Wednesday whimsies

If you are in Central London this Thursday, 28 January, and aren't too far from Holborn, various members of the IPKat blogging team will be having a refreshing drink at the Melton Mowbray pub, in High Holborn, near Chancery Lane tube station between around 5.15pm and 6.15pm. If you'd like to pop in and say hello to us, please feel free to do so. If you have to fill in a time sheet to explain your absence, just put this down to "serendipitous networking".

The IPKat has learned from his friend Pamela S. Chestek (Red Hat's Senior IP Attorney) that Red Hat just launched a website about open source and open collaboration at ("where open source multiplies"). It has a "Law" channel, where (Pamela says) we can all discuss legal issues, which are generally IP issues, as they relate to open source and collaboration. Warns the IPKat, be careful not to confuse this site with, or ...

Apple has been in the news a lot this week, with talk of the Tablet (says Merpel, "If an Apple a day keeps the doctor away, who needs to keep taking the Tablets ...?"), but the IPKat's favourite apples are Golden Delicious, withered to perfection and just about to ferment. Be that as it may, the produictive "pear" of Professor Paul J. Heald and Susannah Chapman have been at it again. This time he has produced an Apple Diversity Report Card for the Twentieth Century: Patents and Other Sources of Innovation in the Market for Apples. As he explains:
"Contrary to popular belief, the twentieth century was a good one for commercial apple varietal diversity. As measured by availability in commercial nursery catalogs, significant gains were made in both absolute number of apple varieties and the available number of pre-1900 historic varieties. In 1905, an estimated 420 different apple varieties were commercially available, approximately 390 of which dated from the 19th century or earlier. By 2000, 1469 different apple varieties were offered in commercial catalogs, at least 435 of which were pre-1900 century varieties. And, if one counts apple varieties maintained in the USDA orchards as commercially available (one can obtain scions by making a simple on-line request), hundreds more apples, including many historic varieties, can be added to the count. Most importantly, the data collected reveals the sources of diversity gains in the twentieth century, including an analysis of the percentage of varieties resulting from patented innovation, non-patented local innovation, preservation of old varieties, and importation. Although patented apples constitute a relatively small percentage of available varieties, they exhibit stunningly high commercialization rates and surprisingly low obsolescence rates. A unique list of all patented apples, their varietal names, and present availability is included in an appendix."
The IPKat really appreciates this research, since it is based on real and verifiable data that shows how the patent system, properly used, can confer not merely market advantage but environmental benefit too. This paper may be accessed via SSRN here.

A studious friend of the IPKat who finds herself going off to work for a company which uses Belgian law in its international contracts has asked him a question. He doesn't know the answer but hopes his readers might: "Is there are any intensive course (up to one week) on the applicable law in international contracts which I can study in order to get a good debrief on the peculiarities of the Belgian Law as compared to the law of England and Wales?" If you can help, please email the IPKat here and he'll pass the information on.

Another student friend of the IPKat hopes to study for a Masters Degree in Intellectual Property. He notes with sadness that the best-known courses in the best-known institutions are quite expensive and, since he comes from a country whose currency suffers from a disadvantageous exchange rate, he has asked the Kat if he can recommend a Masters course that is affordable, or at least relatively so. Once again, suggestions are welcome: mail them to the IPKat here and he'll both pass them on and, if possible, publish a list on this weblog.
Wednesday whimsies Wednesday whimsies Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. With the Melton Mowbray being just up the road, it would be positively churlish of me not to join you!

  2. Does the eupemism "serendipitous networking" for boozing during work hours really work?


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