Category Archives: courses and training

Reflections on IP transactions course

humperdinkAnother year of our course, Intellectual Property Transactions: Law and Practice, is over. Last Friday at 4 pm, in room LG5 of the graduate wing of the UCL Faculty of Laws, our second group of students completed 29 hours of continuing education over 5 days.

The largest group of students was newly-qualified lawyers working in the IP departments of law firms, but we also had in-house lawyers in industries ranging from whisky to electronics, as well as patent and trade mark attorneys, and technology transfer managers at universities and research charities. A majority of our students were qualified in England, but some were lawyers or patent attorneys from Scotland or further afield, including Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Japan, Switzerland and the USA.

The course is intensive, for both them and for IP Draughts, who was present for most sessions. Over the course of a week we give insights into IP aspects of M&A, R&D agreements, patent and know-how licensing, pharmaceutical industry agreements, software and telecoms contracts and media transactions. As well as discussing IP laws, we have sessions on competition law, insolvency, tax and using IP as security. The course covers a lot of ground in a short space of time!

soapAfter two years of running the course and getting positive feedback from students, we have some grounds for optimism that the course will continue for several years.  Its popularity partly lies in the fact that it meets a need and is unique – one of our overseas students told IP Draughts that she had researched the courses available in several countries, including the USA, and considered it to be the only course of its kind in the World.  (She also explained that she was paying personally to attend the course, which surely focuses the mind when it comes to choosing a course that costs several thousand pounds.) The course’s success depends on a large group of specialist speakers, teaching to a focussed agenda and giving practical insights based on their experience, and the ever-excellent support of Lisa Penfold and her colleagues at the Faculty of Laws.

A few points that occurred to IP Draughts during this year’s course:

  • new sessions on the licensing of TV programmes, run by John Enser and his colleagues from Olswang, provided insights into how the structuring of agreements in the media sector requires an understanding of both the industry and its delivery technologies.  IP Draughts was interested to learn that the technical definitions in agreements in this sector can be just as complex and multi-layered as he has seen in sophisticated agreements in the biotech sector.
  • Choosing which branch of IP law to specialise in may depend as much on your temperament as your technical understanding.  At the risk of making gross generalisations, life sciences practitioners seem to be at one end of a spectrum and media at the other, with IT somewhere in the middle.
  • The drafting of warranty clauses in the M&A sector seems to be much influenced by market practice, sometimes to the detriment of clear and straightforward drafting.  It was interesting to hear the defence of “represents and warrants” and market pressure to maximise potential remedies for breach including remedies in tort, even though speakers could not point to any case where the court had awarded damages for breach of warranty using the basis of calculation used in tort cases.  This led on to a interesting discussion of the different approaches taken in the negotiation of terms in “one-off” transactions such as M&A (hard-edged), compared with agreements where the parties are to work together over an extended period, such as R&D and licence agreements (more cooperative).
  • qcone of our speakers, Michael Fealy, became a QC (Queen’s Counsel) during the week of the course – congratulations to him!  IP Draughts is uncertain whether to claim that speaking on the course improves your career, or that he has chosen the highest-calibre speakers for the course, or both.

Now IP Draughts has to write the exam questions and work out whether and how we can enable people from overseas to take the exam remotely.

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Calling Australia and New Zealand

australasiaIP Draughts has noticed a steady increase in page viewings from both Australia and New Zealand in the last year, which is great. After a slow start, Australia is fast catching up with Canada to become third in the table of countries whose inhabitants visit this blog, while much less populous New Zealand is in 15th place.

He is planning to visit those countries early in 2015, to visit relatives, and is considering whether to run some of his courses on IP and contract subjects, perhaps in association with universities.  Do our Australian and New Zealand readers think there would be any appetite for such courses?  Please let Mark know by email at or by phone on +44 1865 858 878.

Equally, if you think there might be an appetite for courses in any other country, please let Mark know.  The furthest distances from the UK that he has provided training so far have been Chicago (3,900 miles) and Lagos (3,100 miles), but Melbourne (10,500 miles) or Dunedin (11,900 miles) would set new records!

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New speakers for IP transactions course

all starIP Draughts has been busy arranging some new speakers for the UCL IP transactions course (brochure can be downloaded here) which will be run again at the Faculty of Laws from 17-21 February 2014.

