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.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Wednesday whimsies

The IPKat has been doing some thinking about IP and access to information in Europe.  He remembers how, when the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) opened its doors to Community trade mark applicants in 1996, much of Europe's IP fraternity was still getting used to the internet and email. OHIM had an online presence, but it was pretty static compared with the excellent website it has today. However, OHIM was in the business of processing applications, oppositions and (eventually) cancellations: it did not see itself as a massive information-provider.  As editor of the then-new European Trade Mark Reports, this Kat made two trips to Alicante to plead his case for Board of Appeal and Opposition Division decisions to be made available to him so that he could report them. He recalls being rebuffed at first with the answer: "If we let you have them, we'd have to let everyone else have them too".

Things are now so different.  The OHIM website is literally awash with searchable, accessible information concerning its own decisions and a large number of other things.  But is all as well as it should be? A young researcher told him that he recently sought some information from OHIM and was rebuffed with the response:  "We don't give individual information. We try to make all our information available on our website and cannot respond to any further inquiries". In other words, when formerly it was the policy not to give out information unless there was a clear requirement to do so, it now appeared that the policy was not to give information out because it was already out there somewhere, just waiting to be found. Fortunately this was not the end of the story: the researcher persisted and has now made contact with someone who, it seems, should be able to help him.

Once he had worked out how
to open Windows, everything
else was easy ...
Most readers of this weblog are presumably net-literate.  Younger readers will have been taught how to make best use of computer search facilities; older ones will have learned the hard way, through trial and error. Good web design, increasingly powerful search tools and a combination of intuition and experience make it easy for IP practitioners, clients and researchers to pinpoint the data they require. Yet even this Kat gets frustrated in his pursuit of information: on three occasions recently (twice in the public sector, once in the private sector) he has been unable to find data which he knew to be available online and he was unable to summon meaningful assistance from the sites' designated contact points.  He wonders if he is alone in speculating that the best way to stop anyone finding an item of information -- particularly if all the obvious search terms are common words or the success of the search depends on the use of diacritical signs --  is to make it available online.

Postscript: OHIM, ever conscious of its commitment to make its website more pleasurable for users of the Community trade mark and design systems, has launched an online survey, which should take no more than two minutes to complete. You can access the survey here and can answer the questions in all five languages in which OHIM operates.




Around the weblogs. IP Watch reports that the Committee of International Trade of the European Parliament voted yesterday not to refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a ruling as to its compatibility with current EU law (for background see earlier Katpost here). Afro-IP hosts this thoughtful piece from Kingsley Egbuonu on whether the US or the UK provides better technical assistance for Africa's IP infrastructure.  On the copyright-based 1709 Blog, Eleonora Rosati writes comically about the attempts in Italy to pass an online copyright law (here and here) while Ben Challis, on the same blog, explains that the Spanish equivalent, the Sinde Law, may already be obsolete and Kat/1709 blogger Jeremy posts a reader's anxious inquiry about whether Apps need a special legal regime.



Just kidding ...
If you are planning to do some serious litigation in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and have a long flight ahead of you and nothing to read or do, why not dip into the latest draft new rules of procedure for the CJEU. The Kat has taken a peep at it and can confirm that, unlike the new rules for its little brother, the General Court, this draft does not have any content that appears to be IP-specific.  Presumably that will change in the event that the CJEU finds itself hearing patent cases, in addition to the rich and varied diet of trade mark, copyright, design right and database right cases it has been dealing with of late.




Truth is stranger than fiction.  Last week the IPKat announced the publication of a novel, Patently in Love, by Rhoda Baxter (see earlier katposts here and here), for which a reviewer has now been found. No sooner than he had done so did he receive this email from Ivan Cotter:
" ... Would you believe that, as a retired patent attorney who has spent over 40 years writing non-fiction (though not all examiners would agree with the “non”!), I published my first novel (The Schmetterling Effect) on Amazon on 15 March 2012 (the same day that Rhoda published her book) and that the hero is a male English patent attorney who falls head over heels for an Irish trade mark attorney who he meets in her office in Dublin? Having said that, the love story is incidental to the main plot, so I do not see Rhoda’s book and mine being in competition. My main plot line is that the consumption by a Dr Schmetterling (which is German for "butterfly") of a considerable amount of Irish stout in an Irish bar in Berlin in 2005 leads, a few years in the future from now, to reformation of the European Union (EU) in an ugly form, nuclear war in the middle east, economic collapse in Ireland, the discovery of huge oil and gas reserves under Ireland concealed by the EU, a vicious murder, retribution for the murder, and a geopolitical effect of surprising magnitude! (Also, for IP-type readers, some digital signal processing and mechanical engineering is thrown in!) 
Anyway, I hope that Rhoda and I are both successful in our ventures from the technical into the artistic".

Merpel asks: "is this what
they mean by a partners'
meeting ...?"
Still on the subject of Rhoda's book, the IPKat has received another saucy paragraph of romantic prose rich in patent allusions. It emanates from Brian Whitehead (Kempner & Partners LLP) and runs like this:

“The RANDY LADDIE made the DISCOVERY that a PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION in the KITCHIN satisfied a LONG-FELT WANT. He was SKILLED IN THE ART, and went well beyond what was OBVIOUS TO TRY. After a suitable GRACE PERIOD, he finally obtained the INJUNCTIVE RELIEF he was seeking”.
Thank you, Brian. Normally this weblog wouldn't welcome the receipt of a solicitor's letter but, if all your writing is like this, the Kats might make an exception ...



To make sure the bloggers find you in a dark,
crowded room, please make sure you wear
your Viking helmet on arrival
Meet the Bloggers @ INTA 2012.  The date is fixed for Monday 7 May, between 8pm and 10pm.  The venue is the Hill Country Barbecue [note the correct spelling!] Market, 410 7th Street NW, Washington DC.  The hosts are Marty Schwimmer (Trademark Blog), John L. Welch (TTABlog), Ron Coleman (Likelihood of Confusion) and Erik Pelton (ErikPelton.com).  The event is free, all are welcome and, well, that's about it.  Great chance to meet bloggers from all five, six seven continents and to discover how much older some of them are than their photos suggest. Brilliant invite/RSVP here.

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