Monday miscellany

Michael Ophir.  It is with sadness that this Kat has learned, via the IP Factor weblog, of the recent death of Michael Ophir, a former Commissioner of Patents and Trade Marks in Israel.  It was Michael's unique brand of cautious enthusiasm that led his initially sceptical country towards signing up for the Patent Cooperation Treaty. On a personal note, this Kat recalls one moment of personal kindness many years ago when, while minding his four small children, he received a call from the Commissioner who wanted to arrange an impromptu meeting with him.  Realising that the children would be likely to interrupt any serious IP discussion, Michael neutralised them by providing each of them with a delicious and outrageously oversized ice cream.  He will be fondly remembered.

From Katfriend and JIPLP editorial board member Professor Phillip Johnson comes news that University College Dublin has just launched its Intellectual Property Spring Seminar Series. The topics lined up so far are "The Return of Honest Concurrent Use", "Who is my Public?" and "Patenting Stem Cells -- A Wrong or a Right?"  There are all sorts of stars and experts featuring, as one might expect.  You can get full details of the series here.

The Workshop report
looks pretty meaty ...
On behalf of the European Intellectual Property Teachers’ Network (EIPTN) 2012 workshop organising committee, Katfriend and Queen Mary colleague Duncan Matthews writes to give everyone the good news that the report of the 6th annual EIPTN workshop, held at Bocconi University in Milan on 12 to 13 July 2012, is now available to download.  You can either retrieve it via the Milan workshop page [if you're lucky: the Kat couldn't get it here] or by directly from here.

The results of the 'Kickstarter' poll (on which, see here for background) are now available.  Readers were asked: "Should crowd-sourcing innovation fundraisers like Kickstarter be liable for their clients' patent infringement?" and they answered as follows
* Yes of course: if they fund the infringer they should be made to pay 6 (5%)

* Yes, if they could have checked out the risk of infringement but didn't 8 (6%)

* Only if they have played an active role in procuring or abetting the infringement 74 (62%)

* Never: as a matter of policy they should be immune, to prevent the chilling of funds 31 (26%)
The message seems clear: there is little support for kicking crowd-sourcing innovation fundraisers around by engaging them in patent infringement litigation unless there is a genuine reason why they should be implicated in it.

The UK Intellectual Property Office is trying to make itself even more useful than usual, according to its latest media release:
" ... Speaking at The Big Innovation Centre, Dr Cable launched a range of measures that will improve services to business, strengthen enforcement, and help consumers get the most out of creative products and services. The plans, which will involve a step change in the way the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) delivers services, include:
* launching a superfast patent processing service to deliver patents in just 90 days [bye-bye 18 month publication, says Merpel -- but we'll have to learn to speed-read ...] and a faster trade marks examination service which will deliver a full examination report in five days, instead of 10 [this is a curious one, thinks the IPKat, who can't recall anyone in business or the professions clamouring for it];

* a campaign to educate smaller businesses about getting the best value from their creativity and innovation [good idea in principle, but a bit of a two-edged sword, noted the Kat who has spent considerable time trying to get smaller businesses to unlearn stuff which they did take the trouble to absorb and which is now out-of-date. If this campaign is to work, it should not be a one-off];

* action to help consumers and young people understand the importance of respect for IP and the harm counterfeiting or illegal downloading can do [Merpel thinks this sort of action generally sounds more objective if it's not done by rights owners, even if the message is the same]; and

* working with key partners, such as the City of London Police, to tackle IP crime such as counterfeiting and online piracy [the Kats were rather under the impression that this was already being done; they're sure it has been covered in earlier media releases].
The new measures, which will come into effect next year, aim to encourage and help businesses get the best value from their ideas and boost growth ..."

New blog on the block. Scintilla: intellectual property at Allens is the latest law firm IP blog to attract the IPKat's attention: he was amused to notice how many letters of the word "scintilla" appear also in the name "Linklaters", an international law firm with which Allens has a semi-detached relationship.  Good luck, guys, says the IPKat -- we're all watching you!
Monday miscellany Monday miscellany Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, December 17, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. I think there's a slight conflict of interest issue here for the UKIPO. They are responsible for balancing the rights of the applicant versus third parties. However an individual company needs to try to get the best and broadest IP protection or have the best strategy for making the most of 'weak' IP. They therefore have to know when to take UKIPO advice with a pinch of salt.

  2. A genuinely useful service from the UK IPO would be the accelerated provision of filewrappers/individual documents from the filewrapper.

    Currently, there is a flat fee of £5.00 for uncertified copies of documents on the file - or an entire copy of the file - but it takes a couple of weeks to receive your documents.

    Accelerated processing of requests for the payment of a higher fee, similar to the British Library, would be a very useful service. Even if it cost £50 for the fastest service, a lot of people would still be willing to pay.

  3. When I was in industrial practice, the last thing anyone wanted was rapid grant. The initial filing to establish priority would generally be followed by a second filing at the end of the priority year to allow any further developments to be included in the follow-up application and to effectively get an additional 12 months' protection for any applications claiming priority under international convention. It also not infrequently happened that businesses who had decided not to file foreigns at the end of the priority year, had a change of mind. As long as we were informed before the 18 month publication date, protection could still be obtained by filing non-convention.

    Being able to say your new product was "patent applied for" while keeping competitors in the dark for 18 months was considered to be of considerable commercial advantage by some businesses, as it could discourage rivals from planning to make something similar until they had some idea of what the patentable features might be. One client used to get us to file applications for features that, to us, often looked trivial just to get a patent application number to put on the product. Rapid grant would have been no use to them!

    There also used to be an issue with the statutory bar in the US that meant you had to file in the US before you had a patent granted in any other country. As I am retired and have not done any US prosecution for years I do not know if this is still the case.


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