Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Fordham in Cambridge

I was delighted to meet Robert Hurst as another SOLO practitioner taking advantage of the opportunity for serious CPD in Cambridge. Nothing could have prepared me for Professor Hugh Hansen's unique style of presentation. It is traditional for business plan competitions to time out loquacious presenters but I have not seen the same technology employed in a professional conference environment against such eminent speakers. All took it in good part.
The morning was devoted to policy issues. We started global and by lunchtime it seemed more relevant to the real world. Copyright issues dominated the politics but we did learn that there was to be a review of the CTM system by the commission and they were going to look at the relationship with national offices (now likely to be redundant after the fee reductions) and whether it was sustainable to have a CTM validly maintained by use only in Malta or Lithuania. The Community patent is to get one last hard push. Margot Frohlinger of DG Internal Market was hopeful that some sop could be found to trade with those resistant to the proposed no-translations and no-validaton needed proposal. Something like the tomato quotas for which the Portuguese had traded use of their national language at OHIM. The proposed patent court may have a better chance of seeing the light of day, with the ECJ having a very limited role to answer questions strictly limited to European law.
After coffee we had the insights of the judiciary. Lord Hoffman will not be a judge by next Tuesday and he was in relaxed mode. The CFI was not represented and came in for a lot of criticism. William Robinson of Freshfields defended but all those trademark opposition appeal decisions seemed to satsify nobody. Apparently national courts have difficulty understanding the ECJ opinions too. This leaves them scope for interpretation and they don't therefore have to disagree. Such is the diplomacy of judges. The Honorable Randall Rader appointed the whole audience federal circuit judges and showed us that it was impossible not to consider policy in any decision. He said that a judge could not be blind to policy issues but you must be aware of your limitations as you dive into those incredibly deep waters.
At lunch I discussed blogging with some Fordham students who were running the time machines.
The afternoon saw me joing the trademark and design stream, but my Internet is about to dry up so no more for now.

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