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Showing posts from 2007

New Blogs: Securing Innovation

I am gratefulto Stephen Nipper for drawing my attention to a new blog published by ip.com Inc called "Securing Innovation". He actually calls it an IP blog of note. The blog focuses on IP management and it has some interesting articles on the company's services.

Ip.com is actually a company I know a little since its UK arm is or at least was managed by my very good friend Dr. Ron Jones of Horizon Ceramics. It offers a number of services in this country including conferences and seminars on IP. I had the pleasure of speaking at one at Lancaster University last year. Its other services include searches, a secure document repository and a service called "defensive publication" which is probably more relevant to a first-to-invent regime like the USA than a first-to-file system like our own.

Ron's wife, Wei Huang, runs a very interesting consultancy called VTZ International which assists UK and other foreign businesses to sell to or invest in China. She actual…

Registered Community Designs: EC Accession to the Hague Agreement

On 1 Jan 2008, the EC (including the UK notwithstanding our wonderful PM's prior engagement at the Kirkcaldy Sea Otters' early morning Hogmanay swim around the Bass Rock or indeed to do just about anything to avoid showing enthusiasm for the EU) accedes to the Hague Agreement. This agreement is a bit like the Madrid Protocol and the Patent Co-operation Treaty in that it facilitates multiple applications for design registration from a single filing.

EC accession to Hague will not be anything like as far-reaching as its accession to Madrid since the only sizable countries outside Europe that are party to the agreement are Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore and Turkey, but accession does present a protection option to British design owners that did not previously exist.

Even though HMG is not acceding to Hague in its own right, EC accession necessitates amendments to our law. S.11ZA (1) A) of the Registered Design Act 1949 will change from:

"The registration of a design (“th…

Pork Pie Winner

I am glad to announce a winner of my pork pie offer. The first and so far only person outside West Yorkshire to pronounce Slaithwaite like a local is Mrs Jean Sutherland. Jean is a Scottish solicitor of West Country and North British provenance residing and domiciled in Caledonia. Having said that, she did go to school in Harrogate and lived in Elland for a while. Nevertheless she qualifies for the prize and if E. Grange & Son do mail order one of their biggest and juiciest pies is on its way to the homeland of Barney and Beazley'snew friend.

Going to the Dogs - Quite Literally

After sounding off about the contemptible attack on the rule of law in Pakistan including the sickening sight of attacks on peaceful demonstrations by lawyers a few weeks ago, I vowed to stick to intellectual property in future. However, this spectacle by an honorary silk, bencher and first lord of the Treasury warrants another departure from this blog's editorial policy. Tone doesn't even make top billing. Starpulse rates Alan Jackson (whoever he may be) as the main guest star. This episode reminds me of the depiction at Naqsh-e Rustam of the humiliation of two Roman emperors by Shapur I of Persia. Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Cartoons often drew Tone as a poodle, didn't they.

General Gossip: wiki revisions, EPC2000, my wonderful MP and the Copyright Act 1956

Just to let you know that I have uploaded the passing off page in the brands tree of WikIP.

Just in case you missed it, the revisions to the European Patent Convention agreed at Munich on 29 Nov 2000 came into force yesterday. It's already spawned the Patents Act 2004. If you want a belly laugh just look at the sort of guff that our wonderful government trumpeted in its press release (see Lord Triesman's press release on the UK-IPO website). Not a word about art 2 of the Protocol on the Interpretation of art 69 EPC you'll notice. They talk about nothing else in Slaithwaite Working Men's Club. A free Granges pork pie by the way, for the first reader not of West Riding residence or provenance to ring me up with the correct pronunciation of Slaithwaite. Clue, a pompous specimen of the young bar from the Smoke called Braithwaite got very tetchy when I referred to him as "my learned friend Mr Browit". Not surprising really when you think about the total lack of int…

IP Crime: Intellectual Property Crime Report

One of therecommendations of the late lamented DTI'sInnovation Report of 2003 was to develop a new strategy for dealing with IP Crime. Accordingly the UK-IPO set up set up a specialist IP Crime Group in 2004 to:

