For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Time for that IP Tsar?


The IPKat made his feelings known on the subject of an IP Tsar last month here and here.  Since raising the subject he has received many interesting comments, both for and against, and he has been favourably impressed by the manner in which his readers have made a variety of constructive points.

The thing which most persuades him to support a call for an IP Tsar is the continuing stream of correspondence he has received from representatives of small and medium-sized businesses who feel that they are doubly at a loss.  First, they are often unable to finance the litigation, whether as claimants or defendants, which either seeks to preserve their IP protection or to preserve their freedom to trade without threat of encroaching on the IP of others.  Readers of this weblog will already be familiar, in this context, with the battles of the small entity Golden Balls Ltd against businesses many times its own size and with ample litigation resources (see eg earlier IPKat posts here and here).  Secondly, they feel that their complaints to government ministers, officials, Members of Parliament and others are futile since they receive little in response other than a sympathetic echo of their own plight.

Here's another story well worth a read.  The protagonist this time is Christine Watson, proprietor of the JOLLY HOLLY trade mark -- duly registered but somehow overlooked by Disney Inc and its licensee, character confectionery company Kinnerton.  Christine has fought valiantly and imaginatively to preserve her pitch, and her struggle once again demonstrates the existence of a gap between the laudable government aspirations and the reality on the ground.

An IP Tsar who champions IP rights, who integrates and coordinates criminal and civil law enforcement, who provides guidance and support to those who legislate, administer and quantify the results of IP, to hit heads together and encourage a little common sense, and who can help think up effective ways of enabling SMEs to finance the justifiable protection of their IP investments -- this is what we need.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The trade mark has done its job - Disney and Kinnerton have ceased use. It is unrealistic for Ms Watson to also expect to earn a quick buck out of this, and her solicitors should have advised her of this at the outset.

Anonymous said...

To the earlier Anonymous:- "The trade mark has done its job". But has it? What assurance does Ms Watson have that this use won't recommence? And won't her brand equity be damaged by the fact that both trade and retail consumers of the Kinnerton/Disney product will need some education that her brand is not theirs. They might even not want to stock her goods if they think she is free-riding on a Disney concept.

Matthew said...

Congratulations IPkat on your identfication of this issue, so frequently overlooked when we review judgments in cases involving in the main very large and well established businesses. Might I also draw your attention to the plight of those innocent infringers faced with aggression from major rights controllers such as Getty Images, the PRS and others, many of whom face having to make settlements for damages and legal expenses in sums that far outweigh anything that could be recovered in court, or else face the prospect of defending litigation with all the terrifying consequences thereof. The problem is that there is a total disconnect between the aims and objectives of Govt officials and IP thought leaders on the one hand and the day to day reality for SMEs and private individuals on the other. This will never be addressed satisfactory by a 'top down' appointee.

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