Most Major US Business Clients expect to spend less on Legal Services
In a flash survey carried out in November 2008, Altman Weil found that many of the world's leading companies plan to cut legal spending in 2009. Even those who do expect to increase spending forecast the rate of increase to be less than in previous years.
The main targets for spending cuts will be outside legal services. General counsel (senior in-house legal advisers) expect to make those cuts by doing more work themselves, switching to less expensive law firms and negotiating alternatives to hourly billing. US law firms are already beginning to adapt their business models in the face of competition from firms with innovative billing methods such as Valorem in Chicago and Internet based practices which enjoy very low overheads.
If the UK, competition for business clients will if anything be even more stiff with challenges not only from innovative firms within the solicitors' profession but also from other professionals such as patent and trade mark attorneys, an increasingly confident and technically savvy and commercially minded public access bar and, within a couple of years, well capitalized alternative business structures. More
Canberra Court permits Service through Facebook
A master of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory authorized a claim form in a possession action to be served on the mortgagors through the social networking site Facebook under the local rules of civil procedure. This case got a lot of attention particularly in the USA. Could the same thing happen in England and Wales? Click here to find out.
Symposium on Software Patents
Thanks to generous sponsorship by Kirwans, we are able to present our half day seminar on "Software Patents after Symbian and Bilski" for £25 + VAT. Speakers include:
I am already authorized by the SRA to award 2 1/2 hours CPD points to solicitors and I will seek accreditaiton from the BSB for any barrister who wants to attend. Kirwans have also kindly offered to offer wine and light refreshments.
As I explained in my article Software Patents after Symbian and Bilski the decisions of the Court of Appeal in Symbian v Conptroller-General  EWCA Civ 1066 (8 Oct 2008) and of the Federal Circuit in Re Bilski are arguably the most important intellectual property cases om the UK and USA last year. They may not have changed the law much but they have certainly changed perceptions.
The seminar will take place between 14:00 and 17:00 on 5 February at Martin's Building, Water Street, Liverpool L2 3SX. Call 0870 990 5081 or complete our on-line form.
Progress Report on European Patents Court
Since England and Wales is the most expensive jurisdiction in Europe in which to conduct patent litigation, and since the cost of enforcement is an one reason why we trail Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the number of European patent applications, we would have more to gain than most from a European patents court.
Until recently there were two separate initiatives:
These have now joined forces and a draft agreement for an EU Patent Court was proposed on the 4 Nov 2008. In its last report to the Competitiveness Council, the French presidency said that governments had made considerable progress towards reaching consensus but there remained differences on the composition of judicial panels, language, appeals to the ECJ, jurisdiction to decide validity as well as infringement and funding.
An Incredibly Sad Tale: Forrester Ketley v Brent
This case, which began with a claim by a firm of patent attorneys for fees of £4,400 in 2003, spawned 100 pages of pleadings before the Patents Court struck it out in 2003. It then mushroomed into claims against the Crown, the Lord Chancellor, Ministry of Justice, PAMIA, the courts, the patent agents' solicitors and all sorts of other parties in different tribunals including the British government in the European Court of Human Rights. Incredible though this Alice in Wonderland case may sound, it is sadly all too believable to anyone who has ever tried to help private inventors. Read my post on this casein the NIPC Inventors Club blog.
NIPC's New IP and TMT Mediation Service
Probably because of the complexity of the law and the technical nature of much of of the subject matter, mediation is not used to resolve IP disputes anything like as often as it is with other types of commercial dispute. IP disputes need mediators with a background in IP. Unfortunately there are not very many of them and the few that exist are not always suggested either by the mediation service providers or indeed the parties. To put that right NIPC has set up a specialist panel for intellectual property, licensing, media and entertainment and technology disputes. Visit www.nipc-mediation.co.uk for details.
NIPC's New Injunctions Service
Although most types of IP and TMT work suffer in a downturn, there is usually an upsurge in counterfeiting and claims against disaffected former employees. If your client needs an injunction you need to act quickly anywhere in the country including Scotland. Since your are unlikely to recover all your costs yuor service has to be cost-effective. And, of course, your advocates have to be good. That is why we have launched our new injunctions service at www.nipc-injunctions.co.uk.
Chinese Patent Search Service
Chinese business consultant Wei Huang who represents NIPC in China and various Chinese lawyers and patent attorneys in the UK, now provides a patent search service for China. Wei has recently undertaken patent and infirngement searches for a big firm of patent attorneys in South Wales and the West Country and reports that they were very pleased with her work and that they found her fees to be very reasonable. To find out more about Wei and her various services visit www.vtzinternational.com.