Execution of IP assignments as deeds

It is always a mystery to IP Draughts why an old blog article suddenly becomes popular. Whatever the reason, this article is modestly trending, and it is worth another airing. Note: other articles on deeds and IP assignments are available on this site.

IP Draughts

mistakesA recent posting on the Solo IP blog, subsequently reported by IPKat, raised several questions about the valid execution of IP assignments (and specifically trade mark assignments) as deeds.

IP Draughts would like to offer some thoughts on the points raised. As he understands the position under UK laws:

  1. Methods of transfer of ownership of IP. The main method of transfer of ownership of IP is by an assignment.  There are a couple of other methods, mainly automatic transfer to a dead person’s executors, and subequent transfer to a beneficiary in a will or on intestacy. See eg section 24(1) of the Trade Marks Act 1994, and section 30(2) and (3) of the Patents Act 1977.
  2. Formalities for assignment. Assignments of UK intellectual property must be in writing, and executed by the assignor. See eg section 24(3) of TMA 1994. Unlike the position under some…

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Documenting death

My article, Documenting Death is in a Time Warp, has now been published by the Law Society Gazette.

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Small claims of IP infringement

As a member of the UK-based Society of Legal Scholars, IP Draughts receives a copy, every few months, of the society’s journal, Legal Studies.

When he receives his copy, he skims the contents page looking for an article that focuses on practice-based issues in the field of IP or commercial law. Often he finds nothing of interest. Many of the articles seem to be academics talking to one another, and citing one another, in a closed loop.

The latest edition – volume 39 No 1 March 2019 – is different. It includes an article reporting on empirical research about the use of the small claims track (SCT) of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. It seems that this track or court is favoured by professional photographers to claim royalties for use of their photos without permission.

The correct citation for the article is: Cooper E, Burrow S (2019) Photographic copyright and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in historical perspective. Legal Studies 39, 143-165. IP Draughts doesn’t know whether the article is available to non-members, but with the trend to open-access scholarship he hopes it will become generally available soon.
The authors are from the School of Law of Glasgow University. The article is stated to be partly based on Sheona Burrow’s unpublished 2017 PhD thesis, Access to Justice in the Small Claims Track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC): An Empirical Enquiry into Use by Creative SMEs.

The article is topped and tailed with a suitably academic focus on the theoretical framework for ‘property rules’ and ‘liability rules’, and with a discussion of certain historical developments on the subject of newspapers paying photographers for use of their photos. For IP Draughts, who is not part of the academic world, these discussions are of only passing interest, though he notes that the former topic is reminiscent of the Manchester Manifesto, mentioned briefly in an early article on this blog.

Where the article comes to life for IP Draughts is in its analysis of the cases brought in the SCT between October 2012 and 31 December 2015. Such cases do not usually make it on to BAILII, his usual source for reported case law, presumably because they are considered of low importance. And yet, anyone advising a client on an IP infringement matter in England and Wales needs to understand what the SCT is for, how it works, and how it is different from larger cases brought in the fast track and multi-track of IPEC, or even larger cases brought in the Chancery Division (including the Patents Court).

Here are a few points, in no particular order, that jumped out from a lengthy and thoughtful article:

  1. During the period studied, 261 claims were dealt with by SCT, of which 79% concerned copyright infringement. Of these, a majority (144) concerned the infringement of photgraphic copyright, of which 133 were about unauthorised use of a photo on a website. 122 of the claims (46% of the total of 261) were by freelance professional photographers or their agents.
  2. The SCT is the forum of choice for such photographers. It replaced an earlier route that they tended to choose, which was to issue an invoice for unpaid royalties and then bring a money claim in the County Court.
  3. In the vast majority of cases, the photographers were successful in their claims. They tended to seek damages rather than an injunction.
  4. These actions often involve claims of breach of moral rights as well as copyright. For example, it has been held in SCT cases that the right of attribution is breached when metadata is stripped out from the online image.
  5. Damages are often calculated by reference to a “going rate”. In some cases there is an uplift for flagrant breach, often by way of a 100% uplift on damages.

IP Draughts would be interested to read Dr Burrow’s PhD thesis. He idly wonders why there isn’t a branch of high-quality scholarship that avoids all the baggage of the “academy” and just focuses on research that affects practical issues.





Filed under Intellectual Property, Legal practice

Royalty-stacking, blog-stacking

IP Draughts first posted the article linked below four years ago, when he was in Australia, and he reblogged it two years ago. It is worth posting again, as the subject – royalty-stacking clauses in licence agreements – is evergreen.


If you are now ready for that lecture on the architecture of Melbourne bungalows, do let IP Draughts know…

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