Judge makes a beeline for Bee Load ruling; Is anyone going to TIPLO?

BBC Worldwide Ltd v Bee Load Ltd (t/a Archangel Ltd) [2007] EWHC 134 (Comm), a Commercial Court decision of Lord Justice Toulson a couple of weeks ago, on 8 February 2007, was not going to get a mention on this weblog. It's one of those cases which is long on facts and allegations but short on law. What's more, it's only a middle-of-the-journey ruling, since the real issues of liability are yet to be determined. But several readers have emailed the IPKat to say it ought to get a mention - and on balance they're right.

Right: Cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy album - one of the most evocative icons of the early 70s

The dispute involves a series of three contracts entered into by a subsidiary of the BBC with a company that proposed to exploit commercial some of the Beeb's archival recordings (including some vintage Led Zeppelin stuff). The contracts provided for the BBC to use its endeavours to obtain copyright clearance and for the payment royalties, among other things. Litigation broke out in the US, where the court stayed proceedings pending what it hoped would be a determination by an English court as to what the contracts actually meant.

In the decision noted here, the main item of interest was the fact that the BBC applied for summary declarations as to what various parts of the contracts meant. One might have thought that a complex web of contracts was not exactly fertile ground for summary relief, but the judge thought otherwise. If all that the court needed to do here was to give a ruling on what specific provisions of the contract meant, and was unlikely to have his opinion changed after listening to long-winded technical arguments at trial, a summary declaration was appropriate. On that basis he gave various interpretations to the contracts' provisions. Now all that remains is for a ruling on whether the BBC is in breach of them.

The IPKat, who is really keen on summary judgments where they can be given, welcomes this ruling. Merpel observes, the fact that the case is complex doesn't mean summary relief can't be granted, if the issue before the court is an open-and-shut one.

Read the decision in full here on BAILII - or get a life

On 28 February TIPLO, The Intellectual Property Lawyers' Organisation, holds its annual dinner. The main course is a double-headed talk by Lord Justice Jacob (who needs neither introduction nor explanation) and Mark Bezant (LECG) on "Remedies or Headaches? Calculating compensation for infringement of Intellectual Property Rights".

Since Lord Justice Jacob has caused more than a few of the headaches in question, says Merpel, it would be good to know whether the IP Enforcement Directive 2004/48 has provided the panacea. The IPKat says, more importantly - since he (the IPKat, that is - not Jacob LJ) won't be able to attend, he'd like a literate, objective and thoughtful person who is going to be there to offer his services in writing a short note for this weblog. If you'd like to volunteer, email the IPKat here.

Headaches here
Headache cures here and here
Guaranteed headache cure here
Judge makes a beeline for Bee Load ruling; Is anyone going to TIPLO? Judge makes a beeline for Bee Load ruling; Is anyone going to TIPLO? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeremy

    We always welcome new members to TIPLO events as you know. We actually have quarterly dinner meetings with at least one speaker at every dinner. Details of up coming events can be found on the TIPLO website at www.tiplo.org.

    See you there!


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