Sunday, 25 April 2021

Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021

Author  Jonathan Calugi  © 2021 WIPO, all rights reserved Licensed courtesy WIPO



 Jane Lambert

For the last 2 years, the Menai Science Park has hosted Wales's main contribution to World Intellectual Property Day (see World IP Day 2021: "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market" 21 Jan 2021). Emily Roberts and I have been discussing this year's contribution since Autumn and we hope it will be the best ever.

Each year, World IP Day has a different theme.  The theme for 2021 is IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market. It could not be more appropriate for the Menai Science Park because that is what it does all through the year.  Making full use of the park's expertise and that of its tenants, Emily had invited a panel of world-class experts to discuss this year's theme in an online webinar starting at 12:10 and ending at 13:50 tomorrow.

The speakers will be 


Time

Speaker

Topic

12:10- 12:15

Jane Lambert
Barrister

4-5 Gray’s Inn Square

Introduction and Welcome - Cyflwyniad a Chroeso


12:15- 12:30

Andrew Davies Intellectual Property Office

IP and Funding for Growth

12:30 -12:45

David Wooldridge
Welsh Government Innovation Team

Welsh Government Assistance for Startups and SME

12:45-13:00

Alison Orr
Inngot

Valuing startups; intellectual assets

13:00 -13:15

Mark McGowan
BIC Innovation

Arranging funding for startups

13:15- 13:30

Andrea Knox
Knox Commercial Solicitors

Due Diligence and shareholders agreements`

13:30 -13:45

Steve Livingston
IP Tax Solutions

Tax incentives for startups and SMR

13:45 -13:50

Jane Lambert

Thanks and Closing Remarks - 


If you would like to attend this event, please register here.

If this webinar is successful we hope to hold subsequent ones on scaling up the business covering angel and private equity investment and Stock Exchange flotation later in the year possibly in cooperation with a Wales law and innovation network on the lines of the Scottish Law and Innovation Network (see Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network? 14 April 2021),

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of the topics arising from it may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Wales Law and Innovation Network

Llewellyn the Great

























Jane Lambert

On 14 April 2021, I asked: "Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network?"  The answer was a deafening yes for all the reasons set out in my article and more. However, as I also said in my article, such a network will not come into existence of its own accord.   We need an initial event to launch it.

As it happens, an important anniversary is coming up.  On 15 June 1215, Prince Llewellyn the Great extracted important concessions for the governance of Wales from King John of England.  I can think of no better way to celebrate that event than by holding the first meeting of the Welsh La\w and Innovation Network.

The event will take place online.  It will begin at 16:30 with a talk from me on Welsh geographical indications after Brexit and finish with a short business meeting at which I hope we shall secure general support for the project and some volunteers to prepare proposals for its mission, governance, funding and initial activities.   We aim to finish by 18:00.   If you want to attend you can sign up here

Anyone wishing to discuss this proposal is welcome to call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Copyright Licensing and Information and Communications Technology


 














I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to a short webinar on Copyright Licensing and ICT hosted by Creative North Wales and North Wales Tech on Wednesday 21 April 2021 between 15:30 and 16:00.  The other contributor will be Carwyn Edwards of North Wales Tech, He is a systems architect and software engineer.

Copyright is defined by s.1 (1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as 
"a property right which subsists in accordance with this Part in the following descriptions of work-- 
(a) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, 
(b) sound recordings, films or broadcasts, and 
(c) the typographical arrangement of published editions."
Unlike a patent, trade mark or design there is no need to register a copyright with the Intellectual Property Office or any other government department.  The only conditions for the subsistence of the right are that it should be created by a citizen or resident of the United Kingdom or some other state with which the government has concluded an agreement to protect the works of British nationals. Since most countries of the world are party to the Berne or Universal Copyright Conventions, that is pretty much everyone.  By virtue of those Conventions the books, broadcasts, buildings, choreography, compositions, computer programs, films, plays and sound recordings of British artists, authors and publishers are protected automatically everywhere,

Those rights last a very long time.  In the case of an artistic dramatic, literary or musical work copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years.  Thus, copyright still subsists in the wedding photo of Dylan Thomas taken in 1937. It came as a nasty surprise to the owner of a website advertising holiday cottages in Southwest Wales who had used the photo to underscore the region's associations with that great literary figure  (see Pablo Star Media Ltd v Bowen [2017] EWHC 2541 (IPEC) (13 October 2017)).

The consequences for infringing copyright can be draconian.  In addition to compensatory damages for the depreciation of the value of the copyright as a thing in action, a court can award additional damages under s.97 (2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 where the justice of the case so requires or art 13 of the enforcement directive (Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights),.  In some circumstances, an infringement of copyright can be a criminal offence carrying heavy prison sentences and unlimited fines.  Even that is not the end of the story because the photo of Dylan Thomas was protected in the Republic of Ireland by Irish copyright law and in the USA by the Copyright Act of 1976  The unfortunate holiday cottage website owner faced demands for massive statutory damages that are available in those countries.

