Sole and Small IP practitioners to meet again
Shireen Smith has asked the IPKat to announce that there will be a meeting for sole and small IP practitioners at the Old Bank of England, 194 Fleet Street, London EC4 on 7 June, from 6pm onwards. The cost will be £10 at the door which, Shireen says, will give you a lovely buffet meal. Says Shireen, "we will have some rooms to ourselves at the back of the pub, on the ground floor". Further details of speakers and other attractions will be given shortly.
Left: members of the Sole and Small IP Practitioners Group at their inaugural gathering in February.
If you're planning to attend, please contact Shireen by email or give her a tinkle on the telephone (020 7700 1414). If there's anything you want to discuss at the Meeting, tell Shireen so that everyone can be given time to think about it first. Venue details here.
Beachcroft calls for threats law to be scrapped
British law firm Beachcroft (formerly known as Beachcroft Wansbroughs) is warning businesses that they could face unexpected legal proceedings when they assert their trade marks or design rights. In a report released by the Law Society, Beachcroft partner Robin Fry maintains that the existing rules against the making of ‘groundless threats’ mean that businesses are forced to initiate legal proceedings without attempting any form of mediation first. The Society calls for the existing regime to be abolished. Says Fry:
"It would be fair to write to anyone infringing your registered rights. But the archaic ‘groundless threats’ provisions mean that this can immediately trigger a claim against you. Even saying ‘We need to talk’ is simply too dangerous".The report observes that the structures of the threats provisions mean that solicitors are often forced to write letters before action referring only to copyright or passing-off (for which no liability for a groundless threat may be incurred), knowing full well that, when proceedings are instituted, the claim will be principally based on design or trade mark infringement.
The IPKat notes that groundless threats actions are frequently brought against the firm of solicitors that acts for the aggrieved IP owner. Perhaps this is one reason why the most articulate calls for scrapping of the threats action come from solicitors themselves. Merpel adds, it's a trade-off, isn't it, between protecting the IP owner, protecting the innocent trader and protecting the public at large: does the possibility of being sued for making a groundless threat deter patent trolls? It's difficult to say.
Abstracts of two recent articles on threats here and here