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Showing posts from February, 2007

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 …

IP and Development: Provisional Committee on Proposals related to a WIPO Development Agenda

William New has reported in Intellectual Property Watch that the WIPO Provisional Committee on Proposals related to a WIPO Development Agenda ("PCDA") has reached broad agreement on 40 issues at their latest meeting which took place between 19 and 23 Feb 2007. Those issues include technical assistance, technology transfer, information and communication technologies and enforcement. A final meeting of the PCDA is expected in June 2007.

Domain Names: A French Perspective

One of the advantages of registering my .eu domain name with indom.fr is that I receive a very good newsletter called "DomainesInfo"on domain names and internet governance from a French perspective. Today's lead story, for instance, is "A quoi sert l'ombudsman de l'ICANN ?" or What's the Point of an Ombudsman for ICANN by Stéphane Van Gelder. Setting out his stall Monsieur VG asserts
"The Anglo Saxons have a mediation culture. In business they have set up an official to carry out such function. The ombudsman is the mediator whose job is to try to defuse potential crises. But does ICANN really have a need for such an official."
All good stuff for folk like me for whom Neoconservativism is only slightly less objectionable than Fascism or Stalinism who think that Servan-Schreiber had a point though I am not really sure that I appreciate the argument. There is an English page on the website but not everything seems to get translated.

Also on …

Patents: More Macrossan Fallout

Patent Office hearing officers have added three new decisions to the ones I mentioned in "Patents: The Macrossan Aftermath" on 15 Feb 2007. All dismissals, I'm afraid.

In NEC Corporation's Application Mr Bartlett found on 16 Feb 2007 that the technical contribution of a system for processing email according to content and source for mobile phones consisted entirely of excluded matter and was thus unpatentable.

Mr Marchant came to a similar conclusion in Start-Global Limited which concerned a computer based project management system for use in civil engineering construction projects on 22 Feb 2007.

We don't yet have a transcript to Mr Barford's decision in Arbitron Inc of 21 Feb 2007 but the case summary indicates that the invention determined the popularity of websites, broadcasting channels etc according to such criteria as audience demographics. Surprise, surprise. All excluded matter.

Bearing in mind that our economy is now services based and that manufacturi…

Security for Costs: Hart Investments Ltd v Larchpark Ltd. and Another

In England and Wales and a number of other countries costs (that is to say, lawyers' fees and expenses) follow the event. Another way of putting it is that the loser pays. Not every country in the world has such a rule. In the USA, for instance, it is the exception rather than the rule for a court to order an unsuccessful party to pay the successful party's costs though jurisdiction to make such an order does exist under a number of statutes and juries are said to take legal fees into account when awarding damages. But in England the loser pays and we are unlikely to change that rule anytime soon because it works to the advantage of the state and other big and powerful interests. I think the rule is very unfair but then that may be because I advise a lot of little chaps from places like Oswaldtwistle and Heckmondwike who as often as not have borrowed up to the hilt and mortgaged their grannies to float their software houses, design studios or other businesses.

Anyway, when you …

Confidential Information and Restraint of Trade: Thomas v Farr Plc - Ocular Sciences to join Series 5?

Nearly 10 years ago I wrote a case note on Ocular Sciences v Aspect Vision Care [1997] RPC 289 entitled "Have Faccenda's Chickens had their Chips?" I chose that title because the CA had appeared to draw a distinction in Faccenda Chickens v Fowler [1984] ICR 589 between "trade secrets" the disclosure or use of which could be restrained without a restrictive covenant and other confidential information that could not. Drawing the line between the two was never very satisfactory and in Ocular Sciences Sir Hugh seemed to offer a better test.

