28 September 2022

US Copyright Office Director Shira Perlmutter to Present 2022 Francis Gurry Lecture on IP (18 October 2022)

Shira Perlmutter (source: Wikimedia Commons) Since its establishment in 2009, by the Melbourne Law School in conjunction with the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia (IPTA), the annual Francis Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property has rightly become a highlight on the Australian IP calendar.  Past presenters include former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia Robert French AC, judge of of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales the Right Honourable Lord Justice Colin Birss, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Daren Tang, renowned UK legal academic and founder of the IPKat blog Dr Jeremy Phillips and, of course, the eponymous former Director General of WIPO Francis Gurry himself.

This year, circumstances have resulted in a rather late finalisation of arrangements for the Francis Gurry Lecture, and registration and other details are still to come.  However, the speaker has been confirmed as Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director of the US Copyright Office (pictured, source: Wikimedia Commons), and the date and time of the lecture as Tuesday 18 October 2022 at 6.15pm AEST.  The lecture will take place at the Melbourne Law School, and will also be streamed online.

Save the date for now.  I will update this page with further details as they become available.

UPDATE: The title of Register Perlmutter's presentation has been announced as Art and Authorship: From Warhol to the Creativity Machine.  Registration is now available via Eventbrite.  The venue for in-person attendees will be the Woodward Conference Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School.

The outline of the lecture is as follows:

Pending copyright cases in the United States highlight complex issues of how art is created and adapted.

The U.S. Supreme Court is examining the application of the fair use doctrine to Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints based on another artist’s photograph.

And the development of artificial intelligence capable of producing appealing works of music, visual art, and poetry is challenging traditional concepts of authorship, with test cases being brought in the United States and other jurisdictions around the world.

Register Perlmutter will discuss what is at stake in these cases, and their implications for copyright more broadly.

I am planning to attend, and look forward to the event, and to catching up in person with friends, colleagues and associates from the IP community.

Click here to register

27 September 2022

Recent Trends in the Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney Profession

People trendsAs regular readers of this blog – and watchers of the Australasian patent attorney profession in general – are well-aware, we have witnessed over recent years a significant upheaval in the profession, including three public listings of attorney firm groups and a series of acquisitions and mergers.  The result of this (so far) is that there are now two publicly-listed holding companies – IPH Limited (ASX:IPH) and QANTM IP Limited (ASX:QIP) – which between them own six mid-to-large-sized firms across Australia and New Zealand, collectively employing (as of the beginning of September 2022) just over 20 per cent of all registered trans-Tasman patent attorneys.  The consolidation of this many attorneys under just two ownership groups has naturally led to some concerns about a reduction in competition.  However, as I reported earlier this year, patent filing data in fact shows that a greater proportion of Australian patent applications are now being filed by a larger number of smaller firms than was the case a decade ago, prior to the establishment and rise of the listed group ownership model.

Since January 2018 I have been keeping records of the employment of registered trans-Tasman patent attorneys, as reflected in the public Register maintained by the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board (TTIPAB).  (For readers who have not checked lately, the TTIPAB recently revamped its website, and the new and improved version of the searchable Register can be found here.)  In this article I use this data to present some updated trends in the profession over the past four years and nine months.

Key takeaway points from the analysis are that, since the beginning of 2018:

  1. the total number of registered patent attorneys has grown by just 4.2%, from 1023 to 1066;
  2. the number of attorneys providing for-fee services to clients through identifiable firms or solo practices (regardless of ownership structure) has barely changed, and now sits at 753, compared with 768 in January 2018;
  3. the number of attorneys employed in corporate roles (e.g. in-house counsel) has grown, but so too has the number that are unemployed, not employed in traditional patent attorney roles in Australia or New Zealand, or whose current employment status cannot be determined from information on the Register;
  4. the proportion of attorneys employed by listed group firms – mostly within the IPH group – has declined significantly to reach the current figure of 20%, down from 27% in January 2018;
  5. nearly 60 new practices have emerged – more than half of them prior to July 2019 – with over 90 attorneys now working within firms or solo practices that did not exist prior to 2018; and
  6. the overall number of identifiable firms/practices offering for-fee patent attorney services – which is one possible measure of the level of competition in the market – has increased by around 7%.

So let’s dive into the details, and some charts.

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