- Carry out a National IP Crime Strategy and publish an Annual Enforcement Report- Bring together government policy-makers, industry and enforcers to create a co-ordinated approach to IP enforcement- Establish an accurate measurement of IP crime within the UK- Identify areas of threat and specific harm- Support training for enforcement officers and spread best practice- Build a more consistent approach to enforcement of IP crime and- Raise consumer awareness.The latest annual report has now been published and it makes pretty depressing reading. Apparently The true measure of the level of IP crime within the UK or for that matter the whole of the OECD is unknown but believed to be "significant". The Group makes the following recommendations:The UK - IPO in conjunct…

Wikid - Change of Name and New Pages

Thank you to everyone who has had a kind word for my IP Wiki, especially David Pearce who pointed out that my IP wiki was not the first in the UK. It rather reminds me of "IPKat eats Humble Pie" a couple of years ago when the IPKat team found out that I was not the first barrister to publish an IP Blog. David has referred me to UK Patents for which I am grateful because it is really good.

I have changed the name of the wiki from "Intellectual Property" to "WIKIP". Such an obvious pun. Someone must surely have fenced it off for am IP wiki before now. Actually, someone has registered it as a domain name but for what appears to be an excellent beverage called zrii which is "a blend of pure natural fruits and herbs based on 5,000 years of Ayurvedic health wisdom and Western medical science which work together in a nutritional preservative free form. Apparently the "Zrii taste enlivens the tongue and delivers the potency of amalaki" (see http://w…

Design Right and Personal Liability of Directors: Societa Esplosivi Industriali Spa v Ordnance Technologies (UK) Ltd Round 2

This was the second round of a case that had already been partly decided by Mr Justice Lewison nearly 4 years ago (see SocietaEsplosiviIndustriali SPA v Ordnance Technologies Ltd. and Others [2004] EWHC 48 (Ch) (21 Jan 2004)). That judge had declined to decide certain issues at that trial because the defendants had failed to give adequate disclosure. The issues that remained were:
- whether the defendant Ordnance Technologies Ltd. and its former managing director were in breach of contract;
- whether they had infringed the claimant's copyright;
- whether they had breached obligations of confidence and equitable confidence; and
- whether they had infringed the claimant's design right.
The dispute concerned weapons systems, namely multiple warhead systems and dense metal penetrators. By the time the adjourned issues came on for trial, Ordnance Technologies Ltd. had been wound up and the dispute was essentially between the claimant and that company's former managing director. Thes…

Wikid - Services for SME, Inventors and Designers

We were one of the firstbarristers'chambers with a website, one of the first with a blog, one of the first with a ".eu" TLD (though we have not yet decided how to use it), one of the few with a ".law.pro" domain (though we are probably going to give that up) and the first with a WAP site (which we definitely have given up). Now we are one of the first (if not the first) to launch and support a voluntary public wiki for our area of the law.

We could be wrong, but we think we have the first IP law wiki anywhere - at least in the UK Like our other websites and this blog, the wiki will concentrate on advice for SME and creative and innovative individuals. They need specialist legal services just as much as Siemens and Microsoft but can't afford the silly fees that are often charged for such services.

Though this has been launched and is supported by nipc it is open to everyone with an interest in IP and technology law and we hope everybody will take part.

Claims against States: Czech Republic v European Media Ventures SA

Governments undertake international obligations to protect the intellectual assets of their own and other countries' nationals but what happens if they don't? What if, for example, a state does not enforce its brand new copyright statute or even enact copyright legislation with the result that pirate copies of first run films or the latest application software flood world markets?

