Tuesday, 24 September 2013

"Hot topics" conference

IP is always a hot topic - so it must be the white hot stuff that's on the programme of Lexis Nexis's conference on 22 October, in London (venue "to be advised": shall I check if the Jarvis Suite is available? Perhaps a bit late). Looking at the Agenda for the day, there's certainly some very hot stuff there, even if "Recent developments in ..." as the title for a session (or three) is a bit of a cop-out. But who knows what might be hot in a month's time?

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I am not impressed by the hyper-inflation that has affected the intellectual property world of late: indeed, it will not have escaped the attention of diligent readers that I am not enamoured of the expression "intellectual property", which tends to obscure the variety of different legal rights that make up this rich and fascinating area of law. I have the good fortune to have entered the profession at a time when one could still be an intellectual property generalist, and for a generalist this review of the hot topics will be invaluable. There are plenty of us generalists still around, and if the IP departments of larger firms have salami-sliced the subject into narrow specialisations there are still plenty of in-house lawyers and small and solo practitioners who will be attracted by an authoritative update on what's hot in the IP world.

Authoritative they certainly are ... For example, Martin Howe QC will be answering the question, "are image rights now protectable in English law?" (at least, that's the title of his session - whether he ventures an answer or not remains to be seen). As leading counsel for Rhianna, he is well placed to judge whether the law of passing off is doing a good job in this area or whether, following the example of Guernsey, we should clutter up the landscape with a new mini-IP right. Later in the day Guy Burkill QC - 'unbelievably clever, extremely funny and technically superb' (per his chambers' website, a description which must make him the favourite of every IP conference organiser wondering what to do with the graveyard slot after lunch) - will talk about the phone wars, in which he has served with some distinction, and that frequently-encountered oxymoron, software patents (actually the programme says "patentability of computer programs", but I claim poetic licence). "IP litigation in the wake of the Jackson reforms" will also be a very interesting topic (I single it out as not being "recent developments in ..." session), presented by Duncan Ribbons, a partner in Redd Solicitors LLP, the only IP boutique I know of to have appeared in the law reports as a claimant

Nowadays, prospective delegates often look first to see how many CPD hours they can score: and at this time of year, this is the first consideration for most solicitors. The answer is six - not bad at all. The price is not at all unreasonable, either, but to make it irresistible the organisers are generously offering members of the IPso Jure LinkedIn group a 20 per cent discount - to book email alicia.sprott@lexisnexis.co.uk and quote code IPL20. Will I see you there? Sadly no, but only because I have to be elsewhere that week - teaching some less hot IP topics to my students in Moscow.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Fast-track opposition procedure coming soon

The Trade Marks (Fast Track Opposition) (Amendment) Rules 2013 will come into operation on 1 October. While "primarily aimed at improving SMEs [sic] access to justice at  a cost proportionate to the complexity of the dispute at stake" (according to the Patent Office's propaganda sheet here) it will no doubt facilitate the sort of bullying-by-spurious-opposition that is often the bane of SMEs' [sic!] lives.

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