Dear Colleagues,

A mere fourteen centuries old, DUBROVNIK is a young town compared to its older northern sisters of Split or Trogir, whose history goes back to the Greek colonisation of more than two millennia ago. Dubrovnik’s history begins in the 7th century on a rocky island where the remaining Roman citizens of the nearby city of Epidaurum (today’s Cavtat) sought refuge from the invading Slavic tribe of Croats. Soon afterwards, the narrow strait separating the island from the shore where the Croats settled was filled in and made into a connecting street. Thereafter, the two cultures continued growing the settlement together and started the history of a remarkable multicultural city whose later elements incorporated Turkish, French and Austrian

We are proud to welcome you to ECTA’s Annual Conference in June 2016 - only three years after Croatia joined the European Union - to explore in person this fascinating story, which can be felt, heard, tasted and carried back home as a lasting memory of a unique experience.

Our conference will be held on Babin Kuk, a peninsula beside the Dubrovnik port of Gruž, at the Lacroma hotel and VALAMAR group resort that includes three to five star hotels, conference and recreational facilities.

The Working Programme will start on Wednesday and finish on Friday with the emphasis on the coming into- force of the EU legislative package trade mark reform. In a nod to the merchant history of Dubrovnik, and the increased understanding of the importance of the trade mark reform necessary to reflect the modern consumer and business needs, the topic of the 2016 ECTA has been titled Rogue Waves and Crosswinds: Trade Marks in Motion.

There is no doubt that continuous intellectual property reforms have become a process rather than an event, especially considering the ceaseless technological innovations and constant introduction of new business models. Have we moved far beyond the jagged rocks of the Paris and Berne Conventions and can new lands be seen on the horizon? The idea behind the chosen theme is to free the discourse the
IP profession has held for too many decades from the traditional mould and finally start exploring new emerging possibilities. The abolition of the graphical representation of a trade mark application in the new EU Trade mark Law is just one example.

Although storms are not included in our programme (we certainly don’t expect any at the end of June), the contemporary climate may demonstrate its own opinion on the topic. Therefore, expect beach weather but don’t be surprised by the occasional storm. Cherish the sea in any event!

We will start the conference on Wednesday, 22 June 2016, a Croatian National holiday celebrating the anti-fascist uprising in 1941 and end it on Saturday 25 June 2016, which is a holiday celebrating the Croatian Statehood. The welcome reception will be held at the Copacabana beach, which is in the immediate vicinity of the Lacroma hotel, and will consist of light snacks and entertainment with the focus on attendees getting together and socialising in a wonderful location by the sea.

After the working programme on Thursday, the evening event will be held at the Lazareti venue next to the spectacular Dubrovnik city walls. Continuing the 1377 establishment of the World’s first quarantine compound in the rapidly-globalising Dubrovnik Republic, the present day Lazareti building was started in 1590 and has been recently renovated. ECTA plans to host you at Lazareti with an evening of renaissance and klapa (a cappella) music and performances. Within easy reach of the old town bars and restaurants, it will be the ideal introduction to a romantic Dubrovnik night.

On the last night of the conference ECTA will host a gala farewell dinner at the hotel resort and dinner will be accompanied by a performance of the renowned Croatian classic crossover group, 2Cellos.

Bearing in mind that Dubrovnik is neither a major administrative nor a business centre and that Croatians dress informally for business during the summer, we recommend dressing down as the locals do for the entire conference.

The excursions on Saturday will take you to Dubrovnik’s surroundings which were former territories of the Dubrovnik Republic. One excursion will tour around the bread-basket of Dubrovnik: Konavle. Here you will see the countryside that flows with wine and boasts local organic produce and specialities. Another tour will take you to Dubrovnik’s enigmatic Lokrum island, a place where legend has it Richard the Lionheart stopped on his way back from the Third Crusade in 1192.

There will also be opportunities to take city tours during the conference. The biggest prizes, however, might be the quiet moments you will catch during respites from the ECTA Annual Conference, in exploring the cobbled streets and steps of the old town and the hidden alleys that will give you snapshots of a past you can feel and breathe. A most delightful place to ponder the issues of trade mark reform indeed!

Welcome to Dubrovnik! Dobrodošli!

F. Peter Müller, ECTA President

Mladen Vukmir, Carla Biancotti & Davor Boskovic, Members of the Local Organizing Committee