Turn again Whittingdale -- and does Razzall Dazzle?

To his embarrassment but, he expects, to the embarrassment of rather more people than himself, it was not until a few sunny days ago that the IPKat even knew of the existence of the United Kingdom parliament's All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group. Google didn't seem to know too much about it either, taking a rather slow 0.23 seconds to dredge up the 16 'hits' for its exact name that the Court of Justice of the European Union likes to call "organic" search results.

The function of the Group is laudable: "To debate and highlight the value of intellectual propery [ooh!] rights to the economy and the importance of intellectual property protection and enforcement". Does the Group do much debating and highlighting, then? The Kat suspects not. Its website, which has not been updated since before last May's General Election, rather suggests that its good intentions have yet to be put into practice.

Who are the members of the Group? The government 'team' consists of the following earnest souls:
John Whittingdale (who appears to be the point of contact), Louise Bagshawe, Mike Weatherley, Rebecca Harris, Baroness Buscombe, Lord Colwyn, Lord Inglewood, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Razzall [Merpel really loves this name: wouldn't it be great for a rapper?] and John Hemming.
The opposition contingent consists of the following:
Chris Bryant, Jenny Chapman, Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, Jim Dowd, Baroness Morris, Lord O’Neill, Stephen Pound, John Robertson, Stephen Timms (all Labour Party) plus Pete Wishart (Scottish Nationalists)
John Whittingdale MP can be contacted at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA. Tel: 020 7219 3557 (no email address is given). You can read a bit about him here and here. The Kat's very pleased that Mr W is sufficiently interested to be involved in this group, but wonders if he is known to anyone in British IP circles. One further fact about the Group is that it receives secretariat services from the wonderfully-named Luther Pendragon on behalf of the Alliance Against IP Theft (whose website contains an out-of-date reference to the Group): the Alliance also paid for the annual summer reception held at the Commons on 12 July 2010 to which none of the Kats was invited. Does anyone know who was?

Merpel says, this group was founded in 2003 and is therefore the same age as this weblog -- and she wonders if readers can tell her anything about what it does, and what precisely is the level of interest and commitment to the IP debate that may be found among its members. Please post your comments below unless you're worried that they may be defamatory, in which case you can run them past the IPKat first ...
Turn again Whittingdale -- and does Razzall Dazzle? Turn again Whittingdale -- and does Razzall Dazzle? Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, August 06, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Yet another governmental legal website, full of the best intentions, with neither the requisite knowledge, funding nor staffing to take itself onto the web.

    Of course, there are three main flaws to what I just said: first, the requisite knowledge is minimal given that it is splattered across the web already; second, it costs pocket money to maintain and develop a wesbite these days; and third, and perhaps most importantly, it takes one person to run the thing, not a group of elite parlimanetarians.

    This blawgger has just about had it with the ineptitude of some in the public sector; others, however, are providing a great service: take, for instance, the new legislation.gov.uk website or the supreme court's website (which, to be fair, could be doing with an RSS feed, just like the US Supreme Court's one. A 10 year old could copyKat such developments). It's a good job we have websites like the IPKat which can actually sustain a decent page ranking!

    Gavin Ward
    Wardblawg Limited

  2. Given the secretarial support, worth noting that the only parliamentary activity listed on the group's website are two EDMs: one in June 2008, congratulating the Aliance against Intellectual Property Theft, and one in October 2008, welcoming the release of the last James Bond movies and, er, perpetuating the idea that "...such films are particularly vulnerable to theft through illegal recording in cinema auditoria..." before calling "...on the Government to introduce as a matter of urgency legislation specifically to make such activities a criminal offence".

    Any support the Alliance is providing certainly seems to be proving cost-effective in making their case in parliament.

  3. Thanks to Chris Torrero we now have a email address for John Whittingdale: whittingdalej@parliament.uk

  4. John Whittingdale MP is well known to the live music sector - but not necessarily for IP! John was and is still Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Before the election he and Lord (Tim) Clement Jones (Liberal Democrat), among others, were fairly effective in pointing out some of the more nonsensical parts of the Licensing Act 2003 which had for long time been criticised for stiffling the development of small bands and grass roots music - in particular New Labour's decision to scrap the old 'two in a bar' rule where one or two usually acoustic folk and jazz musicians could play in a pub, community hall or other small venue without the need for a Licence. I hope that that change will now be reversed and some of the bureaucracy removed!

  5. Lord Razzall has experience of patents. He campaigned successfully for the names of inventors to be kept secret if they desired; he was supported by Earl Attlee. This has always been possible for European patents but our Patent Office, now IPO, has resisted following the EPO lead strenuously for many years.

  6. As always, there is much self interest behind Parliamentarians' Westminster activities. Lord Colwyn, of course, is well know for blowing his trumpet all over the capital. The Daily Telegraph informed readers last year ,that the noble Lord is also not above jazzing up his Lords allowances. If I remember correctly, there was a nod and a wink reference to his forgetfulness over where he lives, many thought it was Chelsea - we were all wrong ! Another member of the IP gang, Lord Razzle, also earned a few column inches for his ability to maximize every single penny from the taxpayers' generous Lords allowances scheme. Birds of a feather ...........

  7. Hello
    I’m delighted that the All Party IP Group has come to the attention of the IPKat. The Group has been a very useful forum for raising IP issues with parliamentarians. Previous activity has included a session on the Digital Economy Bill where MPs and Peers heard from, amongst others, authors, film set construction managers and football development managers how online copyright infringement is effecting them, an inquiry into the (previous) Government’s progress in implementing the Gowers Recommendations (the report of which can be found at http://www.allpartyipgroup.org.uk/pdfs/Gowers.pdf), and evidence sessions on the problem of fakes being sold at markets and the impact IP crime has on local communities.
    The Group had to be reconstituted following the General Election which is why some of the details are little out of date. This has now taken place and new information will be posted shortly. We are delighted that John Whittingdale is the new Chairman of the Group. John has a long history supporting IP industries. He is Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and previously tabled a Private Members Bill which sought to address the problem of counterfeits being sold at markets and car boot sales.
    I’ll happily post dates of future meetings on the blog.

  8. Rumour has it that Tim Razzall (as he then was) is a former partner of Frere Cholmeley. His credentials to represent the IP community are impeccable.

  9. Would that be the same Frere Cholmeley that collapsed in the 1990's - reportedly through financial difficulties and imprudent expansion ? I recall that some of the partners who went down with the ship were rerscued by HMS Eversheds. Again, only what I read of course.

  10. This All Party Group provides an extremely useful entree to parliamentarians on IP matters. It was not so long ago that finding an MP with an interest in IP was like finding a needle in a haystack. The Group hosted a very helpful meeting with a DTI Minister a few years ago on parasitic product packaging and proved influential.

  11. News : The Tragic Demise of Frere Cholmeley Bischoff

    May 13 1998

    Famous City of London legal name Frere Cholmeley Bischoff is no more. Last week the 45-partner firm ceased to exist after half of the partners left to join national UK firm Eversheds, and several others formed a new specialist private client/property firm Forsters. Most of the remaining partners and assistants have joined other firms in London. The collapse came after the firm found itself under severe pressure for several years. A substantial overdraft, and the international expansion into Berlin, Dubai and Barcelona in the early 1990s (followed by the subsequent closure of these foreign offices) are the most often cited reasons for the firm overstretching itself. Many in the legal world have seen the sad end of Frere Cholmeley as a warning to other medium-sized firms, highlighting the pitfalls of over expansion, and failure to concentrate and focus on a core practice.


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