Thursday 25 June 2009

A new age Dawns

I learned yesterday that Dawn Osborne, a partner for 9 years with top international IP outfit Rouse, has made a major career change and gone in with Palmer Biggs Legal, a small IP boutique not far from Gatwick airport in the leafy surrounds of rural Surrey.

Dawn has extensive IP experience which covers litigation, mediation and general advice in IP-busy sectors such as fashion, luxury goods, jewellery, retail and travel. She is also a person who is known for her enthusiasm, involvement and commitment. A Big Name, she lectures, publishes and projects herself with the confidence of a seasoned and leading practitioner of her art. So why take this monumental step at a time when markets are uncertain (as are clients' budgets for legal advice) and the advice most City solicitors are following is one of "sit tight"?

Perhaps the answer lies in the flexibility of the new technologies and the price-competitiveness that can result from ditching City overheads. Most traditional large law firms are based on economies of scale: library resources, secretarial and logistical back-up, security, catering, heating and lighting, insurance -- put a lot of people under the same roof and divide the cost between them and the per-unit cost looks good. But who needs their own library these days? And in the era of broadband, BlackBerries (and their competitors), Skype, search engines and the like, the economies achieved by scale are looking like last century's calculations.

Good luck, Dawn -- a lot of people will be watching you and wondering whether they should be doing the same thing ...

Friday 12 June 2009

Don't Rush to file Your International Registrations

A guest blog from the solo known as Cam Trade Marks and IP Services
Just been announced (by Jessica Lewis of OHIM at an ITMA Seminar on IRs in London on 11 June) that the new Madrid fees for EC designations - equivalent to EUR 870 - will become effective on 12 August 2009. For any filings before this date, with payment of the old amounts, the equivalent of the registration fee and class fees will be reimbursed ONLY in case of final refusal. So, if you can hold on, it makes a lot of financial sense to wait until this date before filing any more EC designations via the Madrid system

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Paying for Regulation

No, not that sort of regulator - I mean the one that the Legal Services Act will impose on IP practitioners whether they practice as solicitors or under the protected titles for registered trademark attorneys and patent attorneys. IPREG has a consultation out on how the cost should be shared. Download it here. Naturally it peddles the alleged evidence that SOLO is high risk and will attract the use of most regulation services. Rest assured, Mr Heap, we do not want them. However since the professional members of the Shadow Board are all drawn from big practice, we do not stand much chance. Hopefully lay members who will properly consider the concerns of the consumer will be appointed soon to redress the balance.

The object of regulation is to protect the consumer. What about a payment model based on turnover like insurance premiums. Surely turnover reflects exposure to the market. At the moment we are counting people and regulated bodies. Some SOLO practices employ armies of paralegals and have high turnover. Are these the high risk ones or are the low turnover ones an equal risk? I have asked for the evidence referred to in the Consultation Document but so far the request goes unanswered.

I believe the consumer does deserve the benefit of regulation but at present the Act seems likely to achieve the exact opposite of its intention and the exodus of many business advisers in the IP and wider legal field from the regulated sector. Since the practice of law (other than litigation, probate and conveyancing) is largely an unreserved activity In England, this seems the most likely outcome.

Do our clients deserve more. If they do perhaps we should consider voluntary self- regulation. Oh that was what the profession used to be about wasn't it?