He started from the premises that an employee is entitled to deploy his skill and expertise for any employer though an employer may restrain unauthorized use or disclosure of his confidential information like anyone else. He acknowledged that it is public policy that an employee should use and put at the disposal of new employers all his acquired skill and knowledge no matter where he acquired it or whether it was secret at t…

400th Post: US SAFE Port Act

Not for the first time I am indebted to mydistinguished colleague Toni Tease of Billings, Montana for providing material for a post. Toni publishes an excellent monthly newsletter on IP called Intellections. This month's issue discusses The Security and Accountability For Every Port Act (SAFE Port Act). Interestingly her article is entitled "Montana's Senator Baucus Supports Allocating Resources for Increased Intellectual Property Protection." Nice to have a local politician interested in IP. I get the impression that my MP couldn't care less, I can't even get Auntie Kali to answer an invitation to address the Huddersfield Inventors Club.

Getting back to the point, SAFE provides US Customs with sufficient resources to protect IPR at the borders. Toni's Senator would have gone even further by establishing an Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Division within the customs service. That division would have collaborated with overseas governments…

IP Clinics: Huddersfield and Bradford 15 Feb 2007

We had a really good day in Huddersfield and Bradford last Thursday. Particularly in Huddersfield. All the inventors we saw there were young. Two were from the University. We obviously can't identify those ideas or inventions were but they ranged from household gadgets to some very wizzy electronics. Can't be much wrong with a country that generates all that, I thought, despite all the disincentives to innovation our political masters have imposed over the last 9 years and 10 months.

IP clinics take place in Huddersfield and Bradford on the third Thursday of every February, April, June and October. They consist of a patent librarian to do the searches, a patent agent, a business advisor and me. I am also available in Bradford every third Thursday between 15:00 and 17:00 and Huddersfield every last Friday between 11:00 and 13:00.

If you want to book an appointment call Jacquie Asquith in Huddersfield on +44 (01484) 483080 and Shabana Kauser in Bradford on +44 (01274) 841300.

Patents: The Macrossan Aftermath

Not long after the Court of Appeal's decision in Aerotel Ltd. v Telco Holdings Ltd and Others (Macrossan) [2005] EWCA Civ 1371 (27 Oct 2006) the Patent Office published a practice notice on patentable subject matter which replaced a whole series of previous notices on the topic going back to 1999 and modified others on games and business method patents.

Paragraph 5 of that notice propounded the 4 step test that the the Court had approved in Macrossan: (1) properly construe the claim, (2) identify the actual contribution, (3) ask whether it falls solely within the excluded subject matter and (4) check whether the actual or alleged contribution is actually technical in nature.

Since the Court of Appeal's decision and subsequent practice notice there has been a wealth of excluded matter hearings in the Patent Office in which that test has been applied:
11 Dec 2006 John Lahiri Khan
11 Dec 2006 Rockwell Firstpoint Contact
29 Dec 2006 Nintendo
8 Jan 2007 Consolidated Global Fun Unlimited…

China: Happy New Year - see you in Chongqing

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The reason everything is in red and gold is that today is the Chinese New Year and those are the colours for celebration. I should like to wish all my readers - especially those from China - a very happy New Year.

As I have mentioned several times my chambers are very interested in China and we have recently published our Mandarin brochure. That brochure was put together by Wei Huang who represents us in that increasingly important market.
Wei and her husband Ron Jones have put together a really good workshop on Chinese IP law in Chongqing in south west China between 10 and 18 Nov 2007. The Workshop will take place at the Chongqing Marriott Hotel and speakers include academics from Southwestern University Law School, local IP professionals and a judge of the local patents court. The event is hosted by the Chongqing Municipal Intellectual Property Bureau.
The workshop is intended to give UK and European patent agents and lawyers a deeper understanding of how to collaborate with Chinese …

Liverpool Inventors' Club: News

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Jeremy Phillips in Liverpool, 6 Feb 2007 The photograph above was taken just before Jeremy's talk on Five Live Issues in Intellectual Property Law to IPCEX and the Liverpool Inventors' Club on 6 Feb 2007. Jeremy needs no introduction. The lady to my right is Ruth Grodner, Patent Librarian of Liverpool Central Library who runs the Liverpool Inventors' Club and the man to the left of Jeremy is Michael Sandys of Kirwans, the solicitors who hosted the event.Dates for your Diary. Kirwans' marketing manager has very kindly found some more speakers. The provisional programme is as follows:26 Feb John Lambert “Crane, Paper, Scissors, Stone” (Planning for IPR enforcement)26 Mar Eden Bio-Design CEO, Dr Crawford Brown [either March or May TBC]30 Apr Andrew Moss DSG Accountants Financial monitoring and research and development21 May Eden Bio-Design CEO, Dr Crawford Brown [either March or May TBC]25 Jun – Michael Sandys and Michelle Stewart or Catherine Lo [topic to be announced]All…

