Friday fantasies

It's time to exercise
a restraining influence ...
Readers' comments. Over the years, one of the most cherished institutions of this weblog has been the facility to post readers' comments.  While this facility is moderated, the blog team has sought to exercise its prerogative to block readers' comments only where they are plainly spam, entirely irrelevant or (relatively infrequently) defamatory or obscene.  However, this blogger is concerned that this facility is being abused by a number of readers who have begun to post anonymous comments that consist of little other than abuse, whether of members of the blog team or of other readers who have posted comments.  Criticism of another person's opinions or reasoning is acceptable and indeed highly desirable, as is the correction of factual or legal errors -- but there is nothing that can be gained from posting personal abuse and insults, a practice that lowers the tone of debate and does nothing to enhance the reputation of this weblog as a place where even unpopular arguments can be articulated, analysed and, where appropriate, refuted.  Accordingly, this blogger proposes to reject comments that consist entirely or mainly of personal abuse. If any anonymous reader feels that his or her freedom of speech is being compromised (as has been asserted on some previous occasions when this blogger has refused to allow an offensive comment), the person affected is free to post that abuse elsewhere and link back to the Katpost and/or comment. Alternatively, the abusive commenter can emerge from the protective shell of anonymity and give verifiable particulars of his or her identity, so that readers can ascertain for themselves the value, or lack of it, of the ad hominem abuse which they seek to publicise.

Forthcoming events.  Don't forget to check the IPKat's Forthcoming Events page, here: there are always new seminars, lectures and conferences ahead, sometimes free and often with special price reductions for IPKat readers. 

This Kat's first academic employer, the Law School in Trinity College Dublin, has just advertised an assistant professorship in intellectual property law [historical note: in 1979 this Kat succeeded in getting some IP teaching on to the TCD syllabus under the banner of 'Intellectual Property' and not just as a couple of lectures in the Personal Property course. He is thrilled to see what progress has been made there since he left!]. Full details can be obtained online here. The post summary is as follows: 
"The permanent assistant professorship in law is a full-time position. The successful candidate will lead the development of the Law School’s scholarship and teaching in Intellectual Property law. Applications are welcome from legal scholars in the field of Intellectual Property law and related areas. The successful candidate will be required to contribute to the lecturing programme of the Law School and to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students. He or she will also be required to carry out administrative duties, to engage in research and to be active in seeking research funding. The closing date for applications is 31 July".

An excited email from this Kat's friends at Elipe [briefly mentioned in a round-up here] tells him that this fledgling business's new website is now live at Elipe has been created to help private and public sector organisms focus on policy issues where IP and enforcement are involved, as distinct from providing legal services.  Says this Kat, if the only thing Elipe achieves is to improve the generally woeful standard of media releases and lobbyists' manifestos issued by those folk who seek its services, it will have done something to improve the IP environment. 

Around the weblogs. Does "The Spirit of Cuba" mean "the soul, mood or essence of Cuba", or does the phrase refer to "the alcoholic beverage of Cuba"?  If you were to find it on, say, the cover of a CD or as the name of an aeroplane, it might mean the former -- but when you apply to register those words for rum and rum-based alcoholic beverages in Class 33, consumers might just jump to the conclusion that they are a description of what they might find in a bottle.  Former guest Kat Laetitia explains on Class 46, here.   Elsewhere, Mike Mireles on IP Finance lists some criteria for measuring the success of university technology transfer offices and asks readers what they think of the suitability of those concepts as metrics. The jiplp weblog posts Martin Husovec's penetrating analysis of the issues involved in site-blocking injunctions following the CJEU's ruling in UPC Telekabel. Finally, if you live under the mistaken belief that the word "Telegu" is something to do with televisual or telephonic technology and associated goods and products, check out this recent item on Marty Schwimmer's Trademark Blog for a spot of cultural education.

Neuftec: a footnote.  Those readers with long memories and a firm grasp of attention to detail will instantly recall this weblog's 2008 post ("Oxonica v Neuftec: Flawed Boilerplates") on IP contracts and how not to draft them.  In terms of 'matters arising', Neuftec has been back in court again (Energenics and Neuftec v Hazarika [2014] EWHC 1845 (Ch)), noted here, where a number of claims against former Neuftec director Ronendra Hazarika were dismissed, to his evident relief.
Friday fantasies Friday fantasies Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, June 27, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. One sees clearly a lack of appreciation of "rough language" in the author's leading comments.

    The US has a First Amendment highly prized because in substantial part such rough language is protected from the application of censorship in the guise of gentility. Superficial and surface politeness is a weapon of the politically correct, and as they say (they with their identities often protected), political correctness has everything to do with "political" and nothing to do with "correct."

