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IP Yorkshire

"Bringing high quality specialist intellectual property and related services within reach of those who often need them most and can usually afford them least"

Call +44 (0)870 990 5081

Issue No: 2.  November 2008


This is our second monthly email. It discusses just a few of the IP (intellectual property) issues affecting businesses and individuals in our region. It also mentions our clinics and one of publications seminars and workshops.

IP concerns everybody - not just big companies and specialist lawyers. We all have client or customer bases that need to be protected. We all have trade secrets and other confidential information to be kept under wraps. We all create copyright works whenever we put pen to paper, or, nowadays, finger to keyboard.

If you want to know more you can subscribe to our blog, attend one of our clinics or networking events or join us on LinkedIn or Facebook.

With best wishes


In this article:

Software Inventions 

Making your Mark 

Access to the Bar 

NIPC Clinics  

Buy My Book 

Jane Lambert
Head of NIPC Law
Director of NIPC Ltd.

 Software and Business Method Inventions

Probably the most important IP decision of the year from the point of view of business is the Court of Appeal’s decision in Symbian v The Comptroller [2008] EWCA Civ 1066 (8 Oct 2008)  

The reason this case is so important is that it opens the door to at least some software and business method patents.   These are web-based technologies upon which the economies of most developed countries depend.  

America has had a different problem.    Patents have been available there for software and business method inventions for some time.   That has encouraged a spate of applications for patents for inventions of dubious quality.    Such monopolies have probably hampered innovation in the USA at least as much as the absence of patent protection has hampered it here.     

Shortly after Symbian, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit tightened the conditions for software and business method patents in Re Bilski (30 Oct 2008). 

Because those two decisions will affect everybody in the UK who makes extensive use of the Internet, I have discussed them in my IP/IT Update blog in "Software Protection after Symbian and Bilski".

To explore those cases and their effect further, NIPC Training has arranged a half day seminar in Liverpool on 5 Feb 2009.   I will speak. So, too, will Robin Bartle of WP Thompson.  I have also invited speakers from Intellect, the NCC, the UK IP Office and Kirwans.    The cost will be about £75 + VAT (which is less than half the cost of a similar course by the CIPA in London and Bristol).   It will carry 2 ½ hours CPD for the SRA and BSB.  Call 0870 990 5081 or complete our on-line form to register your interest. 

  Making your Mark

Patents are not for everyone but every business has a brand.

There are many ways of protecting a brand.   UK or Community trade mark registration, of course.  If you are very well established in your industry, you may rely on the law of passing off.   Over the last few years other options have emerged such as design registration for signs that cannot be registered as trade marks and registering well known trade names or trade marks as domain names.

Soon there will be even more choice as it will be possible to register almost anything as a generic top level domain name.    Thus domain names could end in ".yorks", ".smoke", ".cipa" or even ".google".   Obviously that will raise a lot of IP and competition law issues.    Just think of the rumpus if both City and United wanted to register ".manchester". Provisional guidance on how to resolve such issues was published by the GNSO ("Generic Names Supporting Organization") on 24 Oct 2008.

The new generic domain names will be just one of many issues discussed in "Making Your Mark", a half day workshop on brand protection in Halifax on 11 Feb 2008 between 14:00 and 17:00. This workshop will start with the basics and discuss all the aspects of branding law including the new domain names.   I will speak and so will Janet Bray. The fee will be £50 fee + VAT. Though no knowledge of the law is assumed it will be useful for lawyers. The course will carry 2 ½ hours SRA and BSB points. Call 0870 990 5081 or click on the on-line form to register your interest.

  Access to the Bar
NIPC Clinics
Buy My Book
Middle Temple Hall
Huddersfield Media Centre
Jane Lambert
Those who know him will agree that our most famous IP judge, Sir Robin Jacob, is not given to idle flattery. So when he told the IP bar that they were probably the best concentration of IP talent anywhere in Europe if not the world in a talk to our association in January 2007, we can be sure he meant it. And he was right. Much the same thing could have been said of the tax bar, the company bar, the admiralty bar and so on.

Until July 2004 the only way business could tap into that expertise was to ask solicitors or other professional intermediaries to consult counsel. That tended to be expensive because clients had to instruct 2 professionals. Also, it was not always reliable because not every intermediary knew the specialist bar well enough to make an informed choice.

Nowadays, if a member of the public wants

  • prompt and accurate advice on a difficult legal problem,
  • a complex contract reviewed or terms and conditions drafted, or
  • urgent representation on say an injunction hearing,

he or she can go directly to a barrister.  

Public access does not hurt solicitors, patent and trade mark attorneys or other professionals because barristers stick to advice, advocacy and drafting.   In fact, it probably benefits good firms because barristers are in an ideal position to judge the ability of those who have instructed or opposed them. They can direct clients to someone they can trust to do a good job.

To help businesses and the general public to make better use of barristers, the Bar Council is holding a day long conference in London called "A2B" or Access to the Bar Day on 27 Nov 2008. There will be some excellent speakers from government, business, universities, the bar and other professions.   Anybody can attend the event. Admission is free.    If you are interested in raising the quality and lowering the cost of legal services this event is for you. You will find more information on our blog (including a link to the A2B page of Bar Council website). If you want to come, call us on 0870 990 5081 or fill in our on-line form and we will forward your details to the Bar Council.

For nearly 4 years, NIPC has held free advice sessions known as "NIPC clinics" on IP, technology, media and entertainment and related issues on the last Friday of the month at the Huddersfield Media Centre.    Gradually NIPC has opened clinics in other towns. The clinics planned from now until the end of the year are as follows:


20 Nov

15:00- 17:00

Media Centre

28 Nov

09:30 - 11:30

Elsie Whiteley

3 Dec

10:00 - 12:00


9 Dec

10:00 - 12:00


18 Dec

15:00 - 17:00

If you want to learn what goes on at one of those clinics read the typical interview with one of our volunteers in "Tales form the Patent Clinic"in our IP Yorkshire blog.   This will be a regular monthly feature for those who appreciate Socratic or Archers style training.   If you want a an appointment, please call Toni Wilson on 0870 990 5081.

We plan to extend the network to York and Harrogate after Christmas.   Leeds will follow shortly. We shall launch NIPC Clinics in the North-West starting with Merseyside in the first quarter of the New Year.

Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights: A Concise Guide for Businesses and Creative Individuals

Jane Lambert

This is not a crib for law students, an academic treatise or even a lawyers' text book but a practical guide for business-men and women who find themselves at the wrong end of (or want to avoid) a search order or some other scrape.   The book distills Jane Lambert's 30 years experience of practice as a barrister, most of which have been spent at the IP bar.

The book begins with a typical conference with Sam Pepys, the author's non-too bright instructing solicitor, and his client, Mr Aardvark. They have come to counsel because Mr Aardvark's manufacturer in China has made some extra copies of his product that are now flooding the UK product. Counsel discusses the various remedies open to Mr. Aardvark as well as some of the things that Sam wanted to do that are not open to the client thereby narrowly saving them both from a threats action.    Subsequent chapters discuss in detail the IP system, the litigation system in the UK and other countries, funding enforcement, where to get help and much, much more.  

If you want to read more of Sam's misadventures, Jane has a new episode in the IP Northwest blog called "Educating Samuel" where she explains what is meant by added matter. If she has time, she plans to make "Educating Sam" a regular monthly feature.

Jane's publisher, Gower, is offering a 35% discount if you click the link and quote discount code is G8ALZ35. If you want to buy other Gower books at the same time you can qualify for a 10% discount on those as well.

Dewey Code: 346.4'1048 
Publication Feb 2009 
244 x 172 mm
Price £45 

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