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.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Fordham IP Conference 2011: part 2

The next segment of the Fordham programme was devoted to IP in Europe, staring with a presentation from Paul Maier (OHIM), who gave an up-to-the-minute account of the progress of trade mark grant and administration operations in his Office, magisterially dismissing Hugh Hansen's attempts to draw him into saying there was any competition between OHIM and trade mark-granting offices at national level.  Paul also vigorously asserted the need for trade mark examiners and Board of Appeal members to act within the framework of recognised legal guidelines when determining issues such as similarity of marks and likelihood of confusion, notwithstanding the opinion of certain fictional felines that those guidelines were hopelessly overintellectualised and were impossible to explain clearly to businessmen and law students.

Also speaking in this session -- and also taking advantage of the absence of European Commission heavyweights on the panel -- was Silke von Lewinski (Max Planck Institute for IP).  Mentioning the complexity of copyright as a subject, she articulated something which many of us had wondered, which was the observation that the Commission was perhaps less well-endowed with seasoned scholars of copyright law than it may have been in earlier times, and that could be argued that a measure of deep knowledge of the working of the subject might be viewed as an obstacle to progress rather than as a means of achieving it.

There being no patent people speaking, the task of reviewing patent law developments in the European Union was split between David Rosenberg (Glaxo SmithKline) and Tom Vinje (Clifford Chance). There was a consensus that the current failure to achieve a unitary patent litigation system was frustrating but that it was better to take longer and get a technically workable solution than jump ahead to a system which didn't work to optimum effect even if had the supreme advantage of being politically acceptable.

Following an unscheduled mid-session break, the speakers and panel covering IP issues in the US took the platform. The Kat, having been on the previous panel and then being serially detained by friends and questioners on his way to and from the coffee table, was delayed getting back to his coveted front-row seat. He did however have the joy of watching a thoroughly effective mini-movie, shown by John Morton (Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement), on the all-too-rarely-perceived link in the minds of the US public between illegal copying and the loss of jobs among those working in the legitimate copyright-driven sectors.

This session led to a discussion of Google Book, the legitimacy of the project, whether it was good or bad, whether it was even capable of being stopped and whether anyone else was capable of competing against it. The question was also asked whether legislation, not settlement-plus-litigation, was the better way of sorting out conflicting claims of stakeholders. Panellist Paul Michel observed that there was a Congressional bottleneck here, while Professor Arti K. Rai characterised the ailment as Congressional incompetence.

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