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Put the dates in your diary (please): 4 & 16 September

courseThe first event in IP Draughts’ Summer and Autumn programme of courses took place earlier this week – Drafting Legal Clauses in Commercial Contracts. This course has been running in different formats for over 15 years.

The next events, subject to bookings, will be:

4 September – Contract Drafting: an Advanced-Level Workshop

16 September – Intellectual Property Licensing: an Advanced-Level Drafting Workshop

Further details on these events, which are held in central London, can be found here.

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181-year-old corpse of Jeremy Bentham attends UCL board meeting

Mark Anderson:

Add spice (or at least embalming fluid) to your Board meeting. Invite Jeremy Bentham!

Originally posted on Metro:

JB_CollegeCouncil_0145  Tuesday 9th July marked the day that the retiring Provost of UCL, Sir Malcolm Grant, attended his last ever Council meeting. We at UCL Museums thought we would mark this by doing something a little bit different¿  Most people know that Jeremy Bentham, the spiritual founder of UCL, attends every UCL council meeting. He is always recorded as 'present but not voting', except when the council is split on a motion. On those rare occasions he gets a vote, and always votes in favour of the motion, due to his mischievous personality.   It's a brilliant story, it has everything. A dead body, academic eccentricity reanimation of a corpse, ancient tradition¿what's not to love? Except unfortunately it's a myth. One of the many legends that have built up around the 'old radical' that I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed.  There is the possibility that the auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham attended council meetings to mark the centenary and (150???) anniversaries of the founding of UCL (1926 and 1976 respectivly). I say possibility because even though it is given as fact by several sources, including Wikipedia, there is no proof in the archive of documents relating to the auto-icon. My rule of thumb with all the Bentham myths is that I'll try not to pass on a 'fact' until there at least 3 independent sources supporting it. I know this probably sounds quite harsh, it's not an academic journal after all, but there are SO MANY stories built up around him and they are SO GOOD that I want to be sure before I pass anything on. For instance have you heard his real head was stolen and found in a left luggage locker in Aberdeen? Apparently the Professor who allegedly went to retrieve the head swears blind it didn't happen.  Anyway, given the end of the Provosts ten year stint at UCL, and the fact it was upsetting seeing the disappointed looks on visitors faces when asked if the story was true, UCL Museums decided to make myth a reality. And not only that we would take lots of pictures and make sure that it was definitely recorded in our archives for future generations.   One of the main reasons that we don't get the auto-icon out that often, except to clean or inspect, is that its not an easy job. It takes 3 people to get him out of his inner box (he's in two of them) and, as he's bolted to his chair, he has to be moved in one go. This involves two people carrying his chair and body, while a third holds onto his feet to try to keep them still. His makers used copper wire and jointed hinges to keep the skeleton together, which means in theory he could move his body like a living person. In practice this means that his feet want to stay on the ground or, if held high enough, dangle off his chair and kick in the air. An absolute nightmare when you are trying to move him delicately.   Another reason why we try not to move him is the fear of pests getting onto him and his clothes, eating away at him and causing huge damage. His undershirt was destroyed in this way in xxxx, the one he wears now was donated by xxxx, and the records show that he has been treated twice for infestation since the 1980's. When you look at his clothes its clear to see small holes and areas of grazing, caused by pests. Moving him around food and people is just asking for trouble. Infact the first thing I did as soon as we got him safely into the council chamber was hover the floor, to try get rid of any bugs or beats. Not all glamour this job.  Once he was safely in the room and the floor hovered he was placed on a plastozote, a foam like substance, and acid free tissue. This was to keep him from touching the floor and hopefully keep bugs away.   We placed him at the far end of the room, away from the door and in an area where people were least likely to brush past him as the moved around. One of the senior members of staff had agreed to act as his body guard for the meeting, and so was sat next to him. The door to the council chamber was slightly open and it was great fun to watch people walking past and doing a double take.  After an hour or so sitting with the corpse of the 83 year old the members of the Council started arriving. The attendees seemed to fall into three groups. Those who knew about it before walked into the room scanning the faces of everyone sat down until spotting him, stopped briefly and laughed. The second group were people who had no idea that it would be happening. They walked into the room, usually made it to their seats and then looked about before spotting him (it was probably his hat which gave him away), looked surprised and usually asked if it was really him before laughing. Both these groups then pulled out their phones and took pictures. The final group consisted of people who walked in, dropped their stuff off at their desk, went for a coffee and then sat down at their desk without seeing him. I have to say that most of the students representatives feel into this category.  With everyone there I passed responsibility for his welfare over to his bodyguard, and left the room. The meeting lasted for well over three hours and I'm sure there was a lot of questions addressed to Jeremy during it¿  Now that we have done this there are no plans to move him again in the near future. All I need to do now is update our documentation and archive, and our web pages, plus our recent news, oh and Wikipedia¿

Point of order: The late Jeremy Bentham joins the farewell committee meeting (Picture: UCL)

Many board meetings are so tedious that members often end up looking like waxwork dummies.

