Monday, 22 June 2015

After the AGM

18 May 2015, 6.30 pm

I drink several glasses of wine in quick succession, to celebrate having made it through my Pee Investiting Ceremony.  I also consume a couple of crackers, some smelly cheese and a stick of celery.  But the wine is better.

There is a carnival going on outside.  People are shouting and cheering and playing drums and from the third floor at 95 Chancery Lane, it is possible to imagine that they are celebrating the election of a new CIPA President.  I know this is not really true, of course, but then I also know that there is not really a Big Bad Wolf.  No matter.  I think I got away with it. 


18 May 2015, 9 pm

So.  I am no longer Pee-to-Be!  I am the real, actual Pee!

Breadstick.  More wine.  Smelly cheese.  Crisps.  Wine again.

Oh look: a grape!

I have spent the last twelve months, as VeePee, waiting to be found out.  It has not happened.  I have learnt many things, some of them about CIPA and some about myself, but the biggest revelation is that you can hold office for an awful long time before people realise you are totally unfit for it.  In fact, they may never realise.  You can drop all sorts of hints – and all sorts of straw; you can confess to knowing nothing, and indeed provide convincing proof of the fact; you can trip over your rucksack, spill tea on a baroness’s aide and drink so much gin that the juniper fragrance wafts ahead of you into the following morning’s meetings.  You can, in fact, be a complete numpty.

And what is the mechanism within CIPA for dealing with this?  What protection do the Bye-laws provide against straw-shedding, biscuit-crumb-dropping wurzels? 

They make you President.

Wine.  Cracker.  Grapes.  Wine.  Peanuts!! 

Congratulations, everyone.  You have just elected the most un-Pee-like Pee that CIPA has ever had.  This is a proud and historic moment for all.  


18 May 2015, 11 pm

Breadstick.  Wine.  Cheese.

Obviously, now I am President I get to stay in only the best Presidential-quality hotels.

Obviously, this is a joke.

Even allowing for the lateness of the hour and the rather worrying specific gravity changes in my bloodstream, it is clear that my hotel room is on the bijou side.  The ratio of bed to not-bed is about 10:1.  There is a desk, and a stool wedged under the desk, but if you want to use both at once – for instance, to sit on the stool and work at the desk – you have to sit side-saddle.  In the bathroom, there is no room for a shower curtain, so when you use the shower, you also sluice down the entire floor, giving a whole new meaning to the term “wet room”.

I shouldn’t complain, I know, because for the price I’m paying it is clearly a privilege to stay here.  And at least the high bed to not-bed ratio means I stand a better chance of ending up in the right place overnight, so long as I don’t accidentally mistake the wardrobe for a guest annex.

Wine.  Peanuts.  Who put this celery in my rucksack??!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

AGM report

18 May 2015, 5 pm

Today is the day.  The day of the Annual General Meeting.  By 5 pm I am a gibbering wreck.

The meeting is as exciting as only a CIPA meeting can be.  One by one the Pee reads out the spine-tingling, seat-gripping motions and each in turn is proposed and seconded and voted for and ultimately – SURPRISE!! – carried.  The suspense each time is hard to bear.  But the genuinely seat-gripping stuff is the Annual Report, which Mr Lampert has designed to look like a proper Annual Report with a cover and pictures and whizzy coloured graphics and even a font size that normal adults can read.  This is a great report, people say.  It is very professional.  And I don’t think they can quite believe it is CIPA’s.

Half-way through the meeting, Mr Davies announces the election results.  (Luckily they are in English, which he is relieved about because last time he checked CIPA’s Survey Monkey® account he was in Portugal drinking port (apparently this was to do with a CNIPA meeting, yeah yeah, like we can’t tell CNIPA is just CIPA with a spelling mistake) and when he logged on again back in London everyone’s manifestos were in Portuguese.  Mr Davies does not speak Portuguese, even after five glasses of port, though he will have a go at anything and therein lies the problem.)

And then as if by magic, the Pee is not the Pee any more, she is the EyePeePee, and the EyePeePee becomes the EyeEyePeePee and we have a new VeePee who is a proper one this time.  And suddenly I am the Pee.  Just like that.

