Showing posts from November, 2008

Practice: UK Patent Office changes its Name, Logo and Website. Again!

What we had called the Patent Office for over 150 years has just got a new website,  a new logo and even a new name.    My first impression was that the new logo (sorry “device mark” if It has been registered) looked like the flag of Barbados (see below).  "Inspired" by the flag as one of my clients who was defending a passing off case once said.  But having compared the two close by I think that the logo  is an extraordinarily honest piece of work.   The little blobs mu st be pound coins and the bigger blobs £2 coins representing  money going down the plughole.    You see the similarity to the new logo? A good allegory of intellectual property perhaps.    Or indeed the money spent on a new website not long after the last makeover and 18 months after the last quite unnecessary name change. According to Sean Dennehey : "A lot of work has gone into refreshing the website. We hope that businesses small and large, new and longstanding will find it much easier to get the i

Practice: A2B Day

I have just returned from the first two sessions of the Bar Council's Access to the Bar Day  at Inner Temple.  The first was on public access and the second on licensed access. I wanted to attend the last session which was " targeted at members of the Bar and the Judiciary" (and the only one to carry CPD points) but it began nearly 4 hours after the end of the previous session. It was bad enough hanging around the conference room that Inner Temple rather grandiosely call "the Parliament Chamber" for more than an hour between the public access and licensed access sessions.  I found those gaps very annoying.   Having set off at an unearthly hour to make the 10:00 session I did not relish a 4 hour drive from Luton through the night after the end of the last session.   And I have work to do just like every other barrister. I am sure that the Bar Council would have attracted a much bigger audience had it staged the second session immediately after the first, and the

Patents: Court Guide

When I reviewd the new Patent Court Guide on 6 Nov   I pointed out that it did not have a specimen order.    That has now been corrected and the complete guide appears in its full glory at .   However, the old one is still on the Courts Service website. So beware.

Software Patents: Talks on Symbian

C olin Birss QC is giving a talk for the AIPPI at Allen & Overy on Symbian entitled " Symbian: Where do we stand now? " on 4 De c .   It should be good.   I have heard Colin speak before. The cost is only £20 and if I can find time to get to London I shall be there. For those who can't make that event,  NIPC Training  is also discussing Symbian and linking it with Bilski at Liverpool on 5 Feb 2009 (see  "Software Protection after  Symbian  and  Bilski"    o n .  I shall be speaking as will Robin Bartle of WP Thompson. Kirwans have also promised a speaker and we have invited contributions from the IP Office, Intellect and the NCC. You can register an interest by completing the on-line form. Symbian is a very important case.   You can read my post on the case below.

Space: Meet a Spaceman in Bradford

Former Soviet spaceman, Col. Akexander Volkov, and the head of ballistics for the Soviet space programme, Dr. Alexander Martynov, will be at the WOW Academy in Bradford between 12:00 and 15:00 on 11 Dec 2008. The timetable is as follows: 12:00 – Guests start arriving 12:30 – Buffet lunch 13:30 – An audience with Cosmonaut 14.30 – Q&A 15:00 – Tea & Coffee Ticktes from Tel 01274 436103

Moderation Policy

Someone called "Planet" contributed a comment to my blog in Mandarin.   I have not yet got round to learning that language (a project for retirement perhaps) but I ran it through Google translate and it came out as "Evidence of Limitations".    The comment occurred in a request for contributions to a re-launched Northern Intellectual Property Review .   Possibly the author was offering a contribution on whatever limitation period exists in the jurisdiction in which he or she had in mind. Something to do with the limitation period expiring before the application had proceeded to grant as in Lucas v CAV Ltd.   [1986] 1 WLR 462  perhaps?   Alternatively, he or she was making a gratuitous observation about some other feature of the blog. If the former I should be glad to consider such an article but the contribution has to be in standard English. That is to say the orthography that applies in most of the Commonwealth rather than the North American dialect of our langua

Northern Intellectual Property Review

Between 1997 and 2001 we published a number of newsletters which won a lot of praise.   They even earned me and my tenants a few free lunches with the likes of Hobson Audley (now Faegre & Benson) , Wragge & Co  and Allen & Overy . We played around with several titles but the one that stuck was the Northern Intellectual Property Review. That reflected the focus on IP, technology, media and entertainment issues affecting mainly  small businesses outside London. Although it was successful professionally it was a disaster financially and I had to abandon it when we merged with Kingsgate.    Since then Web 2.0 publishing technology has been developed which reduces considerably the cost of low volume print runs and of course many subscribers will now accept publications over the Internet in pdf format.  I have done some more research and costings and believe that with the help of other IP practitioners I can revive the journal.   I am therefore looking for material to publish. 