But at this gathering, the well-dressed gentleman in the corner can be forgiven for looking a little out of it – Jeremy Bentham died 181 years ago.

The ‘spiritual founder’ of University College London can usually be found in a cabinet in a university corridor.

But he was moved earlier this week to mark the last council meeting attended by retiring provost Sir Malcolm Grant.

Old radical: Bentham is bolted to his chair (Picture: UCL)

Old radical: Bentham is bolted to his chair (Picture: UCL)

Bentham, a philosopher regarded as the founder of utilitarianism, requested that his skeleton should be preserved and dressed in his own clothes.

One of the many myths surrounding him is that he attends every UCL council meeting and is always recorded as ‘present but not voting’.

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Mark Anderson:

Breaching client confidentiality on a train: a scale of 1 to 10

Originally posted on The Bizzle:

Tom Kilroy blogged recently about how lawyers working on the train may be committing serious breaches of confidentiality. For the his pains, he has been called, on the Roll On Friday discussion board and elsewhere, “a prig”, “an utter nob”, “a pompous arse”, and “a keeno teedfest” (this last from a partner at the prestigious firm of Beiber and Bieber, apparently). 

Now, I’m completely with Tom on this, if only because the constant tippy-tapping of laptop keyboards and self-important BB yapping irritates me almost to the point of homicide. But it is clear that a more nuanced approach is required to head off accusations of over-reaction and priggishness. 

I have therefore gathered together a team of the finest intellects in the country (myself, Mrs Bizzle, and the cat) to consider this vexed question. After a week of hard thought and intense debate, we are delighted to present the Kilroy Scale.


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A postscript on the importance of employee assignments

Remember the US case of Stanford v Roche?  Judgment was handed down by the US Supreme Court on 6 June this year and there has been a chorus of comment, including by IP Draughts himself here and by the all knowing IPKat here and here.  The judgment itself is here.

You will recall that argument concerned the scope of the Bayh-Dole Act.  Stanford argued that because some of the research that led to the invention was funded by the NIH (a Federal agency), Stanford could claim rights over the invention.  But the case also considered the precise wording and effect of two different agreements.  The first agreement to be signed was between an academic and Stanford, his university employer.  It recorded that the academic “agrees to assign” his inventions to Stanford.  The second agreement to be signed was between the same academic and a pharmaceutical company (the company was Cetus which was subsequently acquired by Roche) with whom he was collaborating in research.  It stated that the academic “will assign and does hereby assign” his inventions to the company.

The Court held that the second agreement took precedence.  It was an effective and present assignment whereas the first agreement, although earlier in time, was only an incomplete agreement to assign in the future.  The invention had been assigned to Roche.  Bayh-Dole could not be said to apply.  The lesson learned was to be careful of how obligations to assign are drafted.  Avoid agreements to assign and instead actually draft an assignment.

Attending a talk given by a US attorney (Sam Webb of Stoel Rives) yesterday, I was reminded that American patent law is currently being shaken up as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act passes into law.  Much of the Act is directed at reforming the patenting process in the US.

A good shake…

Section 4 of the Act caught my eye.  Currently, a US patent application needs to be filed by the inventor.  Section 4 changes this and permits patent applications to be filed not only by the inventor but also by “any person to whom the inventor has assigned or is obliged to assign the invention”.  A useful change because it means that US institutions have an alternative open to them where recalcitrant or unavailable inventors cannot or will not sign the necessary paperwork.

But consider that change in the light of the facts of the Stanford v Roche case.  If Section 4 had been in force, Stanford might have argued that because the earlier agreement obliged the academic to assign his inventions to Stanford, Stanford was entitled to file an application itself.  The implication being that the first agreement might have been sufficient to pass ownership to Stanford.  Which could turn the Supreme Court’s decision on its head….

Perhaps there is still hope for US universities that have employment contracts in place obliging their academic to assign inventions (in the future tense) rather than actually effecting an assignment (in the present tense)?  Of course, this is speculation and does not alter the position in the UK (or indeed in the US!).  Those of us in the UK still need to ensure that our assignments are properly drafted.  Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if anybody in the US argues the point.

Is there a US qualified reader out there who has a view on this?

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