Friday, 27 February 2009

Thank You and Too Like Update

Thank you to every one who supported our SOLO group meeting last night. I know I enjoyed meeting new faces and catching up with old friends. It was great too, to have the stalwart services of our sponsors, Ian and Neil from Transglobal Payment Solutions to force a way to the bar for us.

We all enjoyed Judi Pike's presentation greatly. She tackled all interruptions gracefully and the audience was alert and interested throughout. I would have presented her with a bouquet of real flowers but they would have been a nuisance on the train so here is a virtual bouquet.

One question that was raised was whether the Company Name Adjudicator supplanted the Secretary of State's powers to direct a name change for a company name that is "too like" an existing one. The answer is they don't. An existing company can still use that facility. See the Companies House Guidance here. The power is currently under the 1985 Act but the Companies Act 2006 contains a similar provision under s 67 (1) scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2009. If any one has the relevant regulations then please add a comment.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Podcast CPD

Get your CPD on the go with an IP podcast from Peter Groves. The first edition can be found here. I like the idea of listening to the news. Give Peter your feedback and maybe he will let us have a discounted subscription. Be kind - its not so easy to speak to the microphone. When I had them, my secretaries were always telling me how bad I was so kudos for Peter for attempting this new medium.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Is Regulation of Trademark Attornies Necessary?

The ITMA meeting on Tuesday with Michael Heap - the newly appointed Chair of the IP Regulation Board (IPREG) was ratherly poorly attended. Maybe the UK's IP professionals are relaxed about the new regime as just another tax on practice. However I suspect that many trademark pratictioners will just drop off the register. Unless you are a litigator, there does not seem to be any singnificant benefits to either you or your clients. If you want to litigate you have no choice, you must be regulated.

The Government does not seem to think that regulation of trademark practice is necessary either. One of the first small firms to benefit from their new loan guarantee scheme is Trademark Direct - an apparently unregulated practice. See the FT report here. It seems they have used some of their new funds to write a clever search tool that delivers a Yes No answer. I like it and appreciate the generosity that makes this tool available to all. I can cross-check my opinions for free. Given that many trademark applicants go direct to the UK IPO, I am sceptical that attorneys can add much to the delivery of the trademark filing process using an automated website. Genuine professional assistance is another matter.

I wanted to know how IPREG was going to be perceived by the consuming public. However it seems that as regards the consumer IPREG will have a low profile. So how will my client know that I have been judged competent and am committed to my own continuing professional development? It seems its down to me to say so.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Is valuation suddenly so important (surely not!)

I found some rather surprising results of a survey in a recent email circular from Intangible Business:
"The significance of valuations

In disputes, 98% of lawyers found intellectual property valuations significant or very significant to their disputes. For non-contentious issues, 97% of lawyers found the valuation of intellectual property significant or very significant in supporting their project objectives. Clearly, when it is used, valuing intellectual property helps. In our experience, the value of the intellectual property is an important contribution to the cases in which it is required. If you think about it, this makes sense. As intellectual property – especially trademarks and goodwill - forms such a large portion of business value, how can its value not be damaged by negative business activity? Or how can knowing its value be anything but central to commercial activity?

Valuations’ future significance

The lawyers we researched thought the role and significance of valuing intellectual property was going to increase. 65% of litigators thought the significance of IP issues to disputes would increase and 75% of non-contentious lawyers thought it would also increase in the future. No-one thought its significance would reduce"(emphases added).
Any thoughts as to whether the sample of IP lawyers interviewed was typical?  

Saturday, 7 February 2009

INTA lets down its Paying Members

I know that many SOLO members find INTA membership at US$850 well beyond their means. In fact one of us regularly attends annual meetings at the non-member rate because that makes better economic sense and the other member benefits are insufficient for a SOLO - unless you are lucky enough to be a Professor when you can join for a mere $75.
I was delighted, therefore, that INTA was organising a Roundtable in London. Something to justify that huge spend to my virtual financial controller. I got an email on Tuesday and replied on Wednesday. So slothful, I admit it. It turns out this event on the protection of well-known marks is limited to 20 and despite my suggestion there are no plans to move to a larger venue.
I absolutely applaud the desire for delegate participation, but limiting delegates to 20 when there are no less than FOUR high quality presenters seems unrealistic. I suspect the email I received was sent at least to the 273 member organisations in London, possibly to the much greater membership in the United Kingdom

According to a recent mailing I got from ITMA the UK IPO say the skills of trade mark agents in the UK have been overtaken. Come on INTA do your bit to help. The picture to the right is Richard Heath of Unilever who is this year's President of INTA. I hope some of the Unilever attornies managed to get a place at the roundtable as they have many well-known brands to protect.