Regular readers of this weblog will be well acquainted with the saga of Michael Burchill, who was first sued by Marine Rescue Technologies Inc for various alleged intellectual property infringements nearly six years ago - in September 2001 - in an action which has never progressed beyond its earliest stages. Indeed, no trial date has ever been fixed (for the pre-history of this judgment see IPKat postings here, here, here, here and here). Well, at 10.30am this morning Mr Justice Warren, in the Patents Court, gave judgment in what might be the final word in this embarassing saga. To cut a long story short, this February Marine's action was (or may have been) struck out after years of going nowhere and today the judge refused Marine's application to reinstate it.
In his judgment, which is available in full here on BAILII's excellent service, the judge alluded discreetly to the IPKat's constant agitation concerning the woeful delays that have beset this case - but if the Kat's comments stirred his soul, they did not impinge upon the objectivity of his reasoning. He said (at para.25):
"I note that Mr Burchill submits that the present case has been a matter of controversy in the press and is being widely used as an example of the delays still possible: there is a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice will be shaken. I do not take any account of what has appeared in the press which seems to me to be irrelevant. The interests of justice require, of course, that there should be public confidence in the administration of justice. I do not need any persuading that serious and contumelious delays, if left without the imposition of sanction, might undermine that confidence. But this is not a case where the delays, taken in the context of the actual conduct of the case, are so long as to lead to only one result, namely to leave the matter struck out. The delay is, however, a factor which I take into account".The IPKat is pleased that this unhappy saga is now proceeding towards its conclusion and feels that, for anyone interested in sharpening their skills as an IP litigator in England and Wales, this case offers some very good guidance on how not to do it. Merpel adds, let's not forget the impact of slow and attritional litigation on the health of the litigants - that too is a factor that the courts will consider when striking an action out or refusing to reinstate it.
Great Marine technology disasters here and here
Following his recent request for information concerning the establishment of the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP) in the UK, the IPKat has received this very helpful response from Nadia Vally, Head of Secretariat, Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property:
"I can confirm that SABIP is due to be established by the end of the year. It will be made up of a Chair and up to 9 members. The recruitment campaign for the Chair and Members will be launched on 2 September at which time adverts will appear in the Sunday Times and on the Cabinet Office and UK-IPO websites. For further details about SABIP and applying to become a member, you may wish to visit the website at www.ipo.gov.uk/SABIP".The SABIP webpage adds:
"Covering the full range of IP rights, SABIP’s remit is to provide a strategic overview of IP policy, challenge government policy-making, and advise on the UK’s stance in international negotiations. SABIP will provide advice to Ministers and the UK-IPO’s Chief Executive. In addition it will draw on its research fund to commission strategic research and policy papers".