Saturday, 22 August 2020

Virtual Cambridge: Informa Connect's IP Law Summer School 2020

By Cmglee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Jane Lambert

In 2017 and 2019 I was asked to speak at Informa Connect's Cambridge IP Law Summer School (see Cambridge IP Law Summer School 20 Aug 2917 NIPC News and Cambridge IP Law School 2019  19 Aus 2918 NIPC News). This is usually a residential course at Downing College which takes place in the second week of August.  Participants are housed in the most luxurious student accommodation I have ever seen and eat all their meals in college. Every night of the course there is a special event:  a pub quiz on the first night,  a dinner on high table, punting on the Cam and a barbecue after a walking tour.  Speakers include some of the best known IP practitioners on the planet. The course is attended by very bright young associates and trainees of leading law firms as well as in-house legal advisors in the public and private sectors.  It is a great way to learn and also a great opportunity to make new connections.

A residential course in Cambridge was impossible this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic but to Informa's credit, it transferred the course online. Obviously, a lot was lost. There could be no punting, barbecues or dining high or even conversations in the bar or at the breakfast table, but there could still be talks. Of the three IP Summer Schools that I have attended, this year's talks were the best.  Informa attempted to facilitate online networking over the Brella platform.  Although I had a very interesting chat with Timothy Powell of Potter Clarkson I did not meet many of the participants.  Two turned up with me and the course organizers for a quiz night at the end of the third day which was the one Cambridge social event that could be transposed online but there were not enough of us to form opposing teams.  I also met a few more in a breakout room  on the very first talk which was conducted over Zoom rather than Brella,

Each day of the course has a different theme with a different chairperson.  The course began on 10 Aug 2020 with a discussion on fundamentals.  It was chaired by Derek Meale of Simmons & Simmons.  In Cambridge, Derek usually breaks the ice by handing out chocolate bars to those who can recognize a confectioner's brand from a fragment of the packaging.  His talk is entitled What is Intellectual Property and Why is it Important and it is a whistle-stop tour of trade marks, copyrights, designs and patents. He was followed by Adrian Howes of Nokia who introduced the EU legal framework for IP.  Geert Glas of Allen & Overy introduced copyright. Mark Cruickshank of the Royal Bank of Scotland and George Motley of Simmons & Simmons took us through trade marks. David Rose of Mischcon de Reya introduced us to patents. Giles Pratt of Freshfields discussed IP licensing and transactions.  Adrian returned with Claudia Milbradt of Clifford Chance's German office to cover open collaborative technology development.  The day was rounded off with an excellent presentation by Timothy Powell on due diligence.

Because online learning is tiring for speakers and audiences, Informa held the talks over 10 days instead of the usual 5 with a rest day between each working day.  The second working day took place on the 12 Aug 2020.  The theme was "patents" and it was chaired by me.  We had excellent presentations from Sean Leach of Matthys & Squire on drafting and patent office procedure, Hiroshi Sheraton of Baker & McKenzie on cross-border patent strategy,  Paul England of TaylorWessing on patent infringement and Matthew Shade of Wilmer Hale on patent validity. Claudia returned in the afternoon to discuss software patents and computer-generated inventions.  Timothy Powell also returned to talk about patent practices in different countries.  I spoke about FRAND.   Daniel Shaw of J A Kemp finished a very full day by speaking about pharmaceutical and biotech patents,

The third day of the course took place on 14 Aug 2020. The theme was "soft IP" and it was chaired by Fabienne Brison of Hoyng Rokh Monegier in Belgium.  Grego Prior of Reed Smith spoke of the technical challenges to copyright owners such as file sharing, Kodi boxes and 3D printing.  Victoria McEvedy, who is a US attorney as well as an English solicitor, discussed Directive (EU) 2019/790 which is the EU's legislative response to some of those challenges. Paul Maeyaert of Fencer unravelled elegantly the knotty rules on similar marks, similar goods and the likelihood of confusion including the likelihood of association in oppositions, invalidity and infringement disputes. Ciara Cullen of RPC spoke about the technical challenges to trade mark owners such as keywords and search engine optimization, 3D printing and jurisdictional issues.  Carina Gommers of Hoyng Rokh Monegier tackled the enormous and fast-changing topic of design law focusing on registered and unregistered Community designs and touching on overlapping protection of designs and copyright. Victoria McEvedy returned to talk about defamation, trade libel and injurious falsehood,   Joanna Conway of Kemp Little discussed database rights and copyrights in databases. Liz Fitzsimmons of Eversheds Sutherland ended a very full data with a discussion of data protection. 