Reciprocal Protection: New Statutory Instruments

Three newOrders in Council weremade on 14 Feb 2007 adding to the list of countries for whose citizens and residents copyright and performers' right protection is extended and updating the list of "convention countries" for the purposes of the Patents Act 1977 and Registered Designs Act 1949.

The Copyright and Performances (Application to Other Countries) Order 2007(SI 2007 No 273) revokes The Copyright and Performances (Application to Other Countries) Order 2006 with effect from 6 Apr 2007. The only material difference between this order and the previous one appears to be that copyright protection now extends to nationals and residents of Samoa which is very interesting given that the Supreme Court of Western Samoa held that there was no such thing as copyright in that country in Fauolo v Gray[1997] WSSC 1; CP 364 1995 as recently as 5 Aug 1997 (see also my case note on that decision which I published nearly 9 years ago). Clearly the Samoan legislature acted promptly on t…

Patents: US Filing Data

Dennis Crouch has published an excellent article on American patent applications data in Patently-O. Dennis has analysed 10,000 of the most recent patents "to see what's going on with pendency and other issues." He found the average time from filing to grant in the case of applications that were not based on a previous US filing to have been 3 years and 4 months and the average time from filing to grant in the case of applications based on a prior US filing to have been 2 years and 11 months. Applications based on foreign filings seemed to take the same amount of time regardless whether they were based on a previous filing or not.

It is interesting to compare the US Patent and Trademark Office's performance with that of our own. Some comparable data is available from "Facts and Figures 2004-2005" and some performance data can be checked from the Patent Office's Annual Report and Accounts for 2005 and 2006. Judging by the table on page 58 of the Annual Re…

Patents: Novartis Litigation in India

A report by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen in today's Intellectual Property Watch on Novartis's challenge to Indian patent legislation on the ground that it doers not comply with TRIPs is reminiscent of the challenge by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa to South Africa's compulsory licensing laws. That challenge was abandoned at the door of the court as a result of co-ordinated political pressure around the world and there are signs of similar pressure building up on Novartis.

Significantly, much of that pressure is coming from South Africa. A press release of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ""People, not profits, must be at the centre of patent law for medicines." Although the case revolves around a cancer drug it does have a bearing on aids in that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with no pharmaceutical industry of their own rely on imports of generic drugs from India and that these would be at risk were t…

Arbitration: Sumukan Ltd v Commonwealth Secretariat

This was a website dispute but somewhat bigger than the sort of dispute that I find myself instructed to resolve. The client was the government of Namibia and the consultant was commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat to develop was an online group purchasing scheme to help manufacturers in sourcing the materials they needed. Because the Commonwealth Secretariat was an intergovernmental agency immune from suit the contract provided for disputes to be determined by arbitration before the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal.

In April 2003 the consultant brought proceedings against the Secretariat before the tribunal which included the issue of who owned the website. After a 3 day hearing the tribunal decided that the site belonged to the Secretariat. The consultant appealed and after one application on the substantive law failed on the ground that the court's jurisdiction was excluded by the tribunal's constitution, it applied to set aside the award on grounds of lac…

Introducing Toni Wilson

Hi! I thought I should introduce myself. Clients of nipc already know me. I manage chambers. Other chambers have clerks. We have a chambers manager and I am she. I'm the one who sends out horrible fee notes and appalling "A" and "B" Letters when you haven't squeezed quite enough interest out of your premium clients' accounts. Unlike one or two of the more traditional clerks clerks, I don't have a cockney accent, I don't go drinking in the Cock, Dev or Witness Box, I am nearly always at the end of the phone between 12 and 3 pm and above all I am legally qualified so I know what a piece of work is really worth and don't agree silly fees.

