Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year Honours

"Please keep your head still"

From an initial scan, this year’s UK New Year Honours List appears to include very few people from the world of intellectual property – fewer than usual.  IP Draughts congratulates the following people, whose breadth of expertise has brought them into contact with IP contracts, but whose central focus and distinction lie elsewhere:

  • Professor Mark Pepys FRS, of University College London, who has been knighted.  Among his many other distinctions, Sir Mark is the founder of Pentraxin Therapeutics Limited, which holds the intellectual property of his research group and which has a major contract with GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, who has also been knighted.
  • Nigel Eastaway, a tax partner at giant accountancy firm BDO, who has received an OBE (Order of the British Empire).  Nigel Eastaway’s connection with IP is that he is one of the authors of the leading UK textbook on the taxation of IP, Intellectual Property Law and Taxation, which is now in its 7th edition.

Have we missed anyone?

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New Year Resolutions

First, we should record our thanks to Brian Rogers, a US attorney, whose blog theContractsGuy has provided a very kind critique of IP Draughts’ postings during 2011.  Quite apart from this welcome review, you should certainly check out Brian’s blog if you are interested in lively commentary on contract and business law issues from a US perspective.

Brian’s article provided a boost to yesterday’s readership of IP Draughts, increasing the number of hits on our site by about 150-200.  Similar increases have occurred when other friendly blogs have mentioned us, particularly IPKat and Ken Adam’s blog at Koncision.  Our thanks (and respect) to all of them.

Here are some of the things that we plan to do during 2012:

  1. More of the same.  We plan to continue writing blog articles on contract drafting, intellectual property and business law issues.  As theContractsGuy has highlighted, IP Draughts is a team effort, with articles by Stephen, Victor and Paul attracting public attention, and Mark hopes that his colleagues will be encouraged to write more frequently during 2012.  For instance, our readership in Australia was boosted by two articles, one by Stephen and one in response by Paul, on the subject of universities offering “easy access IP”.
  2. Training courses.  As this recent article mentioned, we will be running a series of contract drafting courses during 2012.  This is in addition to talks we are giving for other organisations.  In January, Mark will be running seminars in London on R&D agreements and on technology licensing, respectively, for Management Forum, and later in the month will be travelling to Leuven, Belgium, to help ASTP to run two training courses for university technology transfer managers.
  3. Postgraduate diploma in IP transactions.  As we have previously mentioned, we hope to put our experience of running short courses, writing textbooks, and practising law in the field of IP transactions to good use, by setting up and running a more in-depth, university course on IP transactions.  We are continuing to have very positive discussions with a leading UK law faculty about this proposal, but formal progress is slower than Mark would have liked.  We hope that all the people who have generously indicated an interest in teaching on the course will not be put off by the lack of progress.  As soon as we have a more concrete plan of action (and timetable!), we hope to organise a meeting of interested people to discuss how best to structure and deliver the course.  Please bear with us.
  4. Free review of template agreements.  Anderson Law LLP will be offering a limited number of free reviews of organisations’ template agreements during 2012.  This will be targeted at universities and high-tech companies based in the UK, although we may extend the service to overseas clients.  Details will follow in the next few weeks.
  5. New editions of our books.  We are currently working on new editions of several of our publications, including:

Mark has also written a chapter on patent licensing in a forthcoming, multi-author, international work, A Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Licensing (edited by Professor Jacques de Werra of the University of Geneva, and to be published soon (?) by Edward Elgar Publishing).

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Review of our year; our 150th posting!

At this indulgent time of year, please allow us to stray outside this blog’s primary subjects of IP and contracts, and mention some highlights of our firm’s year.

The biggest highlight (leaving aside starting IP Draughts!) was converting Anderson & Company to Anderson Law LLP and admitting Paul as a partner, after 17 years of unincorporated sole practice.

January – AnnMarie Humphries joins us as our 5th trainee.  She is an engineering graduate, and previously spent 9 years as a manager at Unilever.

February – Stephen Brett joins us as a full-time consultant.  He spent 5 years as the senior, in-house lawyer at Isis Innovation, the technology transfer company of Oxford University. Stephen has law degrees from Oxford University and Queen Mary, University of London, and qualified as a solicitor in 1997.

March - IP Draughts is born!

April – Plenty of behind-the-scenes work this month, preparing for conversion to an LLP, choosing a new document management system, and devising training courses.  On the client front, we are involved in a business transaction involving parties in Switzerland, Kenya and other countries.   We are shortlisted for Finance Monthly’s award, Life Sciences Law Firm of the Year – England, and in May we are crowned with this title.

