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Friday, 24 June 2005

JOURNALIST PROVES THAT PATENTS AREN'T BORING


One of the IPKat's dearest friends has sent him this link to a delightful article in The Guardian on the resignation of Mr Justice Laddie (blogged by the IPKat earlier this week). It was written by a journalist who took himself down to the Patents Court to see for himself whether judging patent cases was truly boring or not. In the case, one of the last to be heard by Laddie J before he "retires" to his new consultancy, Hewlett-Packard charged Expansys with buying its products in the Far East and shipping them back for sale at higher, European-level prices in the UK, infringing its patent rights in the process. Here's an extract:

The atmosphere is very chummy. Mr Mellor [counsel for Hewlett-Packard] made his statement with a smile playing on his lips. There was lots of banter. "I'm afraid I didn't have time to read all your submissions relating to anti-trust issues," said the judge. "Very sensible", said Mr Mellor. Polite laughter from the other 15 - yes, 15 - barristers, lawyers and judicial box-carriers in court.

James Mellor, demonstrating his 'Mona Lisa' smile

The defence was in the hands of Mr Roughton, a more upper-crust sort of chap and clearly a favourite of Mr Justice Laddie. "It's always a pleasure to have you in court because you are such a gentleman," he told the barrister, "so I don't like to be brutal ..." But he was: he told Mr Roughton, in effect, that the point he was making about H-P consenting to the resale of its goods was nonsense.

Ashley Roughton: "a pleasure in court" - but a target for nautical metaphors

"I accept that the boat that I am putting out doesn't go very far," said Mr Roughton. "Mr Mellor seems to think that it sank in the dock before you even untied the ropes," said the judge. The nautical metaphor was continued for a good five minutes, to appreciative grins all round. This was proving quite good fun, and not boring at all.

The IPKat knew all along that the Patents Court wasn't boring. Merpel says, "But who will replace Sir Hugh Laddie in the Patents Court?" Some smart wags are suggesting that, in view of the unwillingness/unsuitability of so many patent silks to ascend to the Bench, it's time to appoint a senior IP solicitor. Wouldn't it be delicious if that appointee were someone of intelligence, wit and integrity, highly respected by all branches of the IP professions ... Tony Willoughby, in fact.

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