So what am I going to write about? Well, although I shall be keeping an eye on such sites as BAILII, DeCaff, OPSI and the Patent Office (while it still exists) and possibly even mentioning the odd new case or piece of legislation if there is nobody else to do it, I shall be concentrating more on the practical s…

Huddersfield Intellectual Property Clinic: 15 Feb 2006 Change of Venue

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First the good news. The Huddersfield Business Generator IP clinic between 11:00 and 13:00 on Thursday, 15 Feb 2007 will take place at the super, duper Brunswick Building on the University Campus off Queensway and NOT in my dungeon in the Media Centre. Parking is available at the Kingsgate multistorey across the road which is very convenient if you want to spend your anticipated royalties as you will be hard pressed to find a better shopping centre between Leeds and Manchester.


Now for the even better news! The business advisor will be none other than business mentor superstar and promising educational film mogul Mr John Edmonds. John has a brilliant business career across two continents and today is his birthday. Happy BirthdayJohn! John's latest project is "TimeTrappers" an educational video company and you can find some of his work on Dabble, YouTube and goodness knows where else. John is actually making a video for me on IP with an all star cast of Yorkshire movers an…

Manchester Patent Library: Patent Search and Market Research Workshops

If I had a pound forevery time a client tells me that he has a world shattering invention "which will solve the energy crisis and assure world peace" I would not need to practise law. When I or someone else asks whether he has done a search the usual reply is "Oh, I never thought of that. How do you do that lad?"

Well now the wonderful Chris Brown of Manchester Patent Library will show all you budding Dysons and Baylises how. She offers two free workshops - one on patent searching and the other on market research and business information. And it won't cost you a bean. If this opportunity were in Yorkshire or indeed Scotland there would be a queue a mile long by now.

For more info call Chris Brown, Information Officer Intellectual Property Libraries and Theatres department, Manchester PATLIB Central Library, St. Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD Tel/ Fax: 0161 234 1397 E-mail: C.Brown1@manchester.gov.uk.

Patents: US House of Representatives votes for Specialist Judges Pilot Scheme

According to IP Search 360 the lower house of the US federal legislature has approved a bill which would appear to provide a pilot scheme for the allocation of patent cases in the federal District Courts to specialist patent judges (HR 34).

The USA is divided into a number of districts each of which covers a state or part of a state which hears cases that fall within the federal as opposed to the state jurisdiction. The judges of those courts are known as "district judges" but their jurisdiction and prestige are closer to the jurisdiction and prestige of a High Court judge in England. Appeal lies to Circuit or regional appeal courts whose judges are known as "circuit judges" even though they are comparable to Lord Justices of our Court of Appeal.

Many patent cases are already heard by the US Court of Federal Claims (a court with jurisdiction over claims against the federal government which includes the US Patent and Trademark Office) and appeal lies to a special ap…

Patents: Macrossan v Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks

The House of Lordshas refused permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal's decision in Macrossan which was heard with Aerotel Ltd. v Telco Holdings Ltdand Others[2006] EWCA Civ 1371 on 27 Oct 2006. Mr Simon Hart, a Queensland solicitor who has already contributed to this blog on this litigation, has drawn my attention to a new website at http://www.ukcorporator.co.uk/patentappeal.php that contains all the transcripts from the hearing officer upwards as well as some interesting commentary. I will be returning to this topic when time allows.

Internet: So now we know why it was playng up last week

I am indebted to Baker & McKenzie's Premium Global E-Law Alert notification for the news that at least 5 of 13 root servers upon which the the internet depends suffered a distributed denial of service attack early on Tuesday morning. A RIPE press release congratulated itself that the attack "passed largely unnoticed by the average computer user". Not unnoticed by my wife, I am afraid, but then she is far from your average computer user.

For those who are interested in that sort of thing, "root name servers" help to translate mnemonic addresses to numerical codes. If you really want to know more there is a guide written specially for law graduates.

