Category Archives: News

Slim pickings for IP in the New Year Honours

downing streetGovernments claim to be interested in intellectual property, but their interest in sporadic. Sometimes, the interest is aligned with a greater commercial or political interest, such as protecting and promoting the national economy. This blog never tires of praising the Prime Minister, David Cameron, for personally negotiating to have the UK as the location for the life science part of the central division of the unified patent court. This is a rare example of political capital being used at the highest level to further an IP-related national interest.

At other times, the UK Government’s interest in IP seems all fur coat and no drawers. Every New Year’s Day, the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, makes awards to people who have contributed to Britain. Sometimes, a few people from the IP world are honoured.

In passing, we should recognise that not everyone thinks the honours system has merit. For some, it smacks of an outdated, cosy, “establishment” view of the world. Others dislike the hierarchical nature of the awards, with knighthoods for the toffs, and the lowly British Empire Medal for salf-of-the-earth types. There is a feeling that it honours mainly civil servants, donors of cash to bennettpolitical parties, and celebrities, none of whom “deserves” an award. Yet the system continues to be popular. In the words of the UK playwright and national treasure, Alan Bennett, in his play, An Englishman Abroad, “In England, you only have to be able to eat a boiled egg at ninety, and they think you deserve the Nobel Prize.” This quote, though it uses the example of a private, Scandinavian honour, sums up both the enthusiasm and the scepticism that Britons variously feel about the honours system.

The 2015 New Year’s Honours List names 1,164 award recipients. Searching the list for IP-related words sometimes reveals a clutch of interesting names. This year the pickings are slim.

A search of “intellectual property” produces just one name, Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the wind-up radio in the 1990s, and more recently the founder of a company that provides services to small-scale inventors. He received an award in 1997 and might not have expected another, classier one, in 2015. Is it impertinent of IP Draughts to mention that Mr Baylis is now aged 77?

Searches using terms such as “patent”, “copyright” and “technology” revealed nothing that caught IP Draughts’ eye.

Two other names in this year’s list attracted IP Draughts’ attention, though the awards were probably not IP-related. The first is the award of an MBE to Ralph Antony Smith for legal services to the British Embassy in Madrid, Spain. IP Draughts assumes this is the Ralph Smith with whom IP Draughts worked at Bristows over 20 years ago, and who now works in Spain; if so, congratulations Ralph! The citation doesn’t state whether the legal services provided to the embassy concern IP.

The second name that IP Draughts spotted was that of Philip Wood, formerly a prominent banking partner at the major London law firm, Allen & Overy, who receives a CBE. IP Draughts recalls seeing, in the late 1980s, a copy of an internal Allen & Overy document, prepared by Philip Wood, that provided drafting notes on a wide range of contract clauses. The notes were well ahead of their time (nothing like them existed then at Bristows), and helped to inspire IP Draughts to write several books on contract drafting issues.

Readers, have we missed anyone in this year’s list who should be mentioned?

Happy New Year, everyone!



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UK transactional IP lawyers 2013 – the IP Draughts table

top leagueFor the third year running, we offer the IP Draughts league table of UK transactional IP lawyers.  This table is based on a very simple premise: make a list of the people who are ranked in both of the following two tables:

  1. IAM Patent 1000’s current list of UK patent licensing lawyers; and
  2. Chambers Directory’s current list (published today; click on “ranked lawyers” and scroll down to “transactional”) of UK transactional life sciences lawyers.

Inevitably there is an arbitrary element in any list of this kind, and it misses out some fine IP lawyers that IP Draughts respects.  But it does include most of the people that IP Draughts would regard as leading IP transactional lawyers in the UK, and it has the merit that two sets of researchers have independently identified these individuals as specialists.

In alphabetical order, this year’s list is as follows:

Laura Anderson (Bristows LLP)

Mark Anderson (Anderson Law LLP)

Malcolm Bates (Taylor Wessing LLP)

Richard Binns (Simmons & Simmons LLP)

Allistair Booth (Pinsent Masons LLP)

Patrick Duxbury (Wragge & Co LLP)

Jim Ford (Allen & Overy LLP)

Michael Gavey (Simmons & Simmons LLP)

Sarah Hanson (CMS Cameron McKenna LLP)

Gary Howes (Fasken Martineau LLP)

Colleen Keck (Allen & Overy LLP)

Mark Lubbock (Ashurst LLP)

Nicola Maguire (Reed Smith LLP)

Daniel Pavin (Covington & Burling LLP)

Stephen M Reese (Olswang)

Chris Shelley (Penningtons Manches LLP)

Sally Shorthose (Bird & Bird LLP)

John Wilkinson (Reed Smith LLP)

making listsA couple of names have dropped out since last year, probably due to changes in personal circumstances.  There are no new names compared with last year.