There follows some ceremonial argy-bargy.  Last year’s Pee opens a box and politely shows me the Presidential swimming-gala medal.  I look politely interested in it for a moment, and then we look at each other as if to say Thank Goodness we don’t actually have to wear this thing.  She knows there is no way I am going to let anyone put that round my neck because it absolutely fails to match my posh frock, and she looks mightily relieved about this.  Then we play musical chairs on the ceremonial dais, and the new EyePeePee moves along one to make room for me.   There is probably some Latin we should be saying at this point but we have accidentally on purpose shredded all documents with Latin bits in.

I take my seat next to Mr Davies, look at the notes he has prepared to stop me being totally incompetent on this most important of occasions, and promptly forget what I am supposed to do.  So instead I have a go with the Ceremonial Gavel, which I have never been allowed to do before.  What an honour it is, to be able to wield the Ceremonial Gavel at last!  I feel as though my whole life has been spent preparing for this moment. 

Mr Davies wishes I had spent a little longer preparing for this moment, and then I might actually have remembered what to do next.

After I have banged the gavel a few times and messed up a few procedural motions, I make a little speech and drop some straw again.  In summary the speech says that CIPA Presidents are a bit like the Three Little Pigs and there is a Big Bad Wolf out there who wants to nick our straw before we have finished building CIPA but I will not let him because CIPA is FAB and anyway Mr Davies hasn’t done the plumbing yet.  I say I am proud to have been able to cadge biscuits off people last year and I hope I can continue to do so for another twelve months.  I say that the new VeePee and I will make a good team because he knows some stuff about IP, which complements my skill set nicely.  And I thank everyone I can think of who is even vaguely connected with CIPA because it seems wise at least to start the year with some friends.

It is an inspiring speech, as you can tell, and exquisitely structured.  There are not many chartered institutes that get to listen to speeches on children’s fairy tales at their AGMs.  And although Mr Davies is standing by with the ceremonial gaffer tape, he doesn’t quite manage to get to me in time.

Then we have a proper inspiring speech by the Detective Superintendent who chases Cybermen, and everyone wishes she was our new President instead.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Breakfast in IP - for women AND men

15 May 2015, 4.30 pm

There appears to be confusion over a breakfast meeting which CIPA is arranging for some US attorney visitors.  The first confusion is over the menu.  Some people, it seems, are expecting bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, fried bread and brown sauce.  Others, perhaps more realistically, are expecting fancy-pantsy flaky Continental things.  Personally, since the Americans are coming, I am expecting pancakes and muffins and grits. 

The second confusion is about whether this is a meeting about Diversity in IP or a meeting about Women in IP.  If it is about Women in IP, say the men in IP, then it is Not Fair and we are going to go anyway so ner-ner.  I have no problem with this.  Men are welcome to come to any meeting, whether it is about women or about diversity in general.  So long as they understand that there may not be enough toilets for them.  And they agree not to sit there absent-mindedly scratching their inside legs while someone is offering them muffins and grits.

Either way, there does not appear to be any confusion over the time of the meeting.  Although, one or two of us have questioned the existence of an 8.15 am on a Monday morning.  Who on earth invented that?

Friday, 19 June 2015

A bit like the BAFTAs

15 May 2015, 3.30 pm

Yay!  We are plotting to do some annual CIPA awards!  They will be just like the BAFTAs, only possibly a tiny bit less glamorous, and there will be a special awards ceremony at the Congress dinner to stop people falling asleep over their profiteroles.  I imagine we will have trophies and things too, although if the Presidential swimming-gala medal and the CIPA tie pin are anything to go by, I am not going to get too excited about that. 

What I am, however, excited about is the idea of giving someone an award for being a Good Sort in the IP world.  What will the categories be?  Most accurately-punctuated document?  Longest main claim?  Rudest response to an examination report?  Rudest response to a trainee?  Or perhaps: most amount of money (this is the way Lord Sugar talks so it must be alright) in a client account, or most alternative Alternative Business Structure.

Obviously there will be a President’s Award.  This year it will be for the best cakes and biscuits.  Institute members are invited to send their submissions to CIPA whenever they wish; judging will take place throughout the Presidential year.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Pro bono

13 May 2015, 5 pm

It has been a day full of meetings, and it is not over yet.  This one is about pro bono work.  Why anyone would think patent attorneys would be remotely interested in working for free is beyond me.  We all know solicitors do pro bono work because they want to be seen to be altruistic and cuddly.  They probably have diversity policies too, and do 360⁰ appraisals and team-building events and all sorts of other namby-pamby stuff.  That does not mean we need to go soft too.