IPCEX and Liverpool Inventors Club: Jeremy Phillips's Slides Available for Download

I haveuploaded Jeremy Phillips's presentation "Five Live Issues in Intellectual Property Law" on to the IPCEX and Liverpool Inventors' Club websites.

I have also announced the next meeting of the Liverpool Inventors Club which will be a talk by me on how to plan for IPR enforcement. It is entitled "Crane, Paper, Scissors, Stone". That will take place at the Central Library in William George Street at 17:00 on 26 Feb 2007.

I have also given advance notice of the next IPCEX meeting which will be on protecting IPR in India on 18 Sep 2007. It will be very similar to the very successful seminar on protecting IPR in China last year. So far we have one good speaker, Ms Mallika Nair of Kirwans. Mallika learned her law in India and is well placed to advise UK firms that wish to invest in or sell to India.

We're now in Bradford as well as Huddersfield

nipc(R) can now hold conferences and accept instructions at Velocity Bradford as well as the Huddersfield Media Centre. The full postal address is
Velocity Business & Innovation Centre Angel Way Listerhills Bradford D7 1BX If you need a map, click here. Continue to call us on our telephone +44 (0)870 990 5081 faxon+44 (0)870 880 5082.

Leeds Inventors Club: Nic Morton 21 Feb 2007

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Funding Explained

Nic Morton, who has recently taken over as manager of West Yorkshire Ventures from Anne Salisbury, will address the Leeds Inventors Club on Wed, 21 Feb 2007 at Leeds Central Library at 18:00. Admission is free but call Ged or Stef on 0113 247 8266 or email piu@leeds.gov.uk to make sure of your place. West Yorkshire Ventures supports new business ideas in West Yorkshire which have the potential to grow rapidly into sustainable high-growth businesses. Also, I shall give the talk "Crane, Scissors, Paper, Stone" that I gave to the Leeds Inventors Club last month to the Liverpool Inventors Club at 17:00 on 26 Feb 2007 at Liverpool Central Library. Call Ruth Grodner on 0151 233 5834 to book your place.

Patents: US Supreme Court permits Licensees to challenge Licensors' Patents

Although the doctrine has been queried recently on the ground of incompatibility with EC and national competition law, it has been settled since Crossley v Dixon 10 HLC 293 that a licensee cannot impeach the title of his of her licensor. That rule has been swept away in the USA by the US Supreme Court's judgment in Medimmune Inc v Genetech Inc. (9 Jan 2007). Toni Tease of Billings, Montana, who runs a very similar practice to ours and is tantamount to a fifth member of chambers, has written a very interesting case note on that decision in her monthly newsletter "Intellections".

Patent Clinics: Huddersfield and Bradford 15 Feb 2007

nipc will be holding patent clinics at

The Huddersfield Media Centrebetween 11:00and13:00 andVelocity Bradfordbetween 15:00and 17:00on Thursday 15 Feb 2007 in conjunction with Huddersfield Business Generatorand Bmedia. Attending the clinic will be Vivian Irish of Branded!, Stef Stephenson of Leeds Patent Library, Jane Hurn of Business Link West Yorkshire in Bradford and one of the HBG mentors in Huddersfield and yours truly. The sessions are free and since patent agents and the other professionals usually charge a shed load of money for their advice, these services are quite a bargain. However you must book. For Huddersfield call the delightful Jacquie Asquith on: +44 (0) 1484 483080 or +44 (0)870 990 5000 and ask for the Business Generator or email her on j.asquith@huddersfieldbg.co.uk. For Bradford call the charming Amanda Lennon on +44 (0) 870 1222601 Email: info@velocitybradford.com. If you get to Bradford you may want to stay for the Third Thursday talk at Bmedi@ which is wo…

Copyright and Confidential Information: Cembrit Blunn Ltd v Apex Roofing Services LLP

This case began life as a copyright and breach of confidence claim but it was clearly overshadowed by the question whether the complainant's roof slates were of satisfactory quality. Nearly all the facts and much of the legal analysis of this very long judgment was on the sale of goods issue.