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RIP David Jacobs

david jacobsBritish newspapers, TV and radio programmes are full of stories about the recent deaths of two famous broadcasters called David.

The first, David Frost, had international renown for his interviews with ex-President Nixon in 1977.  The second, David Jacobs, is less well known internationally, but in the UK he had a very long career that covered many of the iconic, popular TV programmes of the last 50 years.  At various times, he presented Juke Box Jury, Top of the Pops, the Eurovision Song Contest, Miss World, and Come Dancing.

On the radio he presented many music programmes and also, for about 15 years, the political panel programme, Any Questions? The programme is still running in 2013 under the chairmanship of Jonathan Dimbleby.

IP Draughts once asked a question on Any Questions?, during Jacobs’ chairmanship of the show.  The programme was being broadcast, in about 1981, from Durham University, where IP Draughts was an undergraduate.  The audience were required to be in their seats 90 minutes before the show was broadcast live. As we trooped in, we were invited to write down questions on cards.  IP Draughts wrote down 5 questions and one was selected.  He was one of about 6 students whose questions were selected.

Before the show started, there was a warm-up session, in which the producer told some stories and jokes and interacted with the audience.  At one point, IP Draughts heard himself shouting out “heard it” as the producer began to tell an elaborate joke.  Inevitably, perhaps, the producer challenged IP Draughts to come to the front and tell the joke himself.

The joke, or allegedly true story, is about the student who was asked how to measure the height of a building using a barometer.  It has its own Wikipedia page here.  IP Draughts had read it in a book of stories that he had received as a Christmas present the year before, and could just about remember the various alternative methods of measuring the building’s height.

When, an hour or so after telling the story, IP Draughts was invited to ask a question on the programme, the audience reaction was perhaps a little stronger than it might otherwise have been.  His question was whether a system of student loans should be introduced.  In 1981, when the programme was broadcast, this was merely a controversial proposal in the UK, and it was not implemented until 1990.

The volume of noise from some members of the audience shouting “no!” in response to IP Draughts’ question appeared to startle David Jacobs, who repeated the question with a comment: “[IP Draughts], who clearly hasn’t brought his fan club with him this evening, asks…”  For some people, and at that time, it seemed that it was an unforgivable heresy even to ask the question.

This is the only occasion on which IP Draughts has spoken on live national radio or TV, and it will probably be the last!

any questionsIP Draughts was reminded of this incident today, when he heard the re-broadasting of another incident from Any Questions? during Jacobs’ reign.  In one episode, it seems that the live proceedings were held up for 10 minutes by protestors who shouted complaints about the presence of Enoch Powell, a right wing politician, on the show.  Ah, the heady days of protest during the early days of Mrs Thatcher!

After the programme, panelists and questioners were invited for drinks with the producer.  While he waited for the taxi that would take him to the railway station for his train back to London, David Jacobs was very friendly and courteous to the assembled students.

He left behind him a memory of someone with great facility and charm, and considerable competence at handling a live audience.

RIP David Jacobs.

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Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer

calton hillApologies for the lack of a posting last week.  IP Draughts and the Draughtatrix were enjoying themselves at the Edinburgh Festival.

The various festivals that go under the collective name Edinburgh Festival (including Festival proper, Fringe and Book Festival) are in full swing for the next few days.  Worth a trip.

IP Draughts recommends:

  • the Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer – a one-man play, set in the 18th century, about a failing Glasgow lawyer who is trying to marry off his humourless daughter and escape the clutches of a local businessman – very funny.
  • the Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony – a gripping, edge-of-the seat performance, completely engrossing.
  • the Best of Edinburgh Showcase Show – a taster menu of comedians performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Of the comedians who performed when we visited this show, IP Draughts particularly enjoyed Joe Bor in his character as Jasper Cromwell Jones.
  • Calistoga – a Californian restaurant in a sleazy backstreet of central Edinburgh. Good value for excellent steaks and Californian wine.
  • A walk up Calton Hill – a very steep walk up to the top, but great views of the City when you get there.

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