Celebrating World IP Day

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Jane Lambert

Today is World IP Day, an international festival of innovation and creativity to celebrate the entry into force of the Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization on 26 April 1970. The World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") is the UN specialist agency for intellectual property with responsibility for administering most of the world's intellectual property treaties, formulating future policy for the protection of intellectual assets and resolving intellectual property disputes.  The WIPO has 193 member states each of which is encouraged to celebrate World IP Day.  Particulars of those celebrations are posted to the World Intellectual Property Day Events Calendar.

The United Kingdom is contributing 6 events this year:
  • IP With Guy Fox on 18 April 2021
  • The Scottish Bar's 13th World IP Conference  organized by the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh on 23 April 2021
  • Leeds Central Library's "How to protect your IP rights in the creative arena" at 11:00 on 26 April 2021;
  • The Menai Science Park's webinar "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market." between 12:10 and 13:50 on 26 April 2021
  • The Intellectual Property Awareness Network's webinar "IP strategy for fintech start-ups and SMEs" between 18:00 and 19:30 on 26 April 2021; and
  • World IP Day, Life on the IP Bench and Other Things: A Conversation with Professor Sir Robin Jacob organized by University College London Institute of Brand & Innovation Law.
I will be taking part in two of them.   I will be chairing the Menai Science Park's lunchtime webinar  "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market." which will be the Welsh contribution to the day's celebrations and I will be one of the panellists at the evening seminar on  "IP strategy for fintech start-ups and SMEs" which is organized by IPAN and Nottingham Trent University.

I have already mentioned the Menai Science Park's webinar in  Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021 in NIPC Wales on 25 April 2021.  Emily Roberts of the science park has invited a world-class team of experts from the Intellectual Property Office, Welsh Government Innovation Team, Inngot, BIC Innovation, Knox Commercial Solicitors and IP Tax Solutions.  The theme of our webinar is the theme of the day, namely IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market. It is something that the science park does all through the year and not just on 26 April 2021.  Please sign up here if you want to attend that webinar.

While most IP practitioners will have been led to FinTech by IP I was led to IP by FinTech.   In the 1980s I was legal advisor to VISA International for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Though the term FinTech was not used in those days it was an era of rapid advancement in financial services technology. VISA, Mastercard, Eurocard and other payment services were developing terminals to enable transactions to be authorized automatically using magnetic stripe and later microchip technologies,  The first hole-in-the-wall machines were beginning to appear relieving customers of the need to queue for ages at branch counters to deposit funds or cash cheques,  I learnt my IP law then.  I instructed Hugh Laddie who was later to become a Patents Court judge to appeal against an examiner's refusal to allow an application to register a trade mark for travellers' cheques on the ground that we were seeking a service mark before the law was changed to allow such registrations,  I learned to draft contracts for the acquisition of computer hardware and the licensing, leasing and mortgaging of software.  I racked my brains on how to protect digital technologies in view of the statutory exclusions of computer programs and methods of doing business from patentability.    

Forty years on many of those issues remain which is why I am delighted to explain why patents are not necessarily the best way of protecting FinTech technology.  I shall take Judge Melissa Clarke's judgment in Communisis Plc v The Tall Group of Companies Ltd and others [2020] EWHC 3089 (IPEC) (17 Nov 2020).  I shall suggest that other types of IP rights such as copyright or trade secrets under the 2016 Directive may provide better protection.

I shall share a platform with some distinguished speakers:
  • Amanda Solloway MP, UK Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property
  • John Ogier. Chairman Intellectual Property Awareness Network
  • Alessandro Hatami Co-founder of The Pacemakers and author of Reinventing banking and finance (Kogan Page, 2020)
  • Dr Fernando Da Cruz Vasconcellos, Director of Investment Strategy, Valuation Consulting 
  • Professor Xuan-Thao Nguyen. University of Indiana, USA and 
  • Associate Professor Dr Janice Denoncourt, Nottingham Law School.
If you would like to attend that seminar please register here.

Readers will be more than welcome at both seminars and registration is free.   It would be delightful to see you at at least one of those events.   If anyone wants more information about these events, please call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

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