"The best piece of intellectual property advice I ever heard" -- that was the challenge facing entrants in the most recent IPKat competition, for which the prize is complimentary admission to CLT's forthcoming Copying Without Infringing conference on Wednesday 26 November (details of the conference here). Many of the entrants being private practitioners, who prefer to sell their advice rather than give it away to readers of this blog, the IPKat received an unusually large proportion of entries that were either (i) anonymous or (ii) covered by a disclaimer in case anyone should seek to rely directly upon it. There were also a number of entries that the Kat had to disqualify for (i) not being over the 20-word limit or (ii) not being advice.
Disqualification for not being advice was the entry which the IPKat enjoyed the most. This was sent in by Andrew Evans, a commercial lawyer with the Environment Agency:
"Probably the best IP joke ... was from my lecturer Professor Amanda Harcourt, who taught me the copyright module on the Masters Degree in Music Management at Bucks College (now Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College). Surely worth a mention at least! Question--How long does it take to learn copyright law? Answer--Life plus 70 years!".Of those that remained, the best were as follows:
The best intellectual property advice I've heardPseudonymous entries
Can't you guess?
Seek professional help
And in the end pay less! (this was from an entrant who said he/she couldn't take up the prize anyway)
Killing the creator is the traditional method of patent protection (from a literary soul, citing Terry Pratchett as authority for this proposition)
Mr Minister, a well administered intellectual poverty system will be crucial for your country's future (this, the concluding remark by a senior official at a public event, was submitted by an entrant whose anonymity is probably crucial to his continued employment in one of intellectual property's more diplomatically exacting roles).
Don’t mess with IPR owners (from Nikki -- this entry wasn't marked as such and the IPKat thought at first that it was a personal threat)From named entrants
Two of the more serious pieces of advice related to confidentiality:
You can't protect an idea. Keep shtum until you can disclose it in confidence (Ruth Soetendorp, London)One entrant focused not so much on the nature of the advice but on the force with which it was necessary to administer it:
If you can keep it secret, do not patent it (Gabriele Gislon, Milan)
No. NO. HELL, NO (from Simmons & Simmons' David Stone who adds: "Apologies for the language, but it sure got the point across!")Another entrant was more concerned with the condition of the adviser:
How to deal with clients presenting "mad" inventions : Stand very close to the open door (this from Sarah Staines of Sherrards Solicitors, who gives this advice in the name of a well-respected UK patent attorney who may not appreciate an acknowledgement in this context)Some advisers play the odds:
Your chances of winning in court are never greater than 80% (Steven Hartman, Novartis. Many years ago the IPKat would have thought this to be depressingly pessimistic, but as he grows older he concedes that this can't be far from the truth)A similarly depressing message comes from someone who really has seen it all:
The grant of a patent is no guarantee that you will make money from it (this is from Guy Selby-Lowndes who adds: "This note was in the 1949 Act Patent Office leaflet. Sadly it is lacking in the present information to applicants")German polar bear cub trade mark expert Birgit Clark confesses: "My entry is bear related. It consists of Austrian Patent office president Friedrich Rödler's wise words on the Fu Long panda bear cub trade mark dispute:
Paying more attention to trade mark protection at an early stage can preventThere's more serious stuff to come:
lengthy and unpleasant proceedings
Be vigilant, remember litigation is not always the answer and make IP strategy an integral part of your commercial processes (Matthew Rippon, BHP Innovate, packs a lot in here. Presumably the vigilance relates to those bills)Florian Koempel, who is a reasonable man and very knowledgeable when it comes to licensing, has two entries which reflect his characteristics. They are
License first ask questions laterThe IPKat's personal favourite, however, and the winner this time round is from barrister Christina Michalos (5 Raymond Buildings), on IP proceedings:
Settle many, issue few;
Always read the IPKat too.
This is not because it mentions the IPKat but because it has style as well as substance -- and you can recycle the advice by substituting another 'readable' for 'the IPKat' if you'd rather. Well done, Christina!