The IPKat retires: IP Draughts reflects

jeremy phillipsProfessor Jeremy Phillips has retired. He is best known today for the IPKat blog on intellectual property (IP) issues, which he established in 2003. IPKat has approximately 12,000 subscribers and has been viewed over 16 million times. 16 million! – an astonishing level of popularity for a blog on a specialist topic. From conversations over several years, IP Draughts knows that many (most? all?) specialist IP lawyers in the UK are regular readers of IPKat.

IP Draughts has known Jeremy for nearly 35 years. Their first encounter was in about 1980 or 1981, when IP Draughts was an undergraduate law student, and Jeremy a law lecturer, at the University of Durham. IP Draughts signed up to Jeremy’s course on commercial law. Early in the course, perhaps on the first day, Jeremy explained to the class that he had wanted to run a course on IP law, but this had been considered too radical by the faculty. (At the time, very few degree courses on IP law existed in the UK.) Instead, he was allowed to run a course on commercial law. After an amuse bouche on the Sale of Goods Act and similar core texts on commercial law, the lectures quickly moved on to the main course: fascinating discussions about cases involving trade marks and other types of IP. IP is, after all, a branch of commercial law.

IP Draughts has two memories of Jeremy in those days. First, his great enthusiasm for IP law, combined with a gentle, encouraging manner, which helped to make the subject interesting and enjoyable to his students. These qualities have remained constant throughout the last 35 years. Secondly (and I hope he will forgive a personal note), IP Draughts has a strong memory of how young he looked. Jeremy has continued to look younger than his real age throughout his adult life, but the contrast is not as great now as it then was.

NewKatSome people are close friends, while others are friendly, completely-trusted acquaintances. IP Draughts would place his relationship with Jeremy in the latter category. They have had professional contact over several decades. No doubt hundreds of Jeremy’s former students could claim a similar connection. At various times throughout IP Draughts’ career, Jeremy has been there as a fixed point in a changing world. Some highlights for IP Draughts include when Jeremy:

  • first commissioned an article from IP Draughts (for Patent World in 1990). This was the first serious article that IP Draughts wrote. It was on the subject of applying real property laws to IP transactions. This experience helped to jump-start an interest that resulted in IP Draughts writing several legal textbooks and articles in the last 25 years.
  • in recent years, commissioned several articles and book reviews from IP Draughts for the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice.
  • two years ago, invited IP Draughts to speak at an evening talk on the difference between a licence and covenant not to sue. An associated blog article received a large number of comments, and led to an invitation to write an amicus curiae brief in a US Supreme Court case.

Capping all of these intermittent memories has been Jeremy’s support for IP Draughts’ blog, which he has done by frequently linking to it on IPKat. In an interview with a magazine a few years ago, Jeremy was asked to name his favourite blog. Excluding those he was actively involved with, he identified the IP Draughts blog. His reasons? How could IP Draughts forget this pithy, forensic, and balanced summary:

It is pedantic, smug, practical and generally right.

Jeremy has touched many people’s lives and he continues to do so. He has made a major contribution to the world of IP law. IP Draughts hopes that Jeremy enjoys his retirement, and that he will continue to provide wise counsel to the IP world as and when time permits.


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