Wednesday 5 December 2007

IP And The City

Have just got back from five days of solid partying which started with the three-day EIPIN (European Intellectual Property Institutes Network) conference in Gerzensee, Switzerland. I'll write more about EIPIN in my next few posts, for the moment suffice it to say that it was an extremely positive experience for all involved and an incredibly interesting few days.

Despite being delayed by bad weather over London, I made it back just in time to attend an excellent presentation by Professor Lionel Bently, Herschel Smith Professor of Intellectual property at the University of Cambridge. His lecture, the penultimate Herschel Smith lecture this year, was a quite pleasant talk on the development of trademark from a simple means of communication between manufacturers and consumers to a commodity that can be bought and sold just like any other.

His main argument was that as during the nineteenth century trademarks had for a time judged to be an actual form of property rather than simply a right granted by to the holder for a purpose as many regard them nowadays, the problem of the extension of trademark rights to things like shape marks cannot be judged to be a result of this so-called 'propertisation'. While this may all seem quite a merry way of discussing how many angels may dance on the head of a pin, it was at least a good opportunity to chat with some of London's finest IP people, and sample some perfectly potable wine. I suppose if I had to say why trademarks where entering into areas they have not previously touched on, I would have to say that it is a product of modern advertising methods and branding, and that what happened for a period during the century before last was only marginally germane to that problem, if problem it is.

I just about struggled out of bed in time to make the Queen Mary post-graduate party at the Knights Templar's Arms in Chancery Lane. This was quite simply a blast and was the cap on five days of partying in IP-land. There's just is no city quite like London for night life (though Shanghai comes close), and I'm simply loving life here.