May - Mark Anderson attends the WIPO Mediation Course in Geneva.  Next year’s course details can be found here.  Mark thoroughly recommends both this course and the companion WIPO course on arbitration of IP-related disputes, which he attended a couple of years ago.

June – Anderson & Company ceases to exist, and in its place comes Anderson Law LLPPaul Maclennan joins Mark Anderson as a partner (member) in the new firm.

July - Mark, Paul, Stephen and Lisa provide training on a 3-day course on business law for entrepreneurs.  The course is designed by us and run by University College London.

August – Our associate, Lisa Allebone PhD, obtains a distinction in the Oxford University Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice.

September - Our new, document management system, MatterCentre, is installed.  This provides a sophisticated electronic system for organising our files, including incoming and outgoing emails, contracts and other documents, appointments and tasks. We all have to learn a new way of working!  Paul and AnnMarie reviewed over 50 alternative systems before we shortlisted three and finally chose MatterCentre as best suited to our practice.

October – Mark is invited to speak at the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys’ annual Congress, on the subject of advising SMEs on IP.  Tibor Gold’s review of the event in the CIPA Journal (November 2011) describes Mark’s talk thus: “Mark Anderson of Anderson Law set out his views of what SMEs want: education, insights into conventional practice and wise counsel.  He took a bit of a dig at our profession, first by stroking: we are said to have incredibly high technical standards where making a technical mistake is considered a greater sin than giving un-commercial advice; and then striking: we have too limited exposure to commercial activity.  If the cap fits…”

November – A client is so impressed with Paul’s work, and dedication beyond the call of duty, that he instructs him to charge double the usual rate for time spent in some late night telephone calls.  As far as we can recall, this instruction is a first for our firmother clients please note!

December – Mark successfully concludes some negotiations that he has been leading for several monthsthe renegotiation of a significant IP licence agreement between a UK university and a US technology-based company.  Several new projects come in, just before Christmas.

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Jimmy Savile, 5-pin bowling and IP contracts: some points of connection

The recent death of the TV presenter and disk jockey, Sir Jimmy Savile, has prompted several personal memories, which ultimately thread through to the subject of IP contracts.

Back in 1960, my father was working as the manager of the Bellevue Ballrooms in Manchester.  Bellevue boasted the largest ballroom in Europe, and many of the well-known singers of the day gave performances there.  Jimmy Savile was then my father’s main competitor in Manchester, as the manager of the Plaza Ballroom.  I hasten to add that my father was not a disk jockey, but in the pre-Radio Caroline, pre-Top of the Pops era, Jimmy Savile was a venue manager as well as a performer.

At around that time, my father was recruited by the Canadian Thomson Organisation (which subsequently purchased the Times newspaper) to be the manager of a new business venture in Scotland.  The Olympia Ballroom in East Kilbride, featured a Canadian innovation, 5-pin bowling, as well as a ballroom that could accommodate 1,000 people.

East Kilbride's not quite Olympic-sized swimming pool, the Dollan Baths

Regrettably, 5-pin bowling did not catch on in Scotland, although it is apparently still very popular in Canada.  My father moved on to another job with the Thomson Organisation, and we continued to live in East Kilbride during the 1960s.

Meanwhile, in a parallel thread of memory, in the late 1960s a young student called Dan Wright was working at his father’s butcher’s shop in East Kilbride, dealing with the accounts.  He remembers an account in the name of my mother.  He also has memories of the Olympia Ballroom.  Dan Wright’s father was the scoutmaster of the 1st East Kilbride Scout Troup, to which I briefly belonged. As a further point of connection, the Wrights lived in the same street as the Andersons, about four doors away from us.

A wonderful 1972 film, Why Scotland, Why East Kilbride (24 minutes) here, provides a dramatised account of a tour by two businessmen (one English, the other American) of the New Town of East Kilbride.  The film persuades us to set up our businesses in the town.

Four decades later, Dan Wright and I meet for the first time (as far as we know) in Oxfordshire to discuss an IP contract.  Dan is now the CEO of a high-tech company, Heliex Power Limited that is based in East Kilbride and is commercialising technology developed by one of our university clients.  In the course of our conversation, it becomes apparent that we have some amazing points of connection.

Jimmy Savile and IP contracts: not so far apart, after all…

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