If the delinquent state belongs to the WTO (World Trade Organization) victims of that state's failure to suppress piracy can ask their government to call upon that state to comply with its obligations under TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). If that state fails to do mend its ways, the complaining state can call for consultations under Annexe 2 to the WTO Agreement. Should those consultations fail a dispute settlement panel can be set up which will report to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO. If a breach is found and the member in breach still does not live up to …

Patents: The Bargain the Public makes with Inventors

At noon today I am to give a talk to the bright eyed and bushy tailed inventors of Bradford at Gumption for Business Link, West Yorkshire. These talks are supposed to be very upbeat and uplifting but sometimes I think it is useful to let folk know the very hard bargain that we the British public drive with inventors. This is a short extract from my manuscript:
“If you can persuade us that you have invented a new, inventive and useful product or process that does not fall within a number of exceptions, if you teach everyone in the industry how to make or use it, and then pay us a lot of money we shall register a specification of your invention at our intellectual property office. Registration will give you the a monopoly of that product or process in our territory known as a “patent” and so long as you keep paying us a lot of money periodically, you can enjoy that monopoly for up to 20 years. We can’t promise that you will make any money from your invention. That’s up to you and your cu…

Patents: New Patent Rules and Tribunal Practice Notice

One of the recommendations of the Gowers Report on Intellectual Property was for the Ministry of Justice (as the Department of Constitutional Affairs is now called) to "review the issues raised in relation to IP cases and the fast track and seek views in the context of its forthcoming consultation paper, which will consider the case track limits, and how the claims process can be made more timely, proportionate and cost-effective. It should bring forward any proposals for change by the
end of 2007" (Recommendation 54).

Like much of the report this recommendation was based on the false premise that "many of the benefits of the fast track system, such as capped costs, limited trial length and limited disclosure, do not apply to IP cases" (para 6.30). Nobody seems to have mentioned to them the streamlined procedure in the Patents Court and Patents County Court:


"A streamlined procedure is one in which, save and to the extent that it is otherwise ordered:
(i) all fact…

Invention: Catching 'Em Young

I don't agree with Trevor Baylis on everything (indeed, come to think of it, I don't think I agree with him on most things that I have heard him say) but one of Trev's remarks with which I would heartily agree is that it is never too early to inculcate inventiveness in our schoolchildren. He goes a bit OTT in suggesting copyright notices on school essays but he is on the right lines generally.

Now one chap who is already teaching kids to invent is David Garlovsky from the 'Schools and Homes Energy Education Project', who was our speaker at Sheffield Inventors Club this evening. David has a relation in the USA who has invented and now produces flexible solar panels which can do all sorts of neat things like power the second hands of clocks for a time and drive model soap boxes slowly not to mention catamarans made out of plastic bottles. David's not for profit company gets Sheffield school kids to find uses for those panels. In the process they invent things. An…

Community Trade Marks: Great Gizmos - to stay or not to stay

Regular readers (if there are any left) will have noted that this blog has been very quiet for months on end. There are a couple of reasons for that. One that I can't tell you about just yet but those who know me or indeed those who know Manchester can guess. And one that I can tell you which is that I was foolish enough to be flattered by Gower Publishing to write 65,000 to 75,000 words on enforcing intellectual property rights in everyday language for small business which has proved to be one of the most frustrating and difficult projects of my life. I have just learned that the manuscript has been accepted for publication so yippee. I have to worry about corrections, proofs, authors' blurb and all that sort of guff but at least I can return to regular blogging on a slightly less infrequent basis.

Well what better case with which to cast off than Mr Justice Mann's decision in Kitfix Swallow Group Ltd v Great Gizmos Ltd[2007] EWHC 2668 (Ch) (22 Nov 2007). This was an appli…

Patents: New Announcement on EPO, Japan and USPTO Co-operation

Liza Porteus of Intellectual Property Watch has just published a very interesting article on the result of various discussions between EPO, Japan Patent Office and USPTO officials which have taken place in Washington over the last few days. Apparently, the three offices intend to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding between them on the alignment of the patent application system some time today. Also likely to be announced today, according to Liza, is a plan to pilot a three-way search service next year and the permanent adoption of the "Patent Prosecution Highway" (a reciprocal process by which the JPO and USPTO agree that if either of them decides that at least one claim of a patent application is patentable the other will accelerate the application process of the patent) and perhaps its extension to other patent offices such as ours.