This 5-day course requires a large number of speakers – in the region of 25.  Most of our excellent speakers are the same as last year, as the content of the course is largely unchanged.  But inevitably some new volunteers are needed to replace people who are conflicted, or to cover new sessions that we have introduced to refresh the mix of topics.

New speakers for next year include:

  • Nigel Jones and Kathy Berry of Linklaters, who will be running a half-day optional stream on using IP as security [NEW SESSIONS]
  • Tim Worden of Taylor Wessing, who will be speaking on IP warranties in M&A [NEW SESSION]
  • Philip Wareham of Hill Dickinson, who will be speaking on competition law issues in IP agreements.  Philip is one of the authors of the Encyclopedia of Competition Law, and is a former colleague of IP Draughts from Bristows days [NEW SPEAKER]
  • John Enser and his team from Olswang, who will be running the half-day on media transactions [NEW SPEAKERS]
  • Geoffrey Kay of Baker & McKenzie, who will be standing in for Michelle Blunt while she is on maternity leave, and will speak on practical tax issues in IP agreements [NEW SPEAKER]
  • Judith Schallnau of WIPO’s legal department, who will be talking on dispute resolution in IP agreements [REVISED SESSION]
  • Stephen Brett of Anderson Law LLP, and a former head of the legal department at Oxford University’s technology transfer company, Isis Innovation.  Stephen will be talking on the subject of what makes IP contracts with universities different to B2B agreements. [NEW SPEAKER]
  • Jeff Skinner of London Business School, and a former Commercial Director of UCL, who will be giving a talk titled Dirty Little Tricks in Licensing [NEW SESSION]
  • Sahar Hashemi OBE, who is a former solicitor at Frere Cholmeley.  In the 1990s she left that firm to found the Coffee Republic chain of coffee shops with her brother.  She is now a very popular speaker at business conferences.  Sahar will be speaking on the subject of understanding the needs of the entrepreneurial client [NEW SESSION]

play it againThese speakers are in addition to our existing, stellar line-up which includes partners from Ashurst, Bird & Bird, Bristows, Eversheds and Pinsents.

We have over 30 firm bookings for the course, which is a good number, but we would like to get it closer to 40.  If you are considering whether to book on the course, please let Mark know as soon as possible.

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Drafting clinical trial agreements

management forumLast week, IP Draughts participated in Management Forum’s 30th anniversary conference, Promoting Synergies Across Life Sciences by giving his all-day course on Drafting and Negotiating Clinical Trial Agreements.  His colleagues Paul and Mario were there too, giving a presentation on confidentiality agreements, which seemed to be going well when IP Draughts briefly attended.

IP Draughts enjoys speaking at Management Forum events, mainly because their representatives are a pleasure to work with.

bendallIP Draughts runs this course as a double act with the excellent Christine Bendall, who is now a regulatory consultant in the pharmaceutical sector, but earlier in her career was an IP lawyer and a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna.  Christine is also a speaker on the UCL IP transactions course and she has advised some of IP Draughts’ clients on regulatory matters.

Drafting and negotiation points from the course include:

  • Clinical trial agreements are essentially technical services agreements.  Industry practice affects their terms, but what makes them unique is the regulatory framework for products that will be administered to humans.
  • The regulations vary, depending on the product, its applications, where the trials are taking place and where the eventual product will be marketed.  Careful thought needs to be given to whether the agreement has the right terms to reflect the particular mix of regulations that apply in the individual case.  It will generally not be sufficient to pull a generic template agreement from the computer and expect it to “work” in an individual case.  The drafter should work with regulatory colleagues to ensure that the agreement is suitable tailored.
  • As well as life sciences regulation, these agreements often include terms dealing with other aspects of regulatory compliance, eg data protection, freedom of information, and bribery.  Agreements with international sponsors often ask the trial site to comply with overseas laws with which they are unlikely to be familiar, and which may not be strictly relevant, eg the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the US Sunshine Act.
  • In the UK, most trials in NHS hospitals are conducted under one of the NHS standard clinical trial agreements.  Unfortunately, those agreements are not well drafted and they include some bizarre terms, eg a limit of liability for wilful default of twice the contract price.  Some other countries have “standard” agreements but the extent to which they are used in practice varies.
  • Clinical trial agreements raise basic contract issues such as who will the parties be (eg the investigator or their employer) as well more sophisticated points such as indemnities, publication rights, and intellectual property ownership and use.
Before the days of pharmaceutical regulation...

Before the days of pharmaceutical regulation…

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