Patents: Software Protection after Symbian and Bilski

Possibly the most important intellectual property decision of this year from the point of view of British business will be the Court of Appeal's decision in Symbian Ltd v Comptroller General of Patents [2008] EWCA Civ 1066 (8 Oct 2008). In that judgment the CA affirmed Mr. Justice  Patten's decision to allow an appeal from the hearing officer, Mrs. Chalmers, who had upheld the examiner's objection that an application for a patent for  "a method of accessing data in a computing device and, in particular to a method of accessing data held in a dynamic link library in the computing device. The present invention also relates to a computing device controlled by the method" was excluded from patentability by s.1 (2) of the Patents Act 1977 on the ground that it related to a computer program "as such" (see Symbian Ltd . 30 July 2007).  Why Symbian is important The commercial significance of the CA's decision is that it opens the way for patents for at lea

Company Names Tribunal: New Fixed Fee Service

One of the many innovations of the Companies Act 2006   is a right under s.69  to object to the incorporation of a company in a name that is: (a)   the same as a name associated with the person raising the objection in which the objector has goodwill; or (b)   so similar to such a name that its use in the United Kingdom would be likely to mislead by suggesting a connection between the company and the objector.   Examples of cases where those circumstances occurred include  Glaxo Plc v. Glaxowellcome Limited  [1996] FSR 388 and  Direct Line Group Limited v. Direct Line Estate Agency  [1997] FSR 374.   In Glaxo, for instance ,. the defendants incorporated Glaxowellcome shortly after a merger between Glaxo and the Wellcome group had been announced in the hope of extracting a ransom for the name from the new holding company.  Those cases anticipated the practice of domain name squatting which led to a number of expensive trade mark infringement and passing off actions such as  Pitman Trai

USA: What will Obama do for IP?

While queuing for tea during the mid-afternoon break at the WIPO domain name panellists' meeting in Geneva last month, I got chatting to am American colleague. I asked her which state she was from and she replied Illinois.  "Oh Senator Obama's state", I remarked.  "Not only that." She said, "I used to work with Michelle Obama." My colleague told me that she had entered Sidley Austin LLP  at the same time as Mrs. Obama and had worked on the same team. That team was apparently the non-patent IP team. Delightedly I exclaimed: "So Mrs. Obama is also an IP lawyer!" "Indeed she is" my colleague replied, adding that she met her husband through the firm. He was on a temporary work placement with Sidleys and her job was to look after him. So with that kind of background we can expect great things from the new president. Or can we? The best indicator of what the president-elect will do is the transition website "" . At

Practice: Access to the Bar

My professional body is running a full day event a t the  Inner Temple   in the Smoke known a s A ccess to the Bar Da y (” “A2B" ) on 27 Nov 2008 to provide up-to-date information about instructing the Bar directly. T his event is open to everyone. If you are an inventor, designer, angel, musician, business owner or any other kind of creative, enterprising or innovative individual who is fed up with paying good money for mediocre legal services this event is for you.   Speakers include: Biddie Prentice MP ( Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice) Paul Darling QC a construction silk with a good sense of humour who trained with me to become a mediator many years ago Tim Dutton QC   head honcho of the Bar for a few more weeks Prof Flood of Westminster Uni who is doing some research on public access  Marc Beaumont who runs the Public Access Bar Association and a whole load of other folk including me.   Don't be put off by the twee abbreviation.   Th

Practice: New Patents Court Guide

I have just had an email from Richard Miller QC to say that a new Patents Court Guide  (dated September 2008) has appeared on HM Courts Service website though the November 2003 guide remains for the time being on another part of the HMCS site. Possibly the reason for keeping the old one is that it contains specimen directions whereas the new one does not.    On a quick run through I spotted the following changes: a statement of what most practitioners probably already knew, namely that cases of technical difficulty 4 and 5 will normally be tried by Mr Justice Kitchin or Mr Justice Floyd who, of course, came from the patent bar whereas the others practised in general chancery; Kav's full contact details (tel 020 7073 4251, fax 020 7073 4253, ( and some practical guidance on issuing and listing; the paragraph on arrangements for sitting outside London (a subject very dear to my heart) has been promoted form para. 18 of the old guide to para. 1.5