Learning legal stuff

IP Draughts is rebooting after a stimulating but exhausting week. He has been teaching, chairing, encouraging, filling in, deciding, answering questions and generally being present at the UCL one-week course on IP transactions. It is the 7th year that we have run the course. We had a good bunch of engaged students, an experienced team of expert speakers, and excellent support as usual from Lisa Penfold and her colleagues at UCL Laws. Plus a modern, well-designed venue in the revamped law faculty. It all added up to a very good outing of the course.

Thanks are due to several of IP Draughts’ colleagues, who helped with the course. Our associate Christopher Pollard did sterling work ahead of the course, encouraging the speakers to provide their updated materials and getting those papers organised for Lisa. Our newest employee, Christina, provided administrative support throughout the week. IP Draughts’ partners Paul and Stephen delivered a couple of the talks, during the Wednesday afternoon stream on university IP. And another of IP Draughts’ partners has kindly agreed to help with marking the exam.

IP Draughts will provide an update when the feedback is collated and assessed. He has still to write this year’s exam.


It is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that people who know about our firm are familiar with everything that we do. We have written several books that are relevant to IP transactions, or to commercial transactions generally. Here is a quick recap.

Technology Transfer is the first book that IP Draughts wrote. The first edition was started when IP Draughts was still at Bristows, and he received some research support from juniors in the firm. Two of those juniors stand out for their dedication to the project. Take a bow, Helen Cline, now a legal director at Pinsent Mason, who researched case law on the interpretation of IP agreements, and Laura Reynolds, who is of Counsel at Bristows.

The £1,000 advance that he received for this book was spent on an early laptop computer, that had a half-sized screen – conventionally wide but only half as tall. He typed the book on that computer. In his eagerness to use its facilities he password protected the first chapter, only to forget the password and have to write most of that chapter again. Duh! The fourth edition of this book will be published later this year.

Drafting and Negotiating Commercial Contracts. This book was written with the objective of explaining some basic principles for commercial contract drafting, to help the junior lawyer or commercial manager. As well as setting out some simple ideas for clear drafting, it discusses the typical formats of contracts, words with a special meaning, how the courts interpret contracts, and similar practical subjects. It is now in its fourth edition.

A-Z Guide to Boilerplate and Commercial Clauses. This book started life as a short volume of the Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents. It was reorganised and expanded as a book. When Butterworths sold off most of its books, this and the above two books moved eventually to Bloomsbury Professional. Now in its fourth edition, it has grown in length to become the longest of IP Draughts’ books now in publication, and probably the most popular (he hasn’t counted exact numbers of purchases). The book examines the detailed law and practice around a large number of boilerplate clauses, and provides examples of typical wording.

Drafting Confidentiality Agreements was conceived as a book that should have a broad appeal, not only to IP lawyers. IP Draughts thought the Law Society would be a suitable outlet for the book, as it has contacts with the (English and Welsh) solicitors’ profession. While the book has provided moderately popular and we keep being asked to write new editions (it is currently in its third), it has not taken off in the way that IP Draughts hoped. The book includes both a summary of the law and a detailed review of the clauses that are typically encountered in CDAs. We also include some template agreements for a variety of situations.

Execution of Documents. Around the time that Drafting Confidentiality Agreements was first published, we had regular conversations with publishing managers at the Law Society. During one of those conversations, IP Draughts foolishly commented on what he saw as the defects in a book that they published called, from memory Oaths and Affidavits. We could write a much better book than this, and broaden its appeal by covering a wider range of documents, he said. Of course, this prompted the publishing manager to invite him to do so. The book explains the legal requirements for executing various documents including deeds, and gives examples of wording. It is now in its third edition.

Drafting Agreements in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries was commissioned by Oxford University Press in about 2006, and was first published in about 2008. The fee was large enough for IP Draughts to hire a full-time research assistant for a year to work on the book. Brendan Biggs, formerly an English don at Oxford, was then hoping to requalify as a solicitor. He did excellent work on this project. He is now a professional support lawyer at a leading firm in Bristol.

This book was structured as a looseleaf, and its main content was over 30 template agreements with commentary, including brief comments from lawyers in six other jurisdictions. It was popular within a niche market. Unfortunately the market was too niche. We wrote updates for it for about 10 years. After several years, OUP wanted to turn it into a small textbook, which didn’t make sense to IP Draughts, and eventually he recovered the rights tot he book. Since then it has sat on IP Draughts’ shelf as a project that he doesn’t quite know what to do with. It has provided us with excellent template agreements.

Technology Transactions. As well as the above books, IP Draughts and his colleagues have written several new volumes of the Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents, published by LexisNexis, and chapters in other people’s books. The most recent chapter was in a book edited by Professor Jacques de Werra of the University of Geneva, Technology Transactions. It was recently reviewed on IPKat here. In his chapter, IP Draughts argues for the development of a UN standard for IP transactions, analogous to the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

In all of his books, volumes and chapters, IP Draughts has tried to combine simple, clear explanations of practical subjects with legal accuracy and thoroughness. As he tries to do when advising clients.

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Filed under Book review, courses and training

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