Wednesday 30 April 2008
Tuesday 29 April 2008
Monday 28 April 2008
Right: not everyone can afford Bird & Bird ... and some people view the IP professions as little more than vultures
The role of professional advisers is not parasitic. Someone has to pay patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors etc so they must look as though they are feeding off this lovely relationship between government -- which gives the rights and incentives -- and creators who turn them into wealth. But isn't the role of the IP professional creative too? Patent claims and trade mark specifications don't exist in nature, and the cost to a rights owner (or a business affected by someone else's rights) can be catastrophic if things go wrong. And isn't it licensing, distribution agreements, outsourcing contracts and so on which mean that the inventions the government is so keen to promote actually get made in the factories and sold in the shops?
CIPA, ITMA and other representative bodies of IP professionals should waste no time in commissioning some first-rate research into what proportion of gross national product is attributable to their skills and creativity? The results may cause politicians to appreciate that the professions are part of the creative and innovative process, not vultures that feed on the carcase of its aspirations.
Saturday 26 April 2008
I was amused by the way in which the SRA announced its plans to endorse the practising certificates of sole practitioners to record that they are entitled to practise as sole practitioners. This was announced in a most apologetic manner, suggestive of many a discussion held behind closed doors when disgruntled sole practitioners on the SRA had no doubt objected to these plans. Yet all the time I was wondering why this archaic approach towards how many solicitors are involved in the running of a practise? Does it really matter whether a practise is run by a sole practitioner or by two or three solicitors? A bad egg in even the largest of law firms can do a lot of damage. If statistically most serious breaches of the accounts rules involving the compensation fund are caused by sole practitioners, then surely the approach should be to look at the types of sole practice that such breaches emanate from, rather than to conclude that sole practitioners as a whole present a disporportionate risk to the profession. Size is surely just one issue among many. I would guess that any inefficiently run business will pose more of a risk than whether the practise is owned by a sole practitioner or by several practitioners. So, I wonder what sort of people are running the SRA, and whether the legal profession can do anything to have a more business minded regulator in charge at a critical time like this?
Thursday 24 April 2008
If you can swallow the relatively informal and breathlessly animated tone of books in the Dummies series (which I personally find difficult but most readers seem to like), and can factor in the real-life crises the book doesn't mention, such as the occasional traumas one can experiences when navigating the WIPO and OHIM websites, it's actually pretty good. It's not a law book per se, nor is it a slick gimmick: it has lots of checklists and action points that an entrepreneurial client can attend to before he/she consumes precious professional time. For example, it encourages readers to steer away from those flabbily descriptive brand names to which clients are so easily attached and from which it can be so difficult to prise their initial affections. For those readers of this blog whose legal interests run wider than pure IP, it's worth reading the authors' and publisher's 16-line disclaimer on the copyright notice page, in bold capitals (is this copied from Disclaimers for Dummies? I shouldn't think so).
The next edition might benefit from an up-front checklist of IP myths that it can take time and effort to eradicate from clients' minds, such as the notion that you have protected your business name once you've registered it as a domain name or company name, or that the law actually protects people against the theft of their ideas. Something else I'd do next time round is rip out the McLachlan cartoon showing a bunch of inventors sitting outside a door marked 'Patent Office', clutching identical inventions on their laps -- not because it's unoriginal (which it is), not because it's badly executed (which it isn't), and not because it's misplaced (it leads into the Part that deals with copyright) but because it perpetuates another myth, which is that you have to wait till you have rendered an invention into tangible form before you can take it to the Patent Office (or Intellectual Property Office, as we now must call it) in order to secure protection.
At only £16.99 for 326 pages, (or £11.04 if you buy it here from Amazon) it's a good deal, particularly if you are thinking of buying a few as presents for clients, reception reading material or merely to read in the loo.
More details of the book here. Customer review by Ms E. Bunting here.
Friday 18 April 2008
I have secretly envied the facility with which some people, who already get paid for not working over several weeks in the course of the year [ie they have holidays ...], can unilaterally "throw a sickie" and take the day off, secure in the knowledge that the system enables them to do so without the pricking of conscience I experience if I occasionally stray out of clicking distance of my mouse.
Sunday 13 April 2008
Thursday 10 April 2008
No image with this post because I was going to use one fron Flickr which said it was public in a prominet green notice and then has a faded copyright notice saying all rights reserved. There are pics on Flickr available for non-commercial use but....
Monday 7 April 2008
If anyone else wants to add any comments and suggestions below, please feel free to do so.
* don't waste your time worrying about which events, talks and receptions are best in terms of maximising your chances of networking -- with 8,000+ people around, all of whom have a high degree of interest, commitment or expertise, you can hardly fail to meet and talk to the 'right' people;
* it is regarded as quite normal at the INTA Meeting to do some things that one might not do at home. For example (i) speaking to strangers and (ii) wandering round the streets wearing a large badge bearing the INTA logo (right) and one's own name;
* if you're working solo and not as part of a large firm, remember to factor in enough time between meetings etc to freshen up and/or take the occasional break;
* if you've nothing particular to do and nowhere in particular to go, the hospitality area near the exhibits is a good default place -- there are always people wandering round, coffeeing and often looking for a chat too;
* make sure you have enough pens, a roaming phone, detachable adhesive notelets, paracetamol, throat lozenges and other staples -- it can be disruptive and annoying so sort these things out in the middle of INTA when there's so much else going on;
* have three or four prepared professional trade mark-related conversation-pieces lined up for when you run out of chatlines concerning the flight in, the hotel accommodation, whether you've been to Berlin before, the weather etc.;
* have opinions on some mainline trade mark topics even if they don't impinge immediately on your work or your interests. These topics might include parallel trade, cyber/typo-squatting, internet auctions and comparative advertising;
* if necessary, make discreet notes on the backs of incoming business cards after you've spoken to someone - but don't trust your memory since you may find that conversation fatigue sets in and you can't remember who said what;
* bring plenty of business cards (not that so many people use them these days) and always have something to read -- it's often difficult to navigate efficiently and remain punctual, so you'll often by kept waiting by people whom you've arranged to see;
* make sure your website is up-to-date before you leave for INTA;
* the larger 'fringe' hospitality events are notionally private; it is however a widely-accepted convention that anyone can gate-crash so long as he/she leaves a card (the efficacy of these events is measured in terms of how many cards are gathered in);
* always be positive: it creates an impression that you are on top of things;
* be a good listener: it can be much less exhausting than always talking, and the person you're listening to will think you're really good for as long as you keep listening with the attentive face you learned to wear at tutorials as a student;
* don't schedule any work that requires serious thought and deep commitment for the day after your return.