Having spent most of my career persuading businesses in Yorkshire and their legal advisers to make more use of the Leeds District Registry and County Court I now find myself settling proceedings or applying for cases to be transferred to the Rolls Building. Sure, you can still issue claim forms for intellectual property actions in Leeds and in theory you can still have a trial here but why would anyone want to? The Patents County Court can hear claims up to £500,000 in the multitrack, cases are tightly managed, trials must be over in 2 days and there is a recoverable costs ceiling of £50,000. Where the relief sought is simply an injunction the quick, cheap and simple process offered by the small claims track is even more compelling.
When His Honour Judge Blackett-Ord retired as Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster in 1988 there was a widespread fear that he would not be replaced. Chancery practitioners in the North mounted a campaign to keep the ancient palatinate jurisdiction which was led by Peter Keenan from my old chambers. We wrote a memo to the Lord Chancellor to which I contributed an economics argument. Central to my case was that a chancery court demanded expertise which created an infrastructure of other professionals who could offer a wide range of services such as intellectual property. Creating a cadre of specialist counsel, solicitors and patent attorneys, I argued, facilitated R&D, the arts and commerce with it the wealth creating businesses that make the difference between a large town and a metropolis.
I think the renaissance of Leeds as well as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and the other great cities of the North over the last 20 years proves that I was right. I fear the exodus of intellectual property cases to the Rolls Building could be the beginnings of a haemorrhage of intellectual property expertise in our region.
On a more cheerful note, Leeds Inventors Club enjoyed a fascinating presentation from Gordon Macrae, Special Projects Manager of Gripple on 18 Oct 2012. Among other things, Gordon spoke about Incub, his company's new product ideas bootcamp which will work with up to six entrepreneurs to evaluate the idea from a technical and market perspective. Just the sort of thing that inventors need.
Sheffield Inventors Group will welcome Steve Van Dulken on 5 Nov 2012 who gave an excellent presentation to Leeds Inventors on 18 July 2012 (see the Leeds Inventors blog post of his talk for the 18 July 2012). Like me, Steve is a blogger and his "Patent Search Blog" is well worth following. As I am discussing Sheffield Inventors I should like to express sincere thanks on behalf of the whole membership to Lynne Hinchcliffe for all her sterling work for the group which has grown steadily under her stewardship. We wish her a long and happy retirement. We look forward to working with Lynne's successor Nicola Avella and congratulate her on her appointment.
Turning from intellectual property to intellectual assets, Huddersfield Choral Society began its winter season with an interesting programme of Vaughan Williams's "Five Mystical Songs" and Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem". Both works offered great scope for Roderick Williams, the baritone soloist who was excellent. There was less scope for a soprano (which was a pity as we had Sarah Tynan) and the chorus; but there was at least one opportunity to hear the inimitable Huddersfield sound in "Der Tod ist verschlungen in der Sieg" in the penultimate movement. Performing with the Choral was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, one of my favourite orchstras, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, one of my favourite conductors.