Friday, 5 June 2015

The New European Patent by Alfredo Ilardi

There is an endless stream of interesting intellectual property events in Oxford, to which I always intend to go. Unfortunately, even living a mere 20 miles away, getting into the city is far from simple. Those medieval town planners failed completely to make the place car-friendly, and the profusion of bicycles with particularly (on average) idiotic riders makes driving an unattractive option. There is a bus from the village, but not necessarily a bus back at a convenient time. The train from Didcot is a good choice, but the station is five miles away and parking often ludicrously expensive. So, to cut a long story short, I haven't been to more than a couple of IP events in Oxford in all the time I have lived here.

Receiving an invitation to a book launch, for Alfredo Ilardi's "The New European Patent", published by Hart, Oxford's smaller legal publisher, stiffened my resolve. Meeting the Hart people, especially the founder Richard Hart (a noted runner), was an attraction, and who knows who else might be there? Very few people, turned out to be the answer, and only one member of staff from the publisher, the founder being at another launch party. I learnt from her that the company is now part of Bloomsbury, still presumably spending the Harry Potter millions on acquisitions.

Alfredo Ilardi, former Head of the Collection of Laws and Treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization, has produced a worthy book. I take issue with its title, as its subject is not a new European patent but a new European Union patent, as the blurb makes clear:
"On 17 December 2012, following a complex negotiation which lasted 12 years, theEuropean Parliament adopted Regulations (EU) 1257/2012 and 1260/2012 and the text of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement). These instruments institute the ‘European patent with unitary effect’, the first unified system for the protection of inventions within the European Union. The two Regulations will be applicable after the entry into force of the UPC Agreement, which was signed on 19 February 2013 by 24 Member States of the European Union. This book traces the evolution of the idea behind the institution of the European patent with unitary effect, including a comparative analysis of the existing parallel regional and international procedures for the protection of inventions. It presents a synthesis of the different phases of the negotiations which led to the adoption of the first unitary patent system within the European Union. In addition it examines the provisions of the two Regulations, of the UPC Agreement and of the jurisdictional system under Brussels I Regulation. Finally, it reproduces in the Appendix the texts of Regulations (EU) 1257 and 1260/2012 and of the UPC Agreement."
But the subject-matter is important, whatever it might be called. A brief glance t the book, however, showed me that the author (as you might expect) takes a rather historical approach, so it might be a bit short on substance: not a practitioner's book, I suspect. And as if to demonstrate the difference between the practical and the academic, which I always tell students are more closely-related in the IP field than in other areas of law, the author extols the virtues of the Community trade mark system. I cannot refrain from responding. To my mind the CTM is an almost unmitigated disaster, a bully's charter, encouraging foreclosure and depletion to such an extent that new entrants are hard-pressed to find a mark to use and established businesses from outside the EU can find their established trade mark useless in the face of ludicrously wide registrations that can only be challenged for lack of good faith (for which read, cannot be challenged). If the Unitary patent turns out the same way, it will not be a Good Thing by any measure except that of the multinationals who will find it conducive to the arrogation of market power.

My brief perusal of the book also took in what I always check for in law books: how many pages are real book, and how many mere stuffing (legislation and the like)? At 164 pages (hardback) it's not unreasonably short, but more than half of it comprises appendices of one sort or another. It makes it very expensive, per page of text, especially nowadays when the legislation is freely available online and in any event is mostly not yet final and likely therefore to change. I may be doing it an injustice: I had only a brief look at the book, and if the UPC will be your stamping ground once you are allowed to stamp in it, this book will surely be essential reading. So too, and perhaps more practical, will be Hugh Dunlop's "European Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court", the second edition of which was pubished last year by CIPA and which is about one-third (90 pages) text and the rest appendices, probably the same ones as in the Hart book. Now I've got it down from the high shelf where it had rested since I received it, I'll have a look at it and write a review. That's easier when you have a copy of the book ...

Details of the Hart book: ISBN 9781849468336. RSP: £65 / US$130 / CDN$130.

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