    Since IP tends to bring out rather strong emotions on subjects considered highly important to society (i.e. innovation and expression), one might consider that the penalty of enduring a higher degree of rough language (in comparison to discussions on other matters) is but a small price to pay.

    The notion of "identify yourself" likewise misses (and misses badly) the concept of anonymous and pseudonymous posting liberating the ability to be more forthcoming. Labeling as you do the content to be "abusive unless" only highlights the censorship angle underlying the proposition. Invoking the threat of censorship is an aspect considered in the US First Amendment jurisprudence. I see nothing here that would survive such a scrutiny.

    You are proposing to set up an unknowable system ripe for, shall we say, selective editorial control (in the States this would invoke legal obligations...).

    Perhaps a compromise in the vein of a George Carlin designated and published "keep out" list? Provide bright-line examples so that sensitive people won't be offended.

  2. Dear IPKat,
    I applaud your decision to restrain anonymous abuse.
    Thank you,
    Tom Broadhurst

  3. Anonymous of 13:38, I have no objection to rough language where it serves some sort of function within a debate, which is both why I've allowed a quantity of comment which some people do find offensive (how do I know? Because I've received emails from readers and from 'victims') and why I've been so reluctant to take action till now.

    But roughness that cannot be distinguished from personal abuse has no educative value within the context of this weblog. It also undermines the self-confidence of blog-writers and others who are happy to use their real names and to receive adverse comments that they can address and deal with.

    It's one thing to be told that you have failed to identify a key case or an obvious point and that, accordingly, your negligence or haste has led to you writing a pile of rubbish. But it's quite another thing to be told that you must be some sort of blind moron, without any sort of explanation.

  4. Thanks Jeremy,

    But you rather prove my point (not sure if you are open to seeing that) - as you are falling prey to the Crybaby Veto syndrome, and any sense of "undermining self-confidence" is entirely far too nanny-like (such restraint based on "self-confidence" fails US jurisprudence as a valid reason). Ask yourself, would you apply that same type of coddling to the floor of the Commons?

    As to the anonymity/pseudonymity aspect, I do not see a reply, so I will assume that you understand my point.

    I will grant that your point of "blind moron" without more is a valid one (modified slightly as to the fact that some of these posters habit multiple blogs and already know full well the "more" (and it is often a tactic of these very same crybabies to simply want to climb atop their soapboxes and to NOT engage in any type of reasonable discussion whatsoever).

    That being said, I will apply your point in so far as to inform your readership as to any basis of a harsh response going forward.

  5. I don't see how Annonymous at 13:38 can possible see a first amendment problem in not allowing some comments on the IPKat, unless he also considers that we should be free to graffiti his home with whatever messages we choose.

  6. Well said, Anonymous 16.01. I think the Anonymous at 13.38 is only writing in order to try to wind people up so that the Ipkats will have a dilemma as to whether to allow the posting of abusive comments against him that they actually agree with,

  7. I am not a US citizen, but isn't the first Amendment concerned with preventing the (US) government making a law against free speech? It is not applicable to blogs, forums etc, which can be run how their authors/owners choose (even when they are US-based).

  8. Jeremy, I agree with you. Ad hominem attacks should not be allowed.

    Curious reference by Anon to the House of Commons. Not sure why we should be accepting what goes on there, which is often infantile, but even there they have some limited rules of politeness. To quote the Parliament website: "Unparliamentary language breaks the rules of politeness in the House of Commons Chamber. Part of the Speaker's role is to ensure that MPs do not use insulting or rude language..." The Speaker can and does eject MPs from the chamber who use unParliamentary language.

  9. The House of Commons point actually works in Jeremy's favour. When one Parliamentarian abuses or insults another in the House, it is never, ever anonymous: it's generally face-to-face and the insultee has the opportunity to respond in kind when he next has the floor.

    As between bloggers and comment-posters on the one hand, and anonymous commentators on the other, there is an asymmetry of information and no equality of arms

  10. Sounds like Hazarika loves these David V Goliath battles! First Richard Farleigh and now some indian billionaires! It's a shame that the UK courts are becoming the skirmishing grounds for the rich and famous, residing outside of the UK or maybe it is a compliment to the fairness of UK justice - normally?

  11. So the future of this blog is: select group of indviduals get to write their piece in the 'KAT' style, occasionally researched, usually not. Select group of individuals (named) get to respond with their viewpoint. Third group (anon) must not disagree with either select group or challenge their ultimate knowledge of the subject. Such individuals are somebodies, whereas, such anons are nobodies.

    The language of the blogger is uncensored and may be critical and judgemental. The language of the named responders is expected to be high brow, and bloggers are confident of satisfaction.

    Any anons wishing to join the party must be deferential and uncritical. They certainly must not talk from a position of knowledge or experience, because that would make the important people look smaller than they believe they are.

