Hogarth seminar; Point to ponder

This Friday afternoon, from 2pm to 6pm, intellectual property specialists Hogarth Chambers are hosting their popular annual summer seminar.

Right: last year's Hogarth seminar (an artist's impression)

This year's theme is "The Cutting Edge", which must be something to do with the choice of venue (the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2). The speakers are as follows:
* Guy Tritton: Trade marks
* Andrew Norris and Michael Hicks: Copyright in the Court of Appeal
* Nicholas Saunders: Patentability of software
* Alastair Wilson QC: Privacy and Confidence
* Guest speaker Kim Connolly-Stone, of the Gowers Implementation Team.
For the deserving and the discerning, the event is CPD accredited for 3.5 hrs. The event is lavishly sponsored by the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (here) and Christopher Morcom QC is in the chair. It's only £95 plus VAT. If you'd like to attend, or just want more details of the cases that the speakers are talking about, contact Kathryn Williams by email here or telephone her on 020 7404 0404.

If you ask many IP lawyers, particularly the young and enthusiastic ones, how long the duration of a patent is, the answer often comes back as "twenty years". That's not strictly true, says IPKat co-blogger Jeremy, since for most inventions - where supplementary protection certificates are not available - the very maximum is twenty years from the patent's priority date, which is usually a few years short of twenty years from grant. Worse still, so many patents expire before their allotted span for a variety of perfectly justifiable reasons (the invention doesn't work; it does work but nobody wants it; it's too expensive to maintain; it's just one of a number of patents for the same invention, but it's not the best; it's superseded by a later technology etc) or are revoked. A bit of gentle sampling has led Jeremy to suspect that most patents don't live much beyond their twelfth year. That means, he says, that the average duration of a patent is about the same as the average life span as a domestic standard poodle.
Hogarth seminar; Point to ponder Hogarth seminar; Point to ponder Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. Jeremy, I think you might have a typo in your note on the duration of patents. The very maximum is twenty-one years from the priority date and twenty years from the filing date.

  2. Wrong! The 20 years runs from the filing date not the priority date: s 25(1) Patents Act 1977. However the IPKat is correct to point out the common misconception that it runs from grant.

  3. The maximum lifespan of 20 years (excluding SPCs) is not strictly true, as a common route for applicants is to file a PCT application 12 months after a national priority application. The 20 years then starts from the PCT filing date, not the original priority date. The lifespan can therefore be up to 21 years from the earliest priority.

  4. Quite right - in my excitement to go public over the poodle point my fingers ran ahead of my brain! Thanks for coming to my rescue, everyone.

  5. If you're going to count the duration of a patent from the application date, shouldn't you be consistent and calculate the life span of a poodle from its date of conception?

  6. It's wonderful how the patent fraternity leap on the duration point, without pausing to think about the marvellous poodle analogy.

    Are most patents just poodles ? With some notable exceptions, are the rest just pointless objects of little real value or concern to anyone ? Should we rename 'patents' as 'poodles' ?

    Maybe not.

    Would CIPA like to be renamed the "Chartered Institute of Poodle Agents". Would AUDI like to boast, as in their recent advert, that there are 1,000 poodles in relation to their A3 model, whereas NASA only has 57 poodles all told ?

  7. Don't you mean "Chartered Institute of Poodle Attorneys"? They haven't been "agents" for a couple of years now. While on the subject, have you noticed that very few names of dog breeds have been successfully used as trade marks.

  8. So if I file a patent application on 10 July 2007, when will the patent expire : midnight on 9 July 2027 or midnight on 10 July 2027?

    As for dog names, what about Rover?

  9. From the Manual of Patent Practice, 25.04.1:

    "A notice in the Journal dated 22 July 1992 makes clear that from the date of that notice patent expiry dates recorded on the Register, announced in the Journal and recorded in official renewal information, would be based on the interpretation of relevant provisions of the legislation that the full term expires on the day before the anniversary of the filing date of
    the application; and that this change in procedure applies only to the expiry of a patent and not to the lapsing of a patent due to non-payment of a renewal fee. Thus a 20 year period that starts on 4 November 1992 ends on 3 November 2012."

    Your patent will therefore expire at midnight on 9 July 2027 (at least in the UK).

  10. Further to David's remark, it again shows the benefits of having a EP patent - patent protection is for 21 years and 1 hour.

    Dogs and Brands - how about Bulldog? Also when will the EU get involved in limiting the right to market dogs of a particular breed? Alsations only from Alsace, Rottweilers from Rottweil?

  11. "Are most patents just poodles ? With some notable exceptions, are the rest just pointless objects of little real value or concern to anyone ? Should we rename 'patents' as 'poodles' ?"

    The value of patents should exhibit power law distributions, which would be very interesting to see.

    (By way of explanation ... net worth of individuals is subject to a power law distribution ... ie 1 person has billions of dollars (eg Bill Gates), 2 people have half that much; 4 people have half that much again; eight people have half that much again; sixteen ... etc etc ...). Interestingly, the plot would cut through the x-axis to negative values (ie maintaining / filing but also the development costs).

    Challenge ... anyone around here like to guess what is the most valuable patent and stick a USD value on it?

  12. Stop it, stop it. Get a life for Gawd's sake. Blinking Poodle Attorneys.

    Now, back to the important question: what dog breeds have been successfully registered as trade marks.

    Does HUSH PUPPIES count ? Will FIDO do ?

  13. Erm, re. the 21 years argument, of course the patent has no validity during the priority year - the priority year is only an artifice to allow rights to be prioritised and gives no right before filing.

  14. Corgi - recently indirectly in the news here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6282258.stm.

  15. Thanks, whoever it was who said "Erm". I am in your debt.

  16. The erm-man speaking. Of course, it's never that easy with patents and countries. The current "Visser" notes that the 20-year term (Art 63(1) EPC) starts with the filing and not the priority date. The end of the 20-year term varies from country to contracting state (oh yes!), so that a filing on 26.11.1979 leads to a patent term starting on either 26.11.1979 or 27.11.1979 depending on the contracting state!

    Art 63(2) EPC allows any contracting state to extend the term under certain circumstances.

    Art 67(1) EPC points out that provisional rights are acquired once the application has been published. Art 64(1) EPC makes clear that full rights begin on the date of publication of the mention of grant (not publication of the granted patent - oh double yes!).

    Back to work. And no, I'm not a patent lawyer. Nor do I write in green ink...


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