As I mentioned above, a quiz night had been arranged for Friday evening and Katherine Reggler appeared on Brella in her magnificent, shiny, quizmaster's coat.  She had run the Cambridge summer school in 2019 as well as a special conference on copyright just before Christmas which I also addressed. It was very good to see her again, albeit very briefly.

Tuesday's theme was transactional IP and the day was chaired by the distinguished Irish lawyer Patricia McGovern of DFMG. The day began with a masterly presentation on licensing by Fiona Nicholson of Bristows.  I have known Fiona ever since she ran the Glasgow branch of the Licensing Executives Society in the 1990s. Glasgow hosted by far the most interesting talks of any branch in the British Isles and were well worth the long drive from Yorkshire to attend.  Fiona later ran the national LES. What Fiona does not know about licensing can be written on the back of a postage stamp. Fiona was followed by Jo Farmer of Lewis Silkin who discussed franchising and merchandising,  Peter Rowland of Herbert Smith explained succinctly the principles of EU and national competition law that are relevant to licensing.  I discussed the IP provisions of the EU withdrawal agreement and political declaration and the draft agreements that had been exchanged by David Frost and Michel Barnier as well as the free trade agreements under discussion with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the USA and what's left of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  I blogged about the topic in British Intellectual Asset Owners' Rights after Brexit: IP Provisions of Bilateral Investment Treaties and Free Trade Agreements on 17 Aug 2020 in NIPC Brexit. After lunch, we heard from Nigel Parker of Allen & Overy on joint ventures and collaboration, Yohan Liyanage of Linklaters on acquisitions and divestitures of IP, Anne Fairpo, who had been one of my colleagues in chambers until a few years ago, on IP tax issues and Nick Fenner of TLT on passing off.

The last day was on Thursday.  The theme was "disputes" which was again chaired by me.  We had a great start from Olivia Wessendorff of the Department for International Trade who is one of the officials negotiating the free trade agreement with Japan that I had touched on briefly on Tuesday.  Olivia had attended the summer school in 2018 and it was good to see her back.  Rebecca Halford-Harrison of Keystone Law kept up the momentum with a comprehensive discussion on IP strategy which was for me the most useful talk of the conference.   We then had a 75-minute break before welcoming Paul Abbott of Freshfields.  He spoke about arbitration and I was particularly interested to hear his discussion of the investor compensation claims through bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements that I had touched upon the day before.  Patricia McGovern returned to discuss border controls and steps against counterfeiting and piracy.  A topic that I am sure will be a growth area for Irish lawyers after 31 Dec 2020.  After lunch, I discussed some research that Prof Mostert and I had presented to the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement last September.(see Another Side of the WIPO  5 Sept 2019 NIPC News).  The last talk of a conference is usually the graveyard slot but James Marshall of TaylorWessing commanded our attention to the end with a masterly presentation on the Trade Secrets Directive and its interrelation with the law of confidence.

I did miss Cambridge and everything that I get to do there including a ballet class at the Bodywork Company (see Ballet. Bodywork and BITs in Cambridge 15 Aug 2017 Terpsichore) but the quality of this year's talks went a long way to making up for what we had lost.  A lot if not all of the credit must go to Alice Muasher who kept the conference to time.  There were a lot of technical issues with broadband outages and other gremlins but nobody would have noticed them for she was completely unflappable. This was a job very well done.

Should anyone who attended or spoke at the summer school wish to say hello, I can be contacted on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or through my contact page,

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