However, today’s meeting is with the IPEC judge, Mr Justice Hacon.  The Mister Justice is quite clear about pro bono being a Good Thing, especially for the poor souls who try to represent themselves in his Court and end up getting their knickers in an unsightly twist.  We decide we will maybe talk about perhaps coming up with a proposal to consider, with a view to possibly establishing a potential pro bono group that could, in certain circumstances but obviously not for the time-wasters and the lunatics, provide some free IP advice and representation.  Now and then.

ITMA are at the meeting too.  They are soft as well.  In fact, all of us in the room are of the altruistic type, and we manage to convince ourselves that this is a feasible project and that we can do great things for the IP community in setting it up.  This is the British psyche showing itself again.  When a lunatic or an out-of-luck Nigerian prince asks us to work for free, perhaps we should just say Yes of course and apologise for not offering before.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

My interview with the Police

13 May 2015, 1.30 pm

I go to see one of our Congress keynote speakers.  She is also, as it happens, speaking at the AGM next week.  She is a Detective Superintendent with the City of London Police.  And she is in charge of Economic Crime.  I am guessing this is a seriously large remit, what with everything the banks have been doing in recent years and everything the Government is planning to do next.

The Detective Superintendent is not at all like the detectives in the TV programmes, rushing around in the rain being ill-lit and moody.  She is relaxed and friendly.  She brings me a glass of water and turns a big light on for us and asks me a few gentle questions about Congress.  I feel a little self-conscious with the tape recorder on, but I get over my initial nerves.

The DS used to be in charge of catching burglars and murderers but now she has to catch cyber criminals.  I get the impression she preferred the burglars and murderers, because on the whole they were nowhere near as clever and they kept leaving DNA and fingerprints lying around. 

She tells me some fascinating stories about what the cyber fraudsters get up to these days.  Part of the problem, it seems, is that the British psyche makes us ideal victims.  If a stranger asks a Brit for £2,000 towards a new Gucci® handbag, the Brit’s response is typically to hand over the money and apologise for not offering before.  And probably add a tip.  The only exception to this might be a patent attorney, who would want to know the dimensions of the handbag before paying up.  This means that when a scam email arrives, the average Brit instinctively tries to find a helpful way to reply.

Some victims are difficult to convince that they are victims at all.  Just like the inventor who insists on re-mortgaging his home to fund a massive PCT nationalisation programme, despite a search report full of Xs and a distinct lack of either a business plan or indeed a business, they maintain that they have not been scammed at all and continue to transfer funds to the poor out-of-luck Nigerian prince.  Plus his bank charges, his travel expenses, his “medical” bills and a donation to the local Small Arms Appreciation Society.

After all this, IP piracy seems a little on the tame side.  But apparently the City of London Police are onto it.  Big time.  Only first they have to convince the new generation of internet users that it is not a fundamental human right to be able to download, copy and distribute anything you like, especially if someone else made it.  And the problem here, as with all cyber crime, is that it is just too easy.  How can it be a crime to take something that is so readily available, like blackberries at the side of the road?  In culinary circles, “foraging” has become quite trendy.  So why should you not forage the internet and take home a movie or two to serve with your chips?

I confess I do not know the answers any more than the Detective Superintendent does.  She says that’s alright but anything I do say may be taken down in evidence and used against me.  So I say, Can you not get Doctor Who to sort out the Cybermen for you, he usually does?  But I don’t think that was the answer she wanted.

Anyway, I am glad they did not search me before I went inside the City of London Police headquarters.  It may or may not be a crime to carry straw around these days, but it sure looks suspicious in the middle of London.  Who’s to say I don’t also have a couple of incendiary crab-apples in my rucksack?

Monday, 15 June 2015

Warming up for CIPA Congress

13 May 2015, 10.30 am

The Congress Steering Committee meets.  We talk about the Big Cheese speakers we have lined up.  They are already being primed to make Controversial Assertions so as to stimulate Lively Debate.  The primary intended outcome is actually not so much the debate as a more life-sustaining temperature in the meeting room.  In previous years it has been a little on the northern side.  This year, with sessions on the commoditisation of legal services, the replacement of IP attorneys with Artificial Intelligence, and whether IP hinders innovation, there is a risk that the room will get so hot it will spontaneously combust.  We might as well rebrand the event Hot CIPA. 


