This Kat was perusing the excellent IPDraughts blog the other day, and read this report of an interesting case Wright Hassall LLP v Horton Jr & Anor  EWHC 3716 (QB), which is a bit of an oddity - it is basically a solicitor negligence case, brought about by the solicitor claiming for unpaid fees, and the client counterclaiming for negligence. The oddity is that it is a case heard by a County Court judge sitting in the Queen's Bench division of the High Court, but with a substantial IP element (whereas usually a specialist IP case would be heard in the Chancery Division).
The case raises and answers an interesting question - under English law, does an assignment of a patent (other than by deed) require consideration?
The answer is given clearly in  of the judgment:
“an instrument in writing satisfying s30(6) is effective as a legal assignment without any additional requirement for consideration.”
Section 30(6) of the Patents Act 1977 requires only that the assignment "is in writing and is signed by
or on behalf of the assignor".
Now, this moggy must confess to being surprised by this. Many, many years ago he was told (by a solicitor, so it must be true, he thought) that an assignment not executed as a deed had to fulfil the requirement of contract law for consideration, and that therefore consideration was required. IPDraughts himself on the other hand was already of the view that consideration is not required for an IP assignment, and so the decision merely confirmed his already-held view. But this moggy suspects he is not the only practitioner to find this case surprising.
So this Kat wonders three things:
1) Who among our dear readers is surprised by this decision?
2) Does anyone think that it is wrong? and
3) Should practitioners carry on putting consideration into IP assignments (not executed as a deed) anyway?