    Go for it Jeremy!

  12. Jeremy, (1) if abusive, hurtful etc comments are being posted, how are they getting through editorial review in the first place ? (2) was it really necessary to elevate this into a rather dramatic IPKat post ? Surely you could just have adopted a more rigorous editorial review, with comments on rejection, could you not ? (3) the IPKats are not infallible nor, for want of better
    wording, "a cut above" others and whilst the general quality is high - particularly you and lately Eleonora - this is not necessarily so for one or two of the Kats. Although I do not comment on the posts, I have noticed that one or two IPKats are more concerned about quantity than quality or seem to be rushing to the extent that the posts are just a series of quotes interspersed with a few lines written by the
    author or suffer from grammatical / language issues for example . Of course the Kats also work and so posts have to fit around that but I doubt that anyone would object to a less rushed more considered approach.
    Please do retain anonymous comments, as you can
    see, it allows for more openness.

  13. Thank you Jeremy! I commented as no. 49 on a quite sensible post, that I took exception to that comments had strayed considerably from the subject and had merely become abusive. Commenter no. 51 tried to offend me, anonymously, of course, and so really proved my point.

    But moderation is best done in moderation, if a lively debate is to develop. The problem with most commenters is that they write directly into the comment field, rather than in a text editor, such as Notepad that permits you to see your whole opus and re-read it before going public. "Is the World really going to be a better place if I publish this" is the acid test. I confess that I am so feeble-minded that I need a draft before I put my name under it. I have lots of drafts that never need to bother anybody. My anger will have dissipated while writing, and so I avoid angering others. I'm a saint, ain't I!

    best wishes,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  14. And Jeremy and the IPkat team can ignore their own rules when they wish to be critical of those beneath themselves. In particular, the team can make snobby comments of the likes of sportsmen, especially those from the footballing classes. Wayne Rooney and Louis Suarez are particularly suitable examples for the team to rely on. Oddly enough, they probably don't read this blog and cannot defend themselves.

  15. Well said to all Anonymous on Friday evening ! George, you certainly are a saint but not a Kat - if you were a Kat, you would not let your anger dissipate and that would be okay, because you are a Kat and therefore you can be angry, critical, personal, ungrammatical, unresearched and simply quote from other text in chunks if that is the way you want to blog.

    Jeremy, if you could rewind, I am sure you would agree that it would have been better to ask IPkat readers for their (anonymous) views on the quality of the Kats and their blogs, perhaps as one of your occasional surveys. The results would probably have been expressed in a positive fashion rather than the comments which you now actually have. But perhaps you were angry and fuelled by other Kat's sensitivities...

  16. Great! Be a named contributor and I am free to insult.

    George merely proves the point of previous anon.

  17. Jeremy, you have clearly proven that your editorial involvement is excessive and protective of your buddies. I see you allow your named friends to be directly critical of specific posters. Just because they are anonymous posters being criticised does not lessen the criticism. Good luck with this website. I hope you and your little friends have fun being pompous together, unchallenged.


  18. Busy day - so just a few quick comments.

    Asymmetry of information is a farce - the only information necessary is the information of the post. If you have to depend on "credibility" linked to a real name, then your post is too shallow. Let's not promote the authority fallacy, shall we?

    First Amendment is not used in the context of a government regulation. Clearly. It is used for its principles of advancing society as a whole by purposefully NOT limiting harsh speech - that's the point that the politically correct do not want you to notice.

    This blog belongs to the owners of the blog. They can do whatever they want to do. That too is not at issue. They can simply stop commenting altogether and thus totally own ALL of the snide comments possible.


    The choice is theirs. However, understanding the principles of the First Amendment (and not pandering to the excessively sensitive) may - just may I tell you - provide a better blog. Some of the inanity passed off as "opinion" is nothing more than propaganda claptrap from the get-go. Some of these very same whiners post the same propaganda on other blogs, and REFUSE to have a discussion - polite or otherwise. Some of these very same whiners do NOT want a discussion at all. They want to be able to climb atop their soapbox and present their views unchallenged.

    Sorry, but these people deserve ad hominem. These people deserve to be treated harshly. These people already know that what they do is offensive in itself. Repeating something over and over and over again, without taking any of the valid counterpoints into consideration is merely trying to make what is wrong into being something right.

    There is another adage in the states: Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. When you marry that with political correctness - especially on a blog concerned with law, you enter a dangerous (albeit fully up to the blog owner) ground.

    Harshness is a small price under the bigger picture.

  19. ANON on Saturday 28 June 21.21, have to agree with you on over-protectiveness; plagiarism also rears its ugly head from time to time. I have only noticed this for one Kat actually but have heard that it does not get addressed.. begs the question why not ?


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