Potential UN convention on IP licensing

In 2 weeks’ time, IP Draughts will be going to Geneva. The University of Geneva has invited him to give a presentation on IP licensing, as part of an all-day conference on technology transactions, which is jointly sponsored by the university and by LES Switzerland.

Since accepting the invitation, he has learnt that the morning séance is being conducted in English, and the afternoon in French. Thankfully, IP Draughts has been allocated to the morning session. His GCSE French (grade A) is not really up to debating implied terms in licensing transactions. Froggy Hunter (his French teacher; were nicknames ever politically correct?) could have provided language training on this subject, but for some reason it didn’t seem to be a priority in the 1970s classroom. There was more of a focus on not pronouncing faim as femme.

IP Draughts’ talk will propose that the United Nations should develop an international convention on IP licensing, perhaps drawing on some of the approach taken in its existing convention on the international sale of goods. The talk will draw attention to some of the problems with international IP licensing, including:

  • different legal systems approaching the interpretation of licence agreements in different ways, with some countries having limited experience of the subject.
  • different approaches to negotiation and the preparation of agreements in different countries.
  • the use of template agreements of varying drafting quality.

The talk will cite the example of the English High Court case of Unwired Planet v Huawei, where the court scrutinised the terms of a licence agreement between a US company and a Chinese company.
Finally, the talk will mention some areas that the convention might cover, including general principles of interpretation, implied terms, and perhaps even a model agreement.

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Filed under Legal policy, Licensing

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