussions and in the work of international organisations such as WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation).

The Institute is currently organized in 14 regional and 12 subject-matter departments managed by full-time researchers under the supervision of the Institute’s director. The regional departments are mostly responsible for documentation. The attachment of researchers to the subject-matter departments is dependent on their specialized research interest.

The Max Planck Institute has 36 permanent employees. Among these there are 14 lawyers and reasechers. The Nordic department do not have permanent personel. At the moment Annette Kur’s assistant is a Finnish born young woman who has studied in Germany and lives permanently in Germany.

Usually the Nordic Department has three or four foreing reseachers, each having a scholarship from the Max Planck Foundation. Each reseacher stays from two to six months and prepairs his or her own research. Some of the Insitutes own projects have foreing researchers particularly when the research is closely related to some national issue. Annette Kur feels that in order to get a more non-German point of view to many projects it would be a positive thing to have more foreign researchers also in the institute’s own projects.

A network for researchers studying intellectual property rights functions in the Nordic countries. Researchers and their tutors gather together at least once a year to present their studies to others, but first of all to discuss the problems they have come across in their work. The organiser for the network is Professor Marianne Lévin from the University of Stockholm. Annette Kur has participated in these meetings from the beginning. She values these meetings as a very important way of communication among researchers and scholars. The bond between the reseachers in the Nordic countries is not only the similar legislation but also a similar way of thinking and arguing. According to Annette Kur the atmosphere in this group is very friendly and the discussions are open. Annette says that she profits very much from this work.

The most popular field for IPR studies is copyright law, especially copyright in the the technical field and all the special questions connected to information technology. Trademarks are also quite popular for researchers. Unfortunately the field of Patents lacks researchers also in the Max Planck Institute.

The most important working facilities at the Max Planck Institute are its library and its documentation system. The library currently holds about 114,247 volumes, supplemented by an additional 133,416 volumes of the libraries of the University Institute.

As a specialized collection on German, foreign and international industrial property and copyright law the Institute’s library is unique. It thereby contributes to the education of young scholars in the area of intellectual property, especially in regard countries where no comparable research facilities exist. A task to which the Institute attributes considerable significance.

The work of the Max Planck Institute is greatly facilitated by its comprehensive documentation, which is compiled in well over 100,000 catalogued abstracts of national and foreign legislation, case law and legal literature until 1993. Since 1993, the library has used electronic data processing in almost every field of its work.

Annette Kur will be in Finland once more in October. She will give a cource concerning E-commerce, intellectual property and marketing law. IPR University Center is also going to arrange a half day seminar on E-commerce during her visit.