I have to say that there is nothing about these momentous announcements on the trilateral (joint EPO, JPO and USPTO) webs…

China: IP China 2007 29-30 Nov 2007

I have just received an invitation to what appears to be a very interesting conference in Beijing at the end of this month. Not quite enough notice for me, I'm afraid, but here are the details it in case others closer to China can attend.

The programme includes discussion on:
dispute resolution led by the IP manager of Actions Semiconductor Co., Ltd. between 10:30 and 12:00 on 29 Novfinancing of intellectual property rights for enterprises: patent pledging; patent capitalization; patent securitization by someone from Liancheng Assets Appraisal Firm between 16:30 and 17:40 on the same day; andspeeches from various senior government and IP office officials the next morning.Attendance is apparently limited to 300 and the vent will take place at the Beijing Xinyuan Hotel. The fee seems ridiculously cheap if I have cut and pasted the information correctly or the email is right - USD150.00 or less than £75 in real money - that's a fraction of what UK conference organizers like CLT cha…

Not even the Taliban stooped this low

This isan intellectual property blog not a political one. I do have religious and political views but I generally keep them out of here. However, photographs of armed thugs beating up lawyers (many of whom I am likely to know) and bundling them into paddy wagons is an outrage that demands a departure from political neutrality.

The failure of our government and that of the USA, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and just about every right thinking country immediately to sever diplomatic relations and impose economic sanctions at least as stringent as those contemplated for Iran against a pathetic litigant who attacks his judges in a case that is about to go against him is nothing short of scandalous.

If Jonathan Edwards really wants to know why so many of our young people are receptive to subversive propaganda, our tolerance and indeed support of oppressive regimes in the Islamic world like this one on the ground that it is an ally in the so called "war on terror" should give him …

What is it about Women Inventors?

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The speaker at yesterday's meeting of Sheffield Inventors' Club was Rowena Mead. Rowena is a 24 year old mother whose little girl, Saskia, seemed to accept anything in her mouth except the bristle end of a conventional tooth brush. The handle was fine. Saskia chewed that up good and proper - just like a puppy. Rowena produced one of Saskia's old tooth brushes as evidence. That sparked the idea in Rowena's mind of a colourful, bendy tooth brush that was all bristle. It is now the subject of a registered Community design (000710330-0001 ) together with its container and various patent applications.
In contrast to most of our speakers (and indeed members) who tend to be male and of a certain age, Rowena is a very personable young lady. She had appeared on the BBC TV Money Programme on Friday, 2 Nov 2007 so we had a better than average attendance yesterday. But what impressed everybody about Rowena was her get-up and go. She had taken her invention from idea to finished pr…

US Patents: US Patent Reform

In the latest issue of her excellent monthly "Intellections", Toni Tease has analysed two identical patent reform bills that were introduced simultaneously into the House of Representatives and Senate on 18 April 2007. Toni had previously forwarded me the draft legislation in a .pdf file but as US legislation is drafted in a particularly arcane way I did not grasp the full significance of the proposed changes until I read Toni's article. The bills apparently have the support of both political parties and were introduced by the chairman of an IP sub-committee in their lower house (why don't we have something like an IP committee in the House of Commons, Mountford?) and by the chair of the Judiciary Committee in the upper house.The bill will bring US patent law closer to ours in Europe in the following respects:

1. First to File rather than First to Invent
Unlike most countries US law gives the first person to invent priority rather than the first to file. I understand t…

General Kite Flying: Are Patent Agents Lawyers?

I was jolted from my reverie during the UK-IP Office's IP awareness seminar at the Thackray Museum in Leeds last week while listening to Bobby Smithson justifying the existence of patent agents (oops "attorneys") by reading out claim 1 of caveman Ug's patent specification for a revolutionary prehistoric invention known as "The Wheel". Ug had had a bash at drawing up his own patent application but decided to consult a patent attorney.

So far good lullaby until Bobby described a patent attorney as a sort of "specialist lawyer".

"What!" I retorted. "Yes, yes" said Vivian Irish who was sitting next to me. "We advise on the law."

"So do accountants, tax consultants, planning consultants and costs draftsmen" I replied. "If you why not them?"