The letter that was the subject of the copyright claim was an internal letter written by the executive vice-president of her second claimant to the managing director and sales and marketing director of the first claimant about possible settlement of a claim which had been threatened by the defendant against the first claimant in relation to some slates that had been installed. The letter had come into the hands of the defendant company which circulated it. The claimants sought injunctions to restrain publication and orders to reveal the source of the disclosure. The defendant counterclaimed for breach of contract alleging that the claimant's slates were not of satisfactory quality.

Giving j…

Technology Policy: Royal Society Debate 15 Jan 2007

A report of a debate that I wish I could have attended has just appeared on the BCS website. It is headed "What are the right things to do to sustain UK competitiveness in 2025?" It ties in well with a couple of recent articles on this blog - namely the UK's depressing performance in patenting and provincialism.

The debate took place at the Royal Society on the 15 Jan 2007 and appears to have centred quite rightly around the premise that "competitive advantage is increasingly enabled by IT and the use of intellectual assets." The report states that John Leighfield of Research Machines and David Butler focused on "How can we build on the existing driving forces to achieve sustainable IT enabled competitiveness in the UK economy?" and "What must policy makers, industry leaders and the professions do to address the restraining forces?" It seems to have been a very metropolitan debate. Mr Leighfield is described the City of London as a "shi…

Patents: BlackBerry Appeal Dismissed

One of Alex Weston's slides in her presentation to Venturefestlisted BlackBerry and Viagra as things that had been patented. "But haven't some of those patents been revoked?" I blurted out very rudely. "Yes" she agreed and carried on with her presentation. But the very day that Alex gave her talk the Court of Appeal gave judgment in Research In Motion UK Ltd v Inpro Licensing SARL[2007] EWCACiv 51 (7 Feb 2007).

As Lord Justice Jacob remarked at paragraph [3], it was not suggested that any important or even novel issue of law was raised by the appeal. The appeal was on obviousness and the law was set out clearly enough by the House of Lords in Biogen v Medeva[1997] RPC 1. The submission was that Mr Justice Pumfrey had misapplied or failed to apply settled principles at first instance. After considering all the prior art relied upon, the Court concluded that he had.

The only other point to note is procedural. Mr Justice Pumfrey had expressed the view that Mr Ju…

Patent Applications - Britain slips further down the League

In Press Release PR/476/200 the WIPO has reported a record year for patent filings: a 6.4% growth over the figure for 2005. Many countries did much better than that - China's growth was 56.8%, Korea's 26.6% and Italy's 16.1%. The USA was average with 6.1%. And the UK with such a "strong economy" as Tony Blair MP reminded us in Parliament yet again the day the figures were published. Well, um, er a 0.8% decline actually.

Britain now stands 6th in the PCT table with 5,045 applications - well behind the USA (49.555), Japan (26.906), Germany (16,929), Korea (5,935) and France (5,902). Not a single British company is in the top 50 PCT applicants. There is a Chinese company in the top 50 - Huawei with 575 applications - not to mention several Koreans, French, Scandinavians and a whole slew of Germans, Japanese and Americans. And we have an economy - some would have us believe - that is strong enough to quit the EU.

The government can't be happy with that performance…

Venturefest Yorkshire 2007

Venturefest Yorkshire at York race course is an annual festival of Yorkshire business, Yorkshire education and general Yorkshire worthiness. There are exhibitions, talks, competitions and all sorts of opportunities for networking. Exhibitors include schools, colleges and individuals with bright ideas as well as businesses and professional services firms. A flavour of what goes on can be gained from the videos on the Venturefest website. I know of nothing quite like it elsewhere in the North. BEX (Business Enterprise Exchange) in Manchester has the same sort of idea but nothing like the same dort of buzz.

This year's event seemed to be as big as ever. Bigger, in fact, judging by the traffic that clogged the roads leading to the race course from the A64 to the extent that I missed the breakfast meeting for which I had paid £11.75. That, together with a slow moving, mile long queue snaking round the canteen put me in a vile mood until I met the delightful Amanda Lennon of Velocity Br…

Purr

Jeremy Phillips's presentation to IPCEX and Liverpool Inventors Club this evening was excellent. The audience filled the magnificent board room of the Martin's Building, one of Herbert Rowse's masterpieces. It was a pretty good cross-section of Merseyside - lawyers, patent agents, inventors, festival directors - all sorts.

