Offering a generous prize of complimentary registration to CLT's excellent one-day Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference on 28 January (brochure here), the IPKat -- whose blogging team is represented on the programme -- organised a competition for the best new intellectual property proverb. He was quite overwhelmed by the volume of entries, many from avid and enthusiastic readers who (i) didn't know what a proverb was ["A short pithy saying ... that expresses a basic truth or practical precept"], (ii) chose to substitute their own definition for the usual one or (iii) didn't really care what a proverb was but just wanted to send the IPKat something witty or provocative to keep him amused.
Alex Smith (Sellafield Ltd) observed that there was already a perfectly good IP-based proverb in "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". Nonetheless, the IPKat was hoping that readers would coin some fresh words of wisdom rather than recognise the relevance of old ones.
Peter Jennings (Jennings IP and Media Solicitors) offered several entries, of which the ones the Kat liked best were "A cybersquatter and his abusive registration are soon parted" [Not soon enough, growls Merpel], "A rolling stone gathers huge royalties" and "One man’s patent is another man’s anticompetitive practice".
From Antony Gallafent (Gallafents) came "A patent a day keeps the infringer away", which left the IPKat wondering about Apple's current spat with Nokia in the United States [on which the AmeriKat has this to say]. A kindred spirit is Sunelle Geyer (Senior Lecturer in Mercantile Law, Unisa) with "An application a day keeps infringement at bay". Coincidence or collusion?
The fertile mind of Mark Heritage (Davenport Lyons) brought forth the following gems: "The Office For Harmonisation In The Internal Market giveth, and Office For Harmonisation In The Internal Market taketh away" [this is remarkably topical, given the current discussions over what to do with OHIM's fee mountain], "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but poorly scoped-out undertakings annexed to a letter before action never hurt me” [ouch!] and "Many a 22nd or 23rd dependant claim for a computer-related invention is spoken in jest” ...
Not a proverb by the IPKat's reckoning but deemed to be one by Wikipedia -- and none the less enjoyable for all that -- is the poetic parody of the well-known children's rhyme by Sue Scott (Abel & Imray):
For want of attention, the claim was lost;The IPKat sincerely hopes that Ms Scott's job is safe. Anyone who can create such elegant verse must write the most beautiful patent claims.
For want of the claim, the patent was lost;
For want of the patent, the market was lost;
For want of the market, the business was lost;
For want of the business, my job was lost.
And all for the want of attention.
A more mathemetical frame of mind was displayed by Kilburn & Strode's Jim Miller, who won the CIPA Drafting Prize in 1995 but hasn't let that affect his sense of humour: "The number of letters a patent attorney receives is proportional to the cube root of the number he writes to his client" [This initially flummoxed Merpel, who, not being a consumer of brassica, didn't know the difference between 'cube root' and 'club root'].
The laconic Lucy Holloway (Swindell & Pearson almost makes Calvin Coolidge sound like a chatterbox with her memorably short "No claim, no gain".
Definitely not a proverb, but Graeme Fearon (Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons) shows his erudition. What's more, if ever the language of the Unified Patent System in Europe should turn out to be Latin, Graeme's tuum hominem. He writes:
"Virgil says "felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas" ("happy is he who knows how things work"), but how about "Feles qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas" ("A Kat is he who knows how things work") [Merpel says, it may well be Virgil, but I still think it was Lucretius].Jeremy Cronk (a trainee at Freshfields) came up with a couple of good talking points: "The road to wealth is paved with good inventions" and "Genius is an infinite capacity for taking patents". Ascending the hierarchy within the same firm, Associate Katherine [Kat] Westall proposed "The early bird catches the worm, but the intellectual property lawyer always gets the cheese". Finally we have the magisterial presence of the IPKat's friend Justin Watts, with a couple of crackers: "A leopard can't change its spots and they're probably not even an original work under German copyright law" and the splendidly biblical allusion to one of Europe's finest judges: "Whatever you got away with in the past, Jacob won't give you anything for a mess of potage now".
Finally, the Gnomes of Geneva -- a regrettably anonymous contributor who occupies a position of power and influence within the international IP community but has managed to retain a sense of humour in spite of that -- offers a panoply of proverbs and other pensées which include the following:
* "'tis better to have lodged and lapsed than never to have lodged at all"
* "It's a poor workman who claims his research tools"
* "All's fair use in love and war"
* "UCC no evil, OHIM no evil, SPC no evil"
* "ALAI iacta est"
* "The unexamined patent is not worth litigating" [The IPKat, with his classical training, remembers the bios anexetastos in the Apology of Plato]
* "ACTA speaks louder than words".