Personally, I can't see why patent agents changed the name of their profession from "patent agent" to "patent attorney". It seems about as fo…

Public Access ≠ Public Enemy

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A meeting of counsel undertaking public access work should have takenplace at 23 Essex Street this afternoon. The purpose of the meeting was to launch a new bar association to be known as PABA (Public Access Bar Association). I had been invited but was unable to attend as I was attending a reception for my old friend Dai Davis, who has recently moved firms. However, I certainly intend to join and contribute to the PABA once it is up and running. The Bar on Direct Access The rule that counsel could accept instructions or give advice only through a solicitor, patent or trade mark attorney or other professional intermediary dates back only to the 1950s. When introduced, the rule was probably in the public interest. Members of the public had less information on the law and few had any idea of how to obtain legal services. There was a sharp distinction between solicitors and counsel. Law firms were limited to 20 partners, fewer solicitors were graduates and information storage and communic…

Leeds Metropolitan University: Two Substantial Initiatives

No rest for the wicked so they say. One hour after I had shambled back from Sierra Leone I had to dash off to Leeds for a meeting at Leeds Metropolitan University. While I grumbled about it at the time, I am very glad that I made the effort because what I was shown was impressive. The former Friends' Meeting House at Woodhouse Lane has been transformed into The Institute for Enterprise which will be made available to the general public as well as to staff and students of the University.

The Institute has all sorts of magnificent facilities:
a meeting space in the vestibuleconventional class and seminar roomsa soundproof room for confidential discussion a cafe at the entrance.Every room and space has internet access and a screen for presentations. The reason for the invitation was that the University had offered to host the April Leeds Inventors' Club meeting at the Institute. We had a really entertaining talk by Tony Bryant, the University's Professor of Informatics, entitle…

Sierra Leone

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I have just returned from 2 weeks in Sierra Leone. I had intended to visit the Administrator and Registrar-General's Department which appears to be the local intellectual property authority but the main town, Freetown, is not the easiest city to get around and I was supposed to be on holiday. Instead, I did the next best thing which was to talk to local practising and academic lawyers about intellectual property protection in their country.

On paper Sierra Leone ticks most of the right boxes. It has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 23 July 1995 which is almost as long as us. Consequently, it must have been one of the first countries in the world to ratify TRIPs. It is party to the Paris Convention, the PCT, the Madrid Agreement and Protocol and the WIPO Convention but not, apparently, Berne or the UCC. According to the WIPO, the country's domestic intellectual property legislation is archaic:- patents are granted under the Patents Act of 1924,
- trade marks u…

Community Patents: Regulation comes into force at midnight

One item of business transacted at the special Council meeting in Berlin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that appears to have been overlooked in the furore over the revival of the constitutional treaty and the arrest of one of our naval units by Iranian forces is the adoption of the Community patent regulation.

This regulation, which comes into force at midnight, will empower the European Patent Office to grant a Community wide European patent in addition to the nationally designated patents that it grants at present. "This is a day I never thought I would ever see", said Ron Marchant. "It's a bit like Gerry Adams sitting down with Ian Paisley. But that happened last Monday and so has this momentous decision to adopt the regulation. There have been so many false dawns starting with the Community Patent Convention which was unfortunately never ratified and it is good to see something come of it at last. It will of course mean a lot less wor…

Enforcement: English Patent Court Practice

Paragraph 7.9 (2) of PD63 requires claimants in the Patents Court to file a Reading Guide for the judge not less than 4 days before trial. Such Reading Guide must set out the issues, the parts of the documents that need to be read on each issue and the most convenient order that they should be read; identifying relevant passages in text books and cases, if appropriate. Paragraph 11 of the Patent Court Guide adds that parties should endeavour to produce a composite document setting forth the matters alleged to form part of the common general knowledge and, where they disagree, what that disagreement is.

According to Richard Miller QC, Mr Justice Pumfrey has complained that pre-reading estimates in patent cases are often unrealistic and therefore unhelpful. Practitioners have been reminded that the estimate should allow time for the judge to read the patent, the prior art, the expert's reports and evidence of fact, skeleton arguments, and any other key documents. A further allowance …