Most of the creative industries, artists and their publishers regard copyright as a very good thing.  Many of them have established organizations known as collecting societies that sell licences for the performance or other use of their members' works.  Pubs, caf├ęs, restaurants, retailers and other businesses that pipe muzak to the public often display decals with the initials "PRS" which shows that they have been licensed by the Performing Right Society and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society to play such music. Most of those organizations have agreements with collecting societies in other countries so the works of British artists and publishers are protected around the world and those of other countries are protected here.   Failure to obtain such licences and pay the licence fee can lead to litigation or worse.

In contrast to other creative industries, there has been a measure of ambivalence towards copyright and other intellectual property rights in the computer industry.  While many have been quick enough to asset their rights, others regard it as an unwelcome interference with their work.  

Until the early 1980s, nobody paid much attention to intellectual property in software because there was no way of copying software. In the very early days of computing, software was bundled with hardware. Even after unbundling software was recorded on very bulky media such as punch cards or later heavy magnetic drums the size and shape of fruitcakes. Programmers tended to share handy little programs for calculating dates and similar tasks.  That was the original meaning of "freeware" and it was an issue in Ibcos Computers Ltd v Barclays Mercantile Highland Finance Ltd and others  [1994] FSR 275 as late as the early 1990s.

The coming of personal computers in the early 1980s  changed all that.  Applications could be distributed on floppy discs or even online.  There was for a time some doubt as to whether copyright could protect software but the Copyright (Computer Software) Amendment Act  1985 settled such uncertainty in the UK.   As a result of this legislation and advances in technology informal collaboration between programmers was no longer possible.  

It was in response to such challenges that the Free Software Foundatiion was established in the early 1980s. It promoted mass collaborations such as the GNU project that enables users to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve their software.  The Foundation was joined by the Copyleft movement from which Prof Lawrence Lessing established Creative Commons.  In the last 20 years, there have been many other projects that have enabled copyright materials to be made available to the public free of charge. Some are operated by national governments such as Open Government licence in the UK.

Carwyn and I have only 15 minutes each on Wednesday, .  I shall stick to the legal issues and Carwyn to the technical ones.  That is not enough time to explore the topic in any depth but if the talk goes well we may hold another longer one with experts from the industry and academia.

Anyone wanting to sign up for the talk should register here.  Those wishing to discuss this article or its contents should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network?

Menai Science Park
☺ 2018 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved




Earlier this month I discussed the Scottish Law and Innovation Network ("SCOTLIN") which describes itself as "a Scotland-focused collaboration and knowledge exchange hub that promotes impactful research, excellence in teaching, and societally beneficial law and policy innovations" (see Jane Lambert Scottish Law and Innovation Network 3 April 2021 NIPC Law).  It is a project in which all Scottish universities and some practitioners participate.

The project has been launched shortly before elections to the Scottish Parliament in which a second independence referendum is an issue.   As I said in my article, very little was said about innovation policy in Scotland's Future, the independence white paper, even though it would have been crucially important.  With the establishment of SCOTLIN, there is the [possibility for both sides in the coming independence debate to be better informed.  Also, intellectual property should gain a higher profile in both law schools and science and engineering faculties of Scottish universities regardless of the outcome of any future independence referendum. 

Although the issues in the Senedd elections are different, the need for a law and innovation network in Wales is at least as great.  As I argued in A Separate Welsh Legal Jurisdiction on 20 Feb 2021,  legislation enabling the Senedd to enact primary legislation necessitates a separate court system along the lines of the arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland.  That is as much in the interests of businesses and individuals in England as it is for those in Wales.  A separate Welsh court system will have to deal with specialist matters such as intellectual property that are currently resolved in London.  A Welsh law and information network could play a useful role in training practitioners and judiciary as well as practical matters such as raising awareness of the importance of intellectual property among businesses and the general public in Wales.

Whether Wales remains in or secedes from the Union, its prosperity depends on the creation of knowledge-based businesses such as those in the Menai Science Park, Aberinnovation and elsewhere. Those businesses are helping to reverse decades of economic decline and depopulation in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.  They require access to specialist advice, forums for the resolution of disputes, angel and private equity funding and other services close at hand.  A law and innovation network could catalyze those developments.

A Welsh law and innovation network will not just happen.  It needs something to gather potential participants together.  Maybe that something will be the Menai Science Park's contribution to World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April (see World IP Day 2021: "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market"  21 Jan 2021). We have gathered experts from the Intellectual Property Office, the Welsh government, Inngot, BIC Innovation, Knox Commercial Solicitors and IP Tax Solutions to speak on the day's themes "Taking your Ideas to Market",   We shall keep with that panel after the webinar and expand it until it becomes a law and innovation network for Wales.  Probably we need to adopt another name because neither "Wales Law and Innovation Network" nor "Rhwydwaith Cyfraith ac Arloesi Cymru" condenses into a memorable acronym like SCOTLIN. To help us clear the ground I have a presentation on geographical indications in Wales that I should be glad to deliver (see Jane Lambert The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales 25 Oct 2020).

Anyone wishing to discuss the proposal further is welcome to call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.