Tuesday 20 January 2015

Use it or Lose it: this year's CIPIL conference

The ideal Cambridge weekend ...?
Organised by 1709 Blog friend Prof Lionel Bently, "Intellectual Property: Use it or Lose it?" is the title of this year's CIPIL Spring Conference which will be held, as usual, at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge on Saturday 7 March. 

Despite the title, the conference does not only concern trade marks. Copyright is also due to play an important role in the programme.

According to the abstract, in fact, 

This one day conference [chaired by The Hon Mr Justice Arnold] seeks to explore the apparently increased place of the obligation of use within intellectual property law. We begin with a review of recent developments in case-law and legislation across the three fields (trade marks, patents, copyright). We conclude by reflecting on the relationship between obligations to use and property rights, the harms caused by those holding but not using IPRs, and various ways in which use might be incentivised (including pricing mechanisms imposing penalties for non-use), and issues of territoriality. Different fields of intellectual property law operate with different expectations as to whether an intellectual property right owner will exploit their intellectual property, and how the law should respond if the rightholder decides not to do so.

... Going to an IP conference, of course!
Trade mark protection was (in Britain, at least), for some time, premised on the idea that the trade mark owner was using the mark, and, even when registration came to be permitted prior to use, provisions were introduced limiting the effects of marks that had not been used and making possible their revocation. In passing off, if a trader who has built up goodwill ceases to trade (or ceases simply to use the sign with which the goodwill has become associated), the goodwill is presumed gradually to dissipate. Patent law, likewise, was premised on an expectation that a patentee would exploit the invention, and this was in many legal systems given effect to by providing that unworked patents might be revoked or subject to compulsory licences. That said, these provisions have tended to be subjected to increasing numbers of conditions or limitations. Meanwhile, recent years have seen a rise in concern over so-called ‘non-practising entities’ (NPES, aka ‘trolls’).

In copyright law, the expectations of use have played a lesser role, though legal systems have frequently provided legal mechanisms for regulating decisions by copyright owners in works of deceased authors; while contractual regulation (particularly in civil law systems), has frequently protected authors from decisions of transferees of copyright not to exploit works. Latterly, however, the idea that a rightholder must ‘use it or lose it’, has underpinned rules relating to term extension for sound recordings and, more generally, orphan works."

Reserving your place is just a click away.

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