Monday miscellany

There's still time to vote in the IPKat's poll to choose a name for the proposed patent that will cover only part of the Community. You can find the poll at the top of the side bar on the IPKat's home page; voting continues till Wednesday morning. Meanwhile the Kats have received two further suggestions for the not-yet-patent, both from Michael Lin. They are the European Cooperative Patent or ECP (since those who don't cooperate are not invited) and the HHFOP or the Hell Hath Frozen Over Patent (Michael assumes that no explanation is needed).

Following the IPKat's post about IPHire last week he has received quite a bit of email correspondence about the availability of positions in the field of intellectual property.  The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) has a job board, as does the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), here.  The Kats suspect that there may be others.  When there are good folk out there who are actually looking to give out jobs, it's tragic that there are also lots of good folk out there who are looking for them and can't get them.  Let's hope that the coming year is a good one for IP employment!

From not-yet-patents to not-yet-trade marks, the decision of the General Court of the European Union last week that chocolate fauna (bunnies, mice, reindeer) were unregistrable as Community trade marks for confectionery products as being "devoid of distinctive character" has generated some comments, plenty of correspondence and a number of tasteful photos of readers' chocolate animals. One correspondent, Tom Garland -- who also knows a thing or two about repositionable adhesive notelets (here) -- wonders whether the lack of distinctive character could be redressed by making the animals gender-specific, along the lines of the definitely registrable Heffner Playboy Bunny. The IPKat notes that it's easier to register the Playboy Bunny, since the trade mark is a two-dimensional image rather than the product itself.  Says Merpel notes, on the subject of gender, it's strange that, while the Heffner Bunny logo is implicitly male, since it bears the black tie which is symbolic of formal male attire, the three-dimensional version of the concept of the Playboy Bunny which is likely to be summoned up in the consumer's mind is that of a female.

What a shame that Case T-19/07 Systran SA v The European Commission is available only in French.  It seems to this Kat that the Third Chamber of the General Court has fined the Commission executive 12,001,000 euros for infringing the software copyright of Systran.  Could the fact that the decision exists so far only in the language of Victor Hugo be anything to do with the fact that Systran's software is used for the purpose of, er, translation?  Anyway Merpel notes that the sum in question is made up of 7 million euros in unpaid fees, 5 million euros by way of compensation and 1,000 euros in symbolic compensation for non-material damage.

For support
without growth ...
A media release from the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announces that Professor Ian Hargreaves, who is leading the independent review into intellectual property and growth (see earlier posts here and here) has now issued a call for evidence on "how the IP system can best support growth". Ian writes
"I hope to hear from the widest possible range of interests. I also urge respondents to focus upon the question at the heart of this review rather than the catch-all remit of some previous reviews, namely: what, if anything, should we do to change the UK's IP system in the interests of promoting more rapid innovation and economic growth? It is through that lens that I will be assessing all responses. The most persuasive arguments will be those supported by the most robust evidence. That evidence might come in the form of statistics or in case studies based upon direct, personal and organisational experience".
If you follow the link you will find details of the questions the review will consider and on which it seeks evidence. Says the IPKat, now that many readers are snowbound and their winter holidays are cancelled, they should seize this golden opportunity to answer this call.

[A Merpel Kat-rant starts here] Merpel adds that it's worth noting the words "what, if anything, should we do to change the UK's IP system?"  In her opinion, one of the reasons the UK system fails its users is that it has not been able to teach them how to use it better.  Whatever its actual or theoretical faults the British IP system is recognisably the same as that of very many countries that appear to enjoy more rapid innovation and economic growth than that experienced in the UK.  How often do we spend money on advice and protection when it's not needed but fail to seek it when it is?  Or go to court when it's a waste of time to do so, but fail to take legal steps when we should?  And look at the poorly-drafted, poorly-thought-out licences that end up in stress, suspicion, and downright distrust between businesses that should be working together?  If we only knew and understood our own system better, how much better off we'd be -- and how disappointed will we be if, when we do improve our system, it still fails to deliver the goods because we haven't learned how to play it?  We've already introduced an absolutely brilliant facility by which anyone, for just £200, can get a patent examiner's expert opinion as to whether someone's patent is valid or if a specific act is likely to infringe it -- but it's hugely underused because almost no-one has heard about it.  There's now a wonderful new regime for cheaper IP litigation in the Patents County Court which even some lobby groups seem to have missed.  The key words for Hargreaves to consider are INFORMATION, EDUCATION and, oh, can't remember what the third one was .. .

"Izzy wizzy,
let's get bizzy ..."
Nothing to do with the previous post is the sudden realisation that the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS, pronounced, it seems, "biz") could reach out to the business community by registering the domain name, which is still (as of the time of posting this item) available.  The BIS wouldn't have to vacate the altogether more pompous and official site: it could just point to its 'real' name, but at least it would have more of a bizzy buzz and would make it easier for some businesses to believe that the Department really cared about them and not about the sort of things that many government departments are fabled for thinking about (eg their own budgets, promotions, pensions ...).
Monday miscellany Monday miscellany Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, December 20, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. As to the case Case T-19/07 Systran SA v The European Commission: it is remarkable that the EU Court did not see a jurisdiction problem to handle an IP infringement regarding copyright, while in case Case T-295/05 Document Security Systems, Inc. v European Central Bank (ECB), the EU court refused to hear an IP infringement regarding a patent for alleged lack of jurisdiction.

    This does not look consistent or logical.

  2. "Merpel"'s comments look perfectly sensible, and I would encourage her to send them in to the review.

    Incidentally, one of the things that struck me when reading the Gowers Review was how much of what he was saying seemed to be just passing on information that he had been sent. On a few issues, there were opposing views expressed by people, and he weighed them up and made a recommendation, but the general feel was that he was assuming, for any issue, that the correct answer would be sent in by someone and that all he had to do was spot which one it was.

  3. My suggeston for the proposed opt in EU patent would be the Community of the wise patent, in short COWPAT.



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