I am astonished (in a good way) to see that just a few minutes ago we surpassed 1600 registrations for the Schwegman Lundberg Woessner 2022 Virtual PCT Training Seminar. This Seminar is a series of fifteen webinars that will commence two days from now, on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
The person who registered a few minutes ago, who clicked our number from 1599 to 1600, is a student from the Middle East who is presently located in the UK. The person who shortly before that had clicked us from 1598 to 1599 is a European and Polish patent attorney in Warsaw. Just now our number got clicked from 1602 to 1603, and the person who made that happen is a patent paralegal in Dayton, Ohio who has sixteen years of experience doing patent paralegal work.
Before Covid happened, the Schwegman Lundberg Woessner patent firm had been carrying on a decade-long tradition of providing live in-person PCT Training Seminars free of charge for the patent community. SLW, through its SLW Institute, would rent an enormous ballroom in a big hotel and would arrange for WIPO presenters to travel to Minneapolis or San Jose, in alternate years, to stand at a lectern before hundreds of attendees for a full day, teaching the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The most recent live seminars were in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and I had the honor to be WIPO’s presenter for those particular seminars.
There were many remarkable things about these seminars. Of course the most striking aspect of these seminars is that the Schwegman firm would make the seminars available free of charge, and not only that, would provide a generous and tasty catered lunch as well as continuous coffee and other beverages and snacks throughout the day.
It is impossible to overstate the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Schwegman firm in this decade-long tradition that not only benefits the patent community generally but, frankly stated, educates people at the firms that compete with the Schwegman firm. One has no choice but to assume that the partners of the Schwegman firm figure that what goes around comes around, and that it is not the worst thing in the world if you treat others nicely.
And partly in jest but also quite seriously I mention again the continuous coffee and other caffeinated beverages that have always been provided by the Schwegman firm at these all-day events during which the sole topic being discussed for a full seven or eight very long hours was, yes, the Patent Cooperation Treaty. One has no choice but to recognize that this subject matter has the prospect of being a bit dry. It is beyond question that for some attendees the coffee and other caffeinated beverages were part of what made it possible to maintain at least some level of alertness throughout the day despite the dryness of the subject matter.
And then Covid happened. Your life turned upside down. My life turned upside down. The life of every person you and I know turned upside down. And the idea of putting hundreds of people in a big room to sit and listen while somebody on a dais droned on for seven or eight hours about the Patent Cooperation Treaty became a nullity.
Oh, yes, there were various points in the past few months when you and I and everybody we know were all teased with the notion that maybe Real Soon Now, Covid would be over, or different, or something, and maybe some things that we distantly recall from the time before Covid might happen again. Then another twist of Covid would happen and hopes would be dashed again for some unpredictable duration.
A few months ago some of the SLW people got in touch with me and we brainstormed, trying to think about some way to provide something “virtual” that might be a little bit like those all-day live PCT Training Seminars. Our brainstorming went in many directions.
Eight continuous hours of webinar? Should we pick some eight-hour period of time and simply announce that we would do a webinar that lasts eight hours? I think most people hearing of such an event would recoil in horror, especially once the topic had been disclosed. When you take a topic that is so dry that it is at the limits of human ability to stay awake for eight hours of that topic when it is being presented live and in person, and when you propose that the topic will instead be presented by means of eight hours of sitting in front of a computer monitor from a presenter who is hundreds or thousands of miles away … I think you are begging for the event to turn out to be a failure in every way that the event could possibly turn out to be a failure. Indeed if you were to make a list of the likely persons to fall asleep during the eight hours, it might not only be all of the attendees, but the presenter as well.
Not to mention, I have to assume that many potential attendees would have the common sense and self-awareness to realize that it would be unwise even to sign up for such a webinar. Maybe nobody at all would be so foolish as to sign up.
Now I know what you are thinking, and it is exactly what I thought. What is the only thing that could possibly be better than seven or eight hours of very dry subject matter? And of course we all know the answer! The only thing that could be better than seven or eight hours of very dry subject matter is, you guessed it, fifteen hours of very dry subject matter! So that is what we settled upon. Fifteen hours of material, presented for an hour at a time, every other day, over a period of six weeks.
I have to imagine that if you wanted to make a list of reasons why this is surely the worst possible format for presentation of fifteen hours of material, you could compile a pretty long list.
But we are in a world of Covid, where the plain fact is that I actually do not know how anybody could ever possibly figure out any way to present fifteen hours of material that would not have a long list of drawbacks.
What we have in front of us, however, is a plain fact. The plain fact is that no matter how crazy it sounds to organize an event like what we have in front of us, there are one thousand six hundred people who have against all odds made a decision to join the organizers at the Schwegman firm, and have made a decision to join me, in this very weird experiment.
And who knows, maybe it will actually work!
The registration web page is still open. Here it is. If you know of anybody that you think might want to attend a free-of-charge comprehensive fifteen-hour live training program on the Patent Cooperation Treaty, who has not already registered, pass this blog article along to them.
Now I know what you are thinking. You wonder, am I perhaps exaggerating how dry this subject matter is? No, I promise you I am not. It is as dry as I say, and worse. To get some sense of how dry this is, you could click on a recording of one of my recent PCT webinar lectures. I defy you to keep awake all the way to the end of even one of these lectures:
- Picking a PCT Receiving Office
- National phase or Bypass?
- Picking an International Searching Authority
If you are one of the people who have registered for this webinar series, I do encourage you to plan ahead to maximize your chances of staying awake. If you are a person who uses caffeine to stay awake, keep caffeine at the ready. Try to be well rested. Take a look at the slides ahead of time and do the best that you can to find reasons to look forward to the various topics that we will cover during each session.
I do look forward to seeing everybody at the webinars!