Personally, I doubt that Artificial Intelligence could ever be a match for the more astute members of the patent profession.  But if they ever come up with Artificial Social Skills, then we will have to start watching our backs.  And they won’t have to try too hard either. 

The session on AI has been allocated to Mr Davies and the EyePeePee Train Man.  Since the EyePeePee has little real interest in anything that isn’t steam-driven, it has been left to Mr Davies to do the bulk of the getting excited about this.  And excited he is, too.  He has called the session: Disruptive Technologies.  He is very fond of the word “disruptive”, our Mr Davies.  He has had it shouted at him often enough.

The only person who has not progressed her allocated session particularly much is of course me.  I try to make this seem deliberate.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Retrospective Learning Outcomes

12 May 2015

Our patent attorney friend, he of helium-filled piranha fame, expresses concern that he did not prepare any Learning Outcomes for yesterday’s workshop.  He is worried that Ms Sear will tell him off.

I tell him not to worry.  In my experience, I say, Learning Outcomes are best written retrospectively anyway.  That way you can be guaranteed success.

I mean, otherwise they would be Learning Aspirations, wouldn’t they?

Mr Davies does not concur with this view.  But he bites his tongue because these days there are so many things he needs to not concur with me about, he has to conserve his energies for the big ones.  Like: why am I still refusing to wear the Presidential swimming-gala medal at next Monday’s AGM?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Piranha & pizza

11 May 2015

There is a large helium-filled piranha floating menacingly around CIPA Hall.  It approaches The Queen and Prince Philip, veers away at the last minute and turns on Byte-sized Bill instead.  Then it hurtles towards the ceiling, almost incinerates itself on a chandelier and nose-dives towards Mr Davies, who is busy filming it for tweet-related purposes.

This is, apparently, a staff training session.

Once the CIPA staff have been thoroughly trained in the manoeuvring of remote-controlled helium-filled piranhas, a patent attorney friend of ours teaches them how to turn an entertaining toy into a page full of pedantic, punctuation-less pomp, patent attorney-style.  They throw themselves into this claim drafting exercise with gusto.  Some of them soon reveal their competitive sides, especially when they are issued with an examination report and some new prior art.  Mr Davies clearly thinks the examiner is an imbecile and is about to pen a response along those lines which would be worthy of the most aggressive of 19th-century patent attorneys.  When presented with a potential infringer, he is most definitely not for settling. 

Mr Lampert’s team, on the other hand, spend twice as long as the others crafting a beautiful claim, and miss the filing deadline by three days.  They are allowed a patent anyway, under regulation 3 of the Standard Workshop Protocol, and proceed to sue the potential infringer for everything he has.  Mr Davies’s team also sue the infringer but omit to check first whether they have a case for it under their timely-filed but exquisitely optimistic main claim.  Their optimism is misplaced; they lose a million Euros.  Mr Davies demands a recount.  

Spreadsheet Spurgeon, who is also on Mr Davies’s team, wants to know how much the helium-filled piranha has knocked us back and whether he can apply straight-line depreciation to this latest CIPA acquisition.  Especially since Mr Davies has just lost him a million Euros.

Unlucky Gary had ordered us pizzas for lunch.  But when he told the pizza company his name, they said that unfortunately the pizzas would be delayed by 48 hours due to an international mozzarella shortage.  By 1.15 we are tired of waiting, so we eat the pizzas Gary ordered for last Thursday’s meeting, which have just arrived.

Oh no! Power cut!

8 May 2015

At home in the evening, the power goes down.  I realise that without electricity, I am basically completely useless.  There is very little that I do that doesn’t rely on some form of electronic equipment and at least a semblance of connectivity (and a semblance is about all you get doon ’yur in the Wess Curntry) with other pieces of electronic equipment.  I cannot even watch the washing machine go round.  I am unconnected and unconnectable.  I might even have to read the CIPA Journal. 

But it is getting too dark to read.  And although we have torches at the ready, they are clearly not going to be much use because they are ELECTRIC torches and we have a POWER CUT.  Dur!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Planning ahead

7 May 2015

The CIPA cocktail menu (for when we install a bar and a dance floor):

IP-ina Colada – white rum; coconut cream; pineapple juice; served with a maraschino cherry and a non-disclosure agreement.

The Main Claim – a beverage comprising a mixture of two or more alcoholic liquids, optionally with one or more additional flavourings, characterised in that the beverage has an unfeasibly frivolous appearance.

