When I joined Managing IP in 1996, one of the big patent cases being discussed was Hilton Davis v Warner-Jenkinson. That dispute, concerning the scope of the doctrine of equivalents in the US, led to a Supreme Court decision in 1997. It has since been followed by other rulings such as Festo, which have helped to clarify patent scope in the world’s biggest market – though as our Americas editor Michael Loney reports, there may be change on the horizon.In Europe, on the other hand, the doctrine of equivalents has long led to uncertainty. This is partly thanks to the ambiguity in the Protocol on Article 69 of the EPC and partly to the inevitable differences in interpretation among courts in EPC member states.
The decision from the UK Supreme Court in Actavis v Lilly, which radically changes the law in the UK, will inevitably also have an impact in other European countries. For this month’s cover story, we asked correspondents in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain as well as the UK to assess how their law on the doctrine of equivalents has developed and how it looks in the light of Actavis.
Managing IP has always aimed to reflect the various interests and concerns of IP practitioners throughout the world – and the latest issue demonstrates that. In addition to the articles mentioned from Europe, we have pieces on the CRISPR licensing patent pool, geographical indications in China, trade mark piracy in Cuba, IP reforms in Australia, enforcement in Argentina, the Madrid Protocol in Africa and litigation strategy in the US, UK and EPO. We also have details and photos of the winners of this year’s LMG Life Sciences Awards, which took place in New York last month.
Subscribers can read all this online now; non-subscribers can take a free trial for limited access, and you can also find copies of this issue at our stands at the AIPPI Congress and AIPLA Annual Meeting later this month.
Looking back – and forward
This is the 270th issue of the magazine, and the 215th that I have worked on since starting here in January 1996. It will also be my last issue. I will be leaving at the end of October, which inevitably prompts a few reflections.
One of the biggest developments we’ve seen in that time has been the greater openness and professionalisation of IP offices – thanks to both technology and competition. Systems such as the Madrid Protocol, which has just reached 100 members, and the Hague Agreement continue to expand. But equally important have been online services, searching, data sharing and even thought leadership and training. One of my first tasks as a reporter on Managing IP was to interview Jean-Claude Combaldieu, the first president of OHIM (as it was): I don’t think either of us then had any idea how the Office and the EUTM system would develop over the next 21 years. Although there is still progress to be made, the greater efficiency and transparency of IP offices is surely something that all IP practitioners welcome.
The year 1996 also saw the first publication of our World IP Survey, covering 10 countries. That has matured into our IP STARS rankings, directories and website, which now covers more than 80 jurisdictions and employs a team of researchers headed by our excellent global research coordinator Kingsley Egbuonu. Such rankings are now a mini-industry in the legal profession, including in IP; ironically IP advisers have themselves become brands. Over the past 20 years we have published rankings of the best-rated firms, the biggest ones, the most active filers, the most recommended practitioners and the most influential individuals. As IP work continues to grow, it’s clear clients are hungrier than ever for information on where and how to find the best representatives. Hopefully our rankings help them to do so.
Finally, we cannot escape the transformation in the publishing industry that has taken place in the past 20 years. When I started here, Managing IP was a monthly magazine with a few supplements of various sizes, with articles arriving on disc by courier and the final files being hand-delivered to our patient printers. Today, the monthly magazine is only one part of what we do: technology and customer demands have led us to diversify into websites, social media channels, webinars and events (now led by our producer Natalie Canter) as well as awards dinners, the Women in IP Network and conference newspapers: in fact, one of my final tasks will be to publish the AIPPI Congress News in Sydney next week, along with the newest addition to our team, Asia reporter Karry Lai. The way we communicate has been transformed in the past 20 years – but if I were asked for a prediction, I would say that change will accelerate in the next two decades.
Goodbye and good luck!
It’s been a pleasure working on Managing IP over the past 21 and a half years and I wish all my colleagues, contributors and readers – many of whom have become friends – well for the future. The world of IP embraces people with diverse skills and backgrounds. It is full of professionals who have a genuine passion for and knowledge of the subject. And it is truly international and innovative. For those reasons, among others, I am confident Managing IP will continue to flourish and that you will all continue to engage with it in various ways – as I will be, from afar, from next month.