Removing his jacket, loosening his tie and taking off his shoes, Jeremy asked for a show of hands of lawyers, then a show of hands for business people, then a show of hands of creators of intellectual property. Save for one or two inventors everyone was quiet. Then we all put up our hands in spontaneous recognition that we are all intellectual property creators. Maybe not very valuable IP. But IP just the same.

The title of the talk was "Five Live Issues in Intellectual Property". These are 5 issues that currently interest Jeremy. They were "Comparative Advertising", "Enforcement", "Summary Judgment" (or throwing out…

Porridge for Patent Infringement: At least Someone has some Sense

The very first post of this blog protested against the revived proposal of the European Commission to impose criminal liability for "all intentional infringements of an intellectual property right on a commercial scale" including patent infringements. I have returned to this subject more than once over the 18 months or so that this blog has been on the internet.

There is no obligation to impose criminal liability for patent infringement under art 61 of TRIPs or indeed any other convention. The proposal has already been thrown out once. Our government doesn't want it. Neither do most of the member states. Industry doesn't want it. The profession (or at least my branch of it) doesn't want it. The courts don't want it. Indeed, when I discussed the proposal with the Great Man yesterday, not even Miles Rees of the Patent Office could think of anybody who was for it.

Hallelujah! Our Euro-parliamentarians seem to have shown some sense. In its draft report on
o…

IP Awareness Day: Nether Alderley

Today I attended the Patent Offices's first IP Awareness seminar at Alderley Park, Astra Zeneca's campus just in Cheshire. I say "campus" because it resembles a whitebrick university like Warwick, Stirling or Lancaster. Like many of those seats of learning there is a stately pile at the heart of the complex. It was there that the seminar took place.

The seminar consisted of formal presentations by our hosts, Business Link, the Patent Office, CIPA, ITMA and others. There were opportunities for networking and one-to-one conferences with patent agents after lunch. The session was chaired by Miles Rees of the Patent Office who seems to have forgiven my mickey taking last year. Indeed, he very kindly gave me the "Counter Offensive" IP crime strategy pack.

Several of my old friends were there including Bill Downey of Wilson Gunn, Romemary Barker of Harrison Goodard Foote, Sally Cooper and Chris Browne of Manchester Central Library. I also met some very interesti…

Preparing for the Coming Chinese Century

There is an organization in the USA quaintly called the "Project for the New American Century". According to its website it is

"dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle."
I surmise that that organization chose its name in the expectation (or, more likely, hope) that the USA will prolong the economic, scientific and military preeminence that it has enjoyed since the end of the 19th century into the next century. Well, maybe. But my money is on the next century being Chinese rather than American.

China whose GDP is already estimated to be 75% that of the USA when adjusted for purchasing power parity and whose nominal GDP is growing at a breakneck rate. Increasingly, it will be Beijing rather than Washington that calls the shots on trade and international security. As for science and technology…

Patents: Voda v Cordis - US Courts decline Jurisdiction over Foreign Patents

I have to say that I am rather disappointed by the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Voda v Cordis Corp. (USCA Fed. Circuit 1 Feb 2007). It is ironic that while the US federal government sends its soldiers where they are not wanted, its courts appear to be singularly reluctant to entertain actions even between Americans over foreign intellectual property rights.

In Voda the Court of Appeals allowed an appeal by the defendant against the District Court's decision to permit the plaintiff (claimant) to amend his claim to allege infringement of his foreign as well as US patents (see Voda v. Cordis Corp., No. 03-1512, slip op. at 2 (W.D. Okla. Aug. 2, 2004). The decision was not unanimous. There was a powerful dissenting judgment by Circuit Judge Newman. But the majority took the view that there was no jurisdiction to entertain such litigation and, even if there was, the court should not exercise it.

This decision contrasts with the stance of our own Court of…