International Liaisons – a beverage according to claim 1, wherein the two or more alcoholic liquids are selected from the group consisting of sake, schnapps, ouzo, sangria, tequila, grappa, vodka made from things you really ought not to make vodka from but have a surfeit of, and other suspicious-looking foreign liquids, provided that if the suspicious-looking foreign liquid is Australian lager, the beverage is not served with a maraschino cherry.

El Presidente – 3 shots of gin; tons of ice; a drop of tonic; preferably in a glass but straight from the bottle will do.

El Presidente non-alcoholic version – unavailable.

Mr Davies’ Dream – 2 shots of cheap whisky; half a pint of coke; 2 more shots of cheap whisky; Southern Comfort® if available; definitely worth tweeting about.

Council Collins – precisely-punctuated gin-based cocktail; recipe still the subject of lengthy discussion; unlikely to be the most exciting thing you drink this year.

Wess Curntry Wayfarer – 2 ml 100% proof apple juice; half a pint of murky water; straw (note: plural not singular); a funny smell.

The Article 123 – from 1 to 5, for example from 2 to 4, such as 2 or 3 or 4, shots rum, in particular white rum, or dark rum, or a mixture of white and dark rum; from 1 to 4, for example from 2 to 4, such as 2 or 3 or 4, shots fruit-flavoured brandy, for example selected from the group consisting of cherry, apricot, peach, pear and apple brandy, more particularly from the group consisting of apricot, peach and pear brandy, for example apricot brandy or peach brandy or pear brandy; from 1 to 10, for example… oh don’t bother, let’s have a beer instead.

Congress on the Beach – vodka; peach schnapps; cranberry juice; orange juice; sand; quantities TBC.

Approved Regulator – sours; bitters; ice; no garnish.

Black Book – vodka; coffee liqueur; served in a 10-pint jug with supplement to follow.

The Second Medical Use – tequila; rum; vodka; bourbon; for use in the treatment of claim-specific hyperpedantic disorder.

Poisonous Priorities – port; coffee cream liqueur; Red Bull®; raw egg; spinach juice.

Battle of the Bands – anything you like, but 7 of them.  All doubles.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Happy Hour and a Pleasure Room

6 May 2015, 5.45 pm

We head for Happy Hour.  With my usual flair for causing havoc, I set off the alarm in the CIPA lift.  This is what comes of leaning back too nonchalantly with a large straw-filled rucksack on your back.

It is interesting to note what happens when you activate a lift alarm.  First there is a lot of beeping and electronic wailing, which everyone thinks is caused by someone else’s mobile.  Then there is a big fat nothing.  Eventually the lift intercom broadcasts a rather bored “Yeah?”, but it is clear that the source of this broadcast has not the slightest interest in your reply.  The fact that there might be a real actual person trapped in a real actual lift is clearly insufficient to generate a sense of urgency.

Happy Hour is being held under the glow of a large neon sign saying “Pleasure Room”.  It is not clear whether this refers to the room we are actually in or another room in the corner which we are being invited to explore.  I’m not sure I particularly want to know the answer.  Although I guess if CIPA does want to expand into new premises and install a bar and a dance floor, we should get a little more savvy about such things.  Perhaps every commercial venue these days needs a bar, a dance floor and a Pleasure Room. 

Office talk

1 May 2015, 3 pm
The CIPA election is back on again, this time with the right number of Council vacancies.  My relief is immeasurable.

I resist the urge to tweet: “Join the @TheCIPA elections, where every vote counts – but only up to seven.”  I think it might tip Mr Davies over the edge.

6 May 2015, 11 am
The Internal Governance Committee is talking about the CIPA offices.  In a couple of years our lease will expire and then we face a difficult choice, to wit:
  • massive, massive rent increases; or
  • massive, massive moving and refitting costs plus massive, massive dilapidations charges.
Alternatively we could move from the third floor to the fourth floor at 95 Chancery Lane, which Mr Davies is keen to do because the fourth floor is open plan and this makes it look like he has a bigger office even if he has to share it.

Later, Council members add their two penn’orth to the debate.  Let’s expand, they say, and then sub-let part of our premises as a commercial venue.  Let’s install a bar and a dance floor.  I think we are possibly straying from the objectives set out in our Royal Charter, and we might need more than Privy Council approval to get that one to work, but I don’t like to say.  We are having too much fun designing the cocktail menu.

