Contributed by: Lenon Ong, Lim Sze Yuan
At IP Week 2018 (“IP Week”), members of the Intellectual Property Students’ Association (“IPSA”) had the opportunity to learn about the latest developments and issues of Intellectual Property (“IP”) outside the classrooms.
On entering the IP Marketplace, booths set up by numerous stakeholders, such as LexisNexis and Questel Singapore, could be seen. There was a presentation by Questel Singapore, an IP database provider, on the topic of transforming scientific works into meaningful analysis results. Questel Singapore had demonstrated how their database could perform highly specific and technical patent searches, by utilising data points such as specific types of protein. This struck us as a rather useful tool for innovators who wish to compare similar patents before releasing their own patents. The presentation also proved that scientific knowledge is certainly helpful in the field of patent law.
Legal Track Panel 3A – Judges
Subsequently, IPSA attended Legal Track Panel 3A – Judges. The panel consisted of 5 judges from the United Kingdom, United States of America, China, Singapore and Australia. Essentially, the judges shared various issues of key IP cases from their respective jurisdictions and explained the reasoning behind the decisions made in those cases.
For instance, Justice Aedit Abdullah delivered a riveting and up-to-date sharing on local Singapore cases. An example was Global Yellow Pages v Promedia Directories  SGCA 28 (“Global Yellow Pages”). In Global Yellow Pages, the issue raised was whether IP protection should extend to databases and data collection. He also discussed the need to improve speed and efficiency in the local IP litigation process, and the need for better case management in Singapore.
Professor Kong Xiangjun from Shanghai Jiaotung University then shared how certain abstract IP provisions in Chinese law necessitated judicial interpretation of these laws. This exposed the members of IPSA to greater insights on how IP law is administered in a civil law jurisdiction.
Legal Track Panel 4A – Mock Court: Wilberforce v Diplock
A case management conference is a hearing for the UK IPEC to identify the pertinent issues of a dispute. The IPEC often decides whether the case at hand would be transferred to the high court. The counsel for the claimant argued that as an individual, she required the protection of costs capping under the UK IPEC. On the other hand, the counsel for the defendant argued that the case should be transferred from UK IPEC to the High Court because the case was not an easy one. Copyright revolves heavily around the facts and, and the case had an issue of estoppel, which is a complicated non-IP issue based heavily on evidence. Ultimately, the learned judge held that the issues at hand were not highly technical and the case would not be transferred to the High Court.
Mock Trial & Ruling
“A serious trial awaits us,” we thought. Instead, the trial took a hilarious turn because of the banter between the claimant and the defendant as ex-lovers. From exaggerated gestures to mockery, the balance between seriousness and comedy was just right. The cross-examination explored the past lovers’ relationship at the time of the film production, and the factual circumstances of how the film in dispute was produced. Both parties were called to the stand to elaborate on aspects of the film that were claimed to be solely and jointly written by respective parties.
Ultimately, the judge held in favour of the defendant. The threshold of sufficiency was not met as the claimant had made too few contributions based on the factual matrix of the case; the claimant had only provided limited jargons and criticism to the defendant.
In the final analysis of the mock trial, orders for damages were made. In the calculation of damages, the final damages to be awarded were subject to the costs cap of fifty thousand pounds.
We thoroughly enjoyed how educational IP Week was in providing a wide perspective of the IP ecosystem, spanning across the various jurisdictions and stakeholders. IP Week builds upon existing knowledge of the IP ecosystem, and exposes participants to various issues of IP law.
If we had to suggest an area for improvement, we feel that the legal track panels could have more focus on the theme of technology and could have been more rigorous academically. It is understandable that the panels were more practical because IP Week is targeted primarily at practitioners. Nevertheless, if there was more case law cited during IP Week to help everyone get a more precise understanding of where the law stands, especially during the mock trial itself, IP Week would have been more informative than it already is.