Monday, 23 January 2012

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon



Last night I was one of the guests of QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter on their table at the Liverpool Chinese New Year VIP Dinner in the Adelphi Hotel. The event was organized by the Liverpool Chinese Business Network which I featured in my post "Let's First Become Friends: Then Do Business" on 13 Sept 2011. The dinner was one of a series of events to mark the start of the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year in Liverpool.  Others included "The Taste of China" street market, a dragon, lion and unicorn street dance and special exhibitions and shows at the spectacular new Museum of Liverpool.

This is the "Year of the Dragon" which is associated with power, strength, vitality and good luck. The Chinese Consul-General to Manchester referred to these characteristics yesterday in his speech to the dinner pointing out that China's continuing rapid economic growth offered hope.   It offers massive opportunities for businesses in Liverpool, the United Kingdom and indeed the rest of the world.  A point that I made though rather less authoritatively in my post to the Inventors Club blog "Happy New Year - this could be the year the recovery starts" on 1 Jan 2012,

There are certainly some hopeful signs in Liverpool. The city will host the Global Enterprise Congress between the 9 and 16 March 2012, the first time has ever been held in Europe. Speakers include big names such as Richard Bransom, Terry Leahy, Martha Lane-Fox and Michael Heseltine who famously championed the city after the Toxteth riots when at least some of his  cabinet colleagues were inclined to abandon it to "managed decline" ("Thatcher was urged to let Liverpool fall into decline" 30 Dec 2011 Independent).

Another hopeful sign - though on a much smaller scale - is that Liverpool Inventors Club is likely to start up again thanks to QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter. The Club used to meet regularly every month in the Hornby Room of Liverpool Central Library but its meetings had to be suspended with the restoration of the library. Yesterday, Michael Sandys, head of IP at QualitySolicitors Jackson & Canter, and I agreed to work together to find a speaker and venue for the first meeting on 27 Feb 2012 at 18:00.


With all the good things that are happening in Liverpool right now one name crops up regularly. That of Di Burbidge. She was a founder member of the Inventors Club. She is one of the prime movers of the Liverpool Chinese Business Network. And she is playing an important role in events around the Global Enterprise Congress.   I first met her when she was commercial development manager at Liverpool John Moores University and she now practises on her own account as a Business Development Consultant. If you want to know about business opportunities in Liverpool you could do worse than drop her a line at diburbidge@live.co.uk.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ideas North West: Charles Lucas

Last year Charles Lucas and Tom Bathgate of Going for Grants spoke to the Leeds and Sheffield Inventors Groups.

Their talk were very well received and I blogged about them in The Inventors Club blog on 22 Nov 2011.

They are now speaking to Ideas North West at The Globe Accrington on Tuesday 19 Jan 2012 at 18:00 for 18:30.   


Full details are in my post "Ideas North West:: Going for Grants."

Monday, 16 January 2012

Yes, but just suppose.

One of the trickiest clauses to draft in a commercial contract or terms and conditions is the dispute resolution provision. That is because no party to a commercial transaction wants to think of the possibility of ever falling out with his customer, supplier or collaborator. Yet fall out they often do and unless they have provided otherwise they will find themselves in court where their dispute is in a queue and they find themselves spending money as though it's going out of style.

There is an alternative and that is to refer the dispute to some form of dispute resolution ("ADR").  I have set out the options in my article "Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution in the UK" 2 Nov 2011 J D Supra.   Although a dispute can be referred to ADR at any stage - and there is a duty under the Practice Direction: Pre-Action Conduct to consider ADR which I discuss in my leaflet "IP Dispute Resolution in England and Wales: why sending a US style 'Cease and Desist Letter' or old style 'Letter before Action' may not be a good idea" 13 Jan 2012 J D Supra - it is considerably easier if there is already a dispute resolution provision in place.

These clauses can be very simple.    A typical mediation clause would be as follows:
"Any dispute or difference between the parties will be referred to mediation in accordance with the NIPC Mediation Rules by a mediator agreed by the parties or, in default of agreement within 14 days appointed by the Managing Director of NIPC Ltd."
Often these are combined with an arbitration clause:
"(1) Any dispute or difference between the parties shall be referred to arbitration before a single arbitrator agreed by the parties or, in the absence of agreement within 14 days of the reference, appointed by the managing director of NIPC Ltd.
(2) The seat of the arbitration will be England and Wales,
(3) The NIPC Arbitration Rules will apply."
Click the following links for the NIPC Mediation Rules and fees and the NIPC Arbitration Rules and Fees.   NIPC Arbitration has recently been selected by three large US companies to operate their "safe harbor" dispute resolution scheme (see "NIPC Arbitration's 'Safe Harbor' Dispute Resolution Service" 2 Jan 2012),

There are now a large number of other mediation service providers in the United Kingdom. Those specializing in intellectual property are listed helpfully in a booklet published by the Intellectual Property Office. As counsel I have found those offered by the IPO (see "Practice: Mediation in the IPO", 2 Oct 2009) and the World Intellectual Property Office to be particularly effective. There are rather fewer specialist arbitration services. Judge Ford gathered a panel of arbitrators (of which I was one) for the Patents County Court in the mid 90s but apart from us there is only the WIPO.

Should anyone have a dispute that they wish to refer to mediation they should complete our mediation enquiry form. If they have a dispute they would like to send to arbitration they should complete our arbitration form.  If you want to discuss either service you can call me on 0161 850 0080 or use my contact form. You can also contact me through Facebook, Linkedin, twitter or Xing.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

From Manchester to Manama

Did you know that I keep a blog called NIPC Gulf on intellectual property in the Gulf Co-operation Council ("GCC") states? In the last year year I have posted articles on GCC Patents, the intellectual property laws of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, data protection in the Dubai International and Qatar Financial Centres, the new domain name dispute resolution policy for the United Arab Emirates ("UAE") and, of course, lots of news on the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) and QFC (Qatar Financial Centre) courts.


Why do I focus on that region? Because the Gulf is one of the fastest growing regions of the world providing a vast and rapidly expanding market for businesses in North West England. As I said in my Inventors Club blog a few days ago, I believe the recovery will start in 2012 because the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and South Africa) and other emerging economies are growing so rapidly internally that they should lift the world from recession. The Gulf quite literally fuels that growth and, of course, the GCC states are also important emerging economises in their own right. Most of them are diversifying from hydrocarbon to knowledge based economies.


A knowledge based economy requires intellectual property laws that those who wish to do business with the region can understand and rely on. That's where I come in. Dubai and Qatar have established English speaking courts presided over by eminent judges from Commonwealth jurisdictions that apply common law rules in the Dubai International and Qatar Financial Centres (see "The DIFC Court" 7 Jan 2011 and "Qatar Financial Centre" 3 April 2011). Members of the English bar provide much of the advocacy for those courts. We also advise on local law and draft contracts and other legal instruments. The ruler of Dubai has recently extended the DIFC court's jurisdiction to cover any business dispute from any part of the world (See "DIFC Courts spread their Wings" 6 Dec 2011). 


Should anyone wish to discuss this matter further he or she should not hesitate to contact me on +44 161 850 0080 or complete my on-line contact form.