1 Daniel Alexander: don't knock the ECJ

A rapt audience of practitioners, postgraduates and professional cynics listened to Daniel Alexander QC's surprisingly sympathetic appraisal of the operation of the European Court of Justice's roles in fielding Community trade mark appeals and processing references for preliminary IP rulings from national courts. Speaking at Queen Mary's Dean Rees House, his main point was that the fact that ECJ/CFI procedures were different to those we know and love in the UK doesn't actually mean there's anything wrong with them. Alexander (right) went to particular lengths to defend the tendency of Advocates General to produce Opinions replete with cultural tours d'horizon rather than just focus on the law; he also painted a kindly picture of the paper-based submissions and minimal hearings that precede the Court's rulings.

The meeting concluded with seconds and thirds of wine, but the discussions continued long beyond the point the meeting ended. The IPKat always enjoys these little events: they cloak the law's grand abstractions with a gentle coating of reality. Merpel says, come off it - and forget your intellectual pretensions: you're only there for the wine!

If you'd like to be kept informed of future Queen Mary IP lectures, seminars and meetings, they are usually posted in advance here.

2 Sole IP practitioner? Looking for company?

One of the odd topics that emerged in the social aftermath of Daniel Alexander's talk (above) was that of the position of the sole intellectual property practitioner. Some lawyers are determined to work on their own, for the sake of flexibility, personal satisfaction or lifestyle. Others go solo, tempted by the prospect of servicing the IP needs of a specific client. Some, formerly working in-house with a large company, are "outsourced". Others again have no option, having left larger practices through no fault (or choice) of their own. What they all have in common is the need to juggle limited personal resources when working under pressure and to focus on detailed work while also picking up new and potentially significant developments as they break across the horizon.

It occurred to the IPKat that it might be quite fun to organise a brief meeting early one evening at which sole IP practitioners (and perhaps also members of micro-practices even if they work with others) could get together to discuss the problems they face and they ways they seek to solve them. If nothing else, it might improve the lot of their clients ... Perhaps 5 till 7 at a convenient hostelry, for people to drop in, say hello and do a little light networking. If you're interested, email the IPKat here: if he gets 10 takers or more, he'll organise it.

3 Keeping an eye on two Worlds ...

With September nearly out, there's just time for the IPKat to mention this month's Patent World and Copyright World. These two titles, published by Informa, contain a selection of short, brightly written and topical pieces on their subjects, together with a selection of news items.

In Copyright World , Olswang's Sarah Wright (left) and Priya Vatvani (right) cheerfully ask whether the EU's sui generis database right is about to die, following the British Horseracing Board case. Regular copyright is apparently now off the sick-list on both sides of the Atlantic following the US Supreme Court decision in Grokster, according to Eugene Quinn (IPWahttp://www.ipwatchdog.comtchdog.com) and Simon Baggs (Wiggin, Cheltenham).

Patent World carries a review by Peter Ward (Bird & Bird) of life after the failure of the European Union to sort out the software patent directive, as well as a thoughtful article by Jinseok Park (KIPO) on claim strategies in the light of the fact that criteria of patentability, though often similar in different countries, are only imperfectly harmonised.


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