Showing posts from December, 2008

Practice: Motor Industry - Parallels with the Legal System

The University of Southern California held a conference at San Diego earlier this month on Leading Legal Innovation.  It seems to have attracted some distinguished academics and a sprinkling of practising lawyers though, sadly, none from the UK so far as I can see.    Susan Block has reported on what seems to have been one of the more interesting conference papers which was presented by Prof. Stephen Burbank of Pennsylvania Law School in yesterday's AMLaw Daily, " The Innovation Agenda: Are Lawyers Stuck in GM's Tire Tracks?" . According to the report Prof. Burbank drew interesting parallels between the structures and attitudes of the US motor industry and legal professions. As we all know US car markers have problems as indeed do car makers everywhere including the UK. Can parallels be drawn here? There are certainly similarities. Parts of our legal profession have done very well over the last few years so why fix it?   I think the answer to that is provided by Pro

Software Patents: New Guidance from the IPO

On 8 Dec 2008 Sean Dennehey signed a new practice note on the patenmtability of computer programs to take account of the CA's decision in Symbian . T he main changes relate to: what constitutes a technical contribution for the purpose of determing whether a program is patentable; and clarificaiton of the exclusions in s.1 of the Patents Act 1977. Technical Contribution The Intellectual Property Office had previously recognized inventions that either solve technical problems external to a computer or solve "a technical problem within the computer" as potentially patentable inventions. The sea change of Symbian  is that  "improving the operation of a computer by solving a problem arising from the way the computer was programmed - for example, a tendency to crash due to conflicting library program calls - can also be regarded as solving "a technical problem within the computer" if it leads to a more reliable computer. Thus, a program that results in a computer

Company Names: Not Quite the Real Thing

The new Company Names Tribunal,  which I mentioned in my announcement of our chambers new fixed fee service on 10 November, has just published its first three decisions. They are: The Coca-Cola Company v  Coke Cola Limited Zurich Insurance Company v  Zurich Financial Special Risk Limited , and Zurich Insurance Company v  Zurich Financial Special Risk Limited . None of the respondents defended the applications and the adjudicators found for the applicants in all three cases. Costs of £700 were awarded (£400 for the issue fee and £300 for the statement of case). Our fee for settling a statement of case is £300 + VAT. Merry Christmas!

Practice: Desmond Browne: 'The Bar is not for me'

On the very day that Rio Tinto announced 14,000 redundancies, Sony another 8,000, Mercedes short term working and Woolworths finally gave up the ghost The Independent published an extract of a speech by Dersmond Browne (the Chairperson-Elect of the English and Welsh bar) entitled    'The Bar is not for me' – words no one should say to themselves"   Giving Browne as much credit as one can, it was good that he bemoaned the under-representation of black, minority, ethnic barristers in the self-employed bar, on the bench and in silk. I've just become a member of a minority group (and quite a vulnerable one at that) and appreciate his concern. The problem is that the only way to change that balance without a purge of those already there would be to recruit more barristers. At a time when every other industry in the world is cutting capacity ours must be the only one that is actually talking about expanding it.   That, of course, is ridiculous. Let there be no mistake, if th

NIPC Mediation: New Specialist IP Dispute Resolution Service

When I trained to become a mediator in 2000, mediation was regarded as the answer to lengthy delays and rocketing costs in the civil justice system but it has recently begun to acquire a bad name. The process has become expensive with the result that it sometimes hinders rather than facilitates a just resolution of a result. One of the things I was told during my training that a good mediator can settle any kind of dispute irrespective of the subject matter of the dispute. Much the sort of guff as used to be spouted by generations of Rumpoles on advocacy. The notion of the all rounder able to turn his or her hand to any kind of case was never true of advocacy and I very much doubt that it is true of mediation. I have often felt the need for a specialist mediation service with panellists who understand licensing and know how to value intellectual assets as well as being familiar with IP law and practice.   Of course, no single practitioner is likely to have all those skills.   Patent co

Trade Marks and Passing Off: Hotel Cipriani SRL and Others v Cipriani (Grosvenor Street) Ltd & Ors [2008] EWHC 3032 (Ch) (9 Dec 2008)

When I worked for VISA in 1984 I believe I had lunch at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. I can't remember a vast amount about it other than that one had to take a boat trip. The food was OK though it can't have been all that outstanding because I can't remember what I ate. By contrast, I can remember every morsel of a meal at The Auberge de l'Il in Alsace. Having said that I have always been a bit down on Venice ( Sorry Jan Morris ) for various reasons. Not least the proclivity of the local dustmen to clatter their bins at about 3 AM and carry on a conversation at the top of their voices every day without fail when I had to get up early to do a day's work. Anyway the owners of the Hotel Cipriani have just won an action against the owners of the Cipriani London for trade mark infringement and passing off ( Hotel Cipriani SRL and Others v Cipriani (Grosvenor Street) Ltd and Other s [2008] EWHC 3032 (Ch) (9 Dec 2008). Not the least remarkable feature of this case is

My Memories of Sir Hugh Laddie

I was on my way to a conference when I heard of Sir Hugh's death and could manage only a short announcement. But, I had to say more because I was really sorry to learn of his death. I can't say I knew him at all well but I did see enough of him to like and respect him. Here's why. VISA Trade Mark Application I first met Hugh Laddie in 1983 when I was legal advisor to VISA International  for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  My employer had instructed Lloyd Wise (now part of Marks & Clerk) to apply to register VISA as a trade mark for travellers cheques and payment cards. In those days, trade marks could be registered in the UK for goods but not services (see Aristoc v Rysta [1945]   RPC   65). In the USA it was possible to register "service marks" for services but service marks were unknown here. The examiner smelt a rat and refused the application on the grounds that our application was tantamount to an application to register a trade mark for a service.

Sir Hugh Laddie

I, together with the rest of the Patent Bar, have just learned from Richard Miller QC that Sir Hugh Laddie died on Saturday and was buried yesterday.    I feel this personally because it was he who first steered me towards the IP Bar 26 years ago. He was always very fair to me both at the Bar and the High Court bench.  I shall be adding my own tribute later but in the meantime I should like to refer readers to Jeremy Phillips's post on IPKat.    I send my sincere sympathy to his family, friends and connections.