Merpel, having observed the fond farewells and messages of goodwill for Jeremy Phillips in recent days, does not wish to be contrarian for the sake of it, but she feels it’s too important a job to leave to amateurs.
It is widely recognised  that without Merpel’s intervention, this blog might well have become a mere footnote in the history of IP blogging. The IPKat, rather like the blog that bears his name (a sore point, see below), is undoubtedly a worthy and well intentioned feline, but he always needed a counterpoint, and this was a role which Merpel was, quite literally, born to fulfil. Jeremy, being one of the primary voices of the IPKat, has unfailingly served up safe, wholesome fare day after day, to which Merpel has added some much needed spice and extra flavour.
One would think Jeremy might be grateful for this crucial input. Yet, as the only human with the ability to give Merpel due recognition, he inexplicably and stubbornly insisted on retaining the “IPKat” name for the blog, ignoring the obvious drawing power that could have been achieved by a rebranding exercise to highlight Merpel’s starring role. This does not even touch on the many legal and moral violations he has committed by styling the blog “The IPKat”. Merpel suggests this conduct might be objectionable with reference to the paternity right, the Trade Descriptions Acts, and as a deceptive use of a trade mark (IPKat is a CTM). She has even contemplated exploring the court’s reaction to a claim for a novel, extended form of reverse passing-off of her own devising, but fears that she’ll run into a judge who values the principles of trade mark law over those of moral outrage, alas.
|Jeremy, pretending to be an aeroplane, in a vain attempt to distract Merpel |
from asserting her rights
Leaving aside the legal morass into which Jeremy has undoubtedly stumbled, a far more damning observation is that despite his blog-titling gaffe he is widely regarded as an expert on trade marks and by implication, on branding. Such short-sightedness in branding issues reveals the gulf between the learned academic (no matter how many books, papers, journals and lectures he may have under his belt) and the real-world rights and wrongs of trade marks.
Merpel was always kept on a very tight leash by you-know-who. She started improving the IPKat’s posts all the way back in 2004 with a few choice interjections, and was instantly and universally popular . It was not until 2011, however, that Jeremy allowed Merpel to publish the first post under her own byline. No doubt dedicated readers will recall with fondness the first time they saw the magical words “Posted by Merpel” at the bottom of a post, and no doubt they also wondered why it took seven years for Jeremy to allow this happy event to take place. Merpel recognises that seven-year apprenticeships may have been all the rage once upon a time, possibly in Jeremy’s youth, but they were conceived with human career spans and human lifetimes in mind. A seven-year imposition of silence is an unusually cruel way of gagging a kat who has something important to say for herself.
Similarly, while Merpel was granted her own email address several years ago, she has long suspected Jeremy (and others) of snooping in her mailbox, looking for inspiration for their posts. The truth is this: by the time Jeremy and his colleagues have robbed the safer topics for themselves, only the truly explosive and subversive items remain in the mailbox for Merpel to write about. This may have unfairly given her a reputation as something of a trouble-maker and firebrand. Merpel would love to write the occasional piece about the accession of some sleepy, deserted island nation to an equally obscure but well-meaning IP treaty, but she never gets the chance. Ever alert, Jeremy will inevitably have whisked these journalistic scoops from under her nose while she dozed.
In all seriousness, Merpel has much to thank Jeremy for. He gave Merpel her start, which has to count for something. He always allowed Merpel say what she wished to, even (or perhaps especially) if she might have had a view that the IPKat would not have expressed. Her sometimes outspoken commentaries have, unfortunately, landed Jeremy in hot water from time to time, and Merpel can’t think of anyone whom she would rather have in her corner when letters threatening legal action, outraged comments and indignant emails arrive. He has always taken the resultant flak with good humour and equanimity, and she is equally confidently he will take this post in the spirit in which it is intended.
A long overdue katpat to you, Jeremy (your first one, Merpel thinks!), and a sincere thank you from all of Merpel’s animating spirits, who wish you the very best of everything in your retirement.