Monday 17 December 2012

The new European patent package, SMEs and the solo practitioner

The new package: will
there be anything in it
for small IP firms?
Now that the new European patent package is more or less done and dusted, subject only to possible and unexpected sabotage by the French, German or British governments, the time has come to consider what it all means for solo practitioners and small IP practices.  The European Parliament, the Commission and other "official" supporters of the new measures have all stressed how much benefit will be conferred on small and medium-sized entities -- businesses which have hitherto provided much if not most of the work for small and medium-sized IP practices. Will the new measures leave this happy correlation unchanged?

It's this blogger's guess that, while the patent filing side of things may remain unchanged, when it comes to litigation many SMEs will find themselves driven into the arms of larger IP practices, particularly where the resolution of the dispute is likely to require travel to two or more overseas destinations, as Lord Justice Kitchin indicated could easily be the case in his speech to the CIPA Congress this October.

This blogger feels sad that the recent experience of the modified Patent County Court for England and Wales, with capped costs, streamlined procedures and some scope for cost-saving through the instruction of patent attorney litigators, has come too late to have been considered as a possible template for a small-scale patent resolution forum under the new European regime. He wonder what others think.

Thursday 6 December 2012

The CIPA Journal: It's a Hard Act to Follow

An encounter with Michael Harrison this morning at the excellent Hardwicke Chambers breakfast seminar given by Mark Engleman on Jackson costs, prompted me to pick up my November copy of the CIPA journal - since Michael is now the new editor of this illustrious publication, having taken over from Tibor Gold. If you are a member of CIPA, you will be able to find the journal online here.
The Editor
So much praise has been heaped on Tibor that Michael will need some encouragement in order to implement modernisation and changes in the journal. However, 10 years is a long time in a publication's life and there is always room for evolution.

The fact that we are looking at the November issue and it is already December suggests that a publication cycle for print is no longer in keeping with the demand for immediate information. Perhaps the time has come for less paper and a companion Internet publication to cover more immediate matters on which the membership need to be consulted or at least aware, such as the not so secret diary or upcoming ECJ cases where CIPA might be encouraged to put in a position

Reducing the number of print editions would save some costs allowing for development of the new online version.

Maybe the time is right to consider making that online version a joint effort with ITMA, or perhaps  making the paper journal of record a joint publication.

It is good that the learned articles that are of value for future students should have a print form. It is also good that these articles should be moderated, fully edited and have enduring quality. There are plenty of prospective authors who want an outlet for their work and I suggested to Michael that liaising with the PR consultants who work with IP firms could well be beneficial in providing new material. Many aspiring authors are rather short of ideas for their articles and I am confident that Michael's wisdom might be exercised in commissioning some pieces that would be valuable for all members of the profession - but with an emphasis on the patent attorney in practice. Casenotes are one thing - and are well covered by exisitng media - but a survey of the case law on a particular topic over a period of time and its relevance to claim drafting, or even the trend taken by a specific judge so that we know how to advise our trademark clients where to put their figleaves, are always excellent article material but they do require the author to undertake some very specific research, so it's always nice to hold a commission for one.

Do give Michael some encouragement to make his mark, innovate and create as only a patent agent can