IOM Law Society provides IP refresher training

Article Posted: 16th Apr 2013

Dr Who, Bacardi Breezer and Ferrari were among the references employed by solicitor Patricia Barclay of Edinburgh-based firm Bonaccord when she gave two seminars on intellectual property (IP) organised by the Isle of Man Law Society.

Drawing on her experience from her years with pharmaceuticals company Pfizer and working with scientists, often in Central Europe, in other commercial sectors, including chemicals and cosmetics, Ms Barclay explained that her seminars were designed to give ‘a flavour’ of the legal implications of trademarks, copyright, patents and licensing. As an example, referring to nostalgia articles featuring old photographs, she said: ‘Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s copyright free’.

Ms Barclay gave two seminars over two days and met representatives of the Department of Economic Development in anticipation of collaborative projects between the jurisdictions involving advocates’ clients.  This was against the background of the Law Society’s wish to act as a catalyst to business to benefit the island’s economy and legal profession.

In her seminar on trademarks and copyright, Ms Barclay discussed how intellectual property could be used to develop capital value in a consultancy or other professional services firm, the fundamentals of branding, the purpose of trademarks and how multiple copyrights could be involved and exploited  in a single work.  Her audience was charged with reviewing the number and type of copyrights appearing in the film Casino Royale and set the challenge of assuming the role of commercial director of TV’s Dr Who and coming up with ideas to maximise the return on the brand.

Citing Coca Cola, Apple and Microsoft as examples she urged her audience of advocates to ‘keep some perspective’ when dealing with patents, explaining: ‘Even the most valuable patents will never be as valuable as a brand. Patents will run out…and are expensive.’ For the future Europe was, she said, ‘inching towards a single EU patent system’, although Spain and Italy remained opposed to the reform, saying the new régime would discriminate against their languages.

Summarising, and against the background of the legal complexities of intellectual property, Ms Barclay advised her audience that it was important for lawyers to keep their skill base current with training events whenever possible and for lay persons not to dabble in matters they did not understand as the financial and commercial consequences could be catastrophic. She described a scenario in which two school friends had established a thriving business; one designing fabrics, the other marketing them. Neither had thought to incoroporate the IP relating to the design work into the partnership. On the designer’s death, the IP passed to the designer’s estate leaving the marketing director with neither job nor business. Ms Barclay explained that with the right legal advice at the outset this could have been avoided.