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Showing posts from June, 2008

Barnsley: Talk Digital Media Centre 10:30 Wednesday 11 June 2008

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I am giving an introductory talk on Intellectual Property to the Barnsley Digital Media Centre pictured above at 10:30 tomorrow. Call in if you happen to be in the area. It is free and the Jane Townsend of the Centre promises us some very nice cakes with our morning coffee. Also with me will be my friend Professor Ron Jones of Horizon Ceramics who is doing great things at the Advanced Manufacturing Centre at Catcliffe near Sheffield.
Barnsley is a surprising place. A short walk from the Centre is Pollyanna which is really droolworthy (I think I've just invented a word - let's see if the Oxford Dictionary picks it up in 20 years time). Pollyana also has a very pleasant cafe. If the seminar goes well we shall try to set up a regular BarnsleyIP Clinic like the ones we run in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield. So look forward to seeing you tomorrow. As you can see from the photo above, there is always plenty of parking.

"Innovation Nation": who is HMG trying to kid

I have just finished ploughing my way through the latest white paper on innovation "Innovation Nation" which appeared in March and I really wish I hadn't. White papers, reports, reviews and policy statements on innovation from this government rival Zimbabwe dollar bank notes in their profusion and value. We have had HM Treasury Science and Innovation Strategy 2001, the DTI Innovation Report 2003, Lambert, Gowers in 2006 to mention just a few. All gathering dust as will this one.

The one report which actually gave HMG some sensible advice is the IPAC Report "The Enforcement of Patent Rights" (November 2003) which now appears only on Mandy Haberman's website. That report together with Mandy's and Roland Hill's minority report Patent Enforcement for SME and Lone Inventors - A System Failure and several others made the point that the cost of IPR enforcement in the UK is many times greater than what it is in the rest of Europe. The cost of a typical pat…

US Design Patents: Shades of BL and Volvo v Veng

Dennis Crouch has just published a very interesting case note on Ford Global Technologies v. ITC (Fed. Cir. 2008). This is an appeal from a decision of the International Trade Commission upon an application by the Ford Motor Company to bar the importation into the USA motor vehicle spare parts from Taiwan. There is no system of design registration in the USA. Nor is there any kind of unregistered design protection except, curiously, boat hulls pursuant to Title V of the Digital Millennium, Copyright Act. Designs are protected in the USA by a special type of patent known as a "design patent".

Dennis's article suggests that the right conferred by a design patent has very little use in the motor vehicle after market except where there has been slavish copying and there are all sorts of problems over novelty. It is the opposite of the way we used to protect component designs with copyright (see British Leyland Motor Corp and others v Armstrong Patents Company Ltd and others

Interim Remedies: Sovereign Dimensional Survey Ltd

Despite 300 years of political union and until recently a common legislature there remain striking differences between the laws of Scotland and those of the rest of the UK. Occasionally these come to light. A case that highlights them dramatically came before M Wise QC sitting as a temporary (presumably deputy) judge on Friday.

This was the sort of case that still comes before chancery interim applications judges from time to time and before Universal Thermosensors Ltd v Hibben [1992] 1 WLR 840 was commonplace. A high tech company engaged in dimensional control and laser scanning services to the oil and gas industries suspected that one of its former directors had made off with some of its trade secrets. It took steps to recover them.

Had the case happened in England the employer might have applied for a search order under CPR Part 25. In Scotland the equivalent procedure appears to be to petition for the appointment of a silk as a "Commissioner" to search for and take all ot…

Copyright and Confidence: Meridian International Services Ltd v Richardson and Others

Although there is not much law in this case, the Court of Appeal's decision in Meridian International Services Ltd v Richardson and others [2008] EWCA Civ 609 (4 June 2008) serves as an object lesson in the need for agreeing who will hold title to a computer program or other copyright work. It is a case that the sort of people who consult me should bear in mind. That is because big companies are usually much more likely to address this issue during negotiations than SME (small and medium enterprises).

In April 2006 the claimant company agreed to supply a financial forecasting system to a division of GlaxoSmithKline. That agreement contained a warranty that the claimant owned the intellectual property in the system. It outsourced the development of the software to the defendants but failed to make sure that it would acquire title to the copyrights and other IPR that might subsist in the defendants' work. Consequently, the claimant was in breach of warranty and in effect h…

Je Reviens

Being transsexual is not perhaps the best career move for a middle aged intellectual property barrister. Not even for one such as I with an unconventional practice. I thought long and hard about deleting this blog and starting again on Typepad in my new name. But Movable Type costs money and I'm from Yorkshire. Anyway, everybody who knows me professionally knows of my change of name and gender. I am not ashamed of myself or of the posts that I contributed under my old name.

So more of the same? Not quite. I will still post case notes, summaries of important legislation, bits of gossip here and there from the robing room, LES meeting and the like info about local IP seminars and other events. However, I will try to lighten it up a bit with some funny stories. Plenty of those about in real life if you live in the setting for "Last of the Summer Wine" and practise the same profession as Rumpole.