Also at the Council meeting, I make a speech to thank the Pee for being a brilliant Pee, and I present her with a bottle of gin and some chocolate.  In my world gin and chocolate are two of the best things that can happen to you.  I then empty some straw out of my rucksack and at the bottom of it I find her one of the much-coveted Vice-Presidential medals from Tesco®, as a souvenir of our time together as Pee and VeePee.  She actually puts the medal on, which is incredibly sporting of her, I think.  There are not many people brave enough to wear a Tesco party medal and some bits of straw at a CIPA Council meeting.

In the second part of my Pee-to-Be speech I ask my fellow Council members for help being President, because clearly I am going to need it, being full of straw and all.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Fragile & motley at Airport Security

1 May 2015, 12.30 pm

I am in a taxi back to Glasgow airport, with Team CIPA.  Team CIPA is feeling a little bit fragile this morning.  Apparently this is because the drinks in Glasgow clubs are very cheap, and not at all to do with the fact that they therefore consumed too many. 

I wonder if anyone filmed the action at the club last night.  I am thinking a clip of Mr Lampert doing his dad-dancing (for which he is justifiably famous) would be a great addition to the diversity videos. 

In the taxi, we empty our bags to see how many paracetamol we have between us.  Luckily we have quite a few.  I also have some fragranced hand wipes and a bag that may or may not be sufficiently leak-proof but might just serve to protect the upholstery.

We arrive at Airport Security.  Forgive my digression, but Airport Security is completely bananas these days.  Not only do I have to find a separate plastic crate for every one of my electronic devices, including the ones that are asleep and have been for days; I also have to remove my boots, my jewellery, all but the very last layer of clothing and anything that might have been holding me together, for example belts and braces, pins and Blu-tack(R).  There appears to be an obsession with liquids, whether intended for systemic or topical use, in vivo or in vitro, and to help with this there is a large poster at the entrance to Security saying “What is a Liquid?”, just in case the wetness and flowingness and general not-wanting-to-assume-its-own-shapeness of a liquid had passed you by up till now.

We clearly look a motley crew because the CIPA folk get their bags searched and swabbed.  Honestly, I ought not to be seen out with these people.  I am a Potential Pee-to-Be.  I have to uphold my dignity.  Although without the pins and the Blu-tack, upholding anything is going to be tricky.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Constitutional Catastrophe

30 April 2015, 9 pm

Mr Davies is distraught.  He rings us up to confess that the election has gone wrong, all wrong, and it is The End of the World.  Apparently we miscounted the number of vacancies on Council – there are eight, not seven.  Never has there been such a Constitutional Catastrophe at CIPA, except for that time last year when not enough people turned up to vote for the new membership fees, oh yes and that time on Council when we couldn’t decide who should eat the last biscuit. 

Mr Davies hates people to think that CIPA is not perfect.  He thinks he should throw himself on his sword, only he does not have a sword, only a big walking stick with lights and bells on that he uses as a prop on stage.  So then he says he wants us to give him his P45, and he will sign it with his own guilty blood and he will never forgive himself and blah blah blah.

I tell him to shut up.

Listen, I say, you work with people who live in constant fear of realising they’ve only filed claims 1 to 5 of 15, or missed a deadline because they thought today was April 31st, or accidentally copied a client email to his competitors with details of his latest infringing activities.  Every single voting CIPA member dreads having to grovel for re-establishment of rights or an extra extension, has nightmares about picking up the phone to PAMIA to say, “You know that insurance I have…?”

So really, I explain, patent attorneys are not going to mind if a ballot goes slightly wrong and we have to start again.  It is still better than what happened in the last General Election, when we all dutifully cast our votes, and then actually got a government cobbled together out of bits of parties that other people voted for.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Spawning fish & recalcitrant laptops

30 April 2015, mid-day

In a huddle in a corner of the Glasgow hotel, I talk to some CIPA members about their business practice and regulatory problems.  Actually what happens is that they tell me what their problems were, and then they tell me how they solved them, and then I ask if CIPA could borrow their ideas please.

In the afternoon I chair the annual Scottish CPD seminar.  I have brought my Cowtrackingclangingthingen with me (I stuffed socks in them when I packed, to avoid traipsing through the airport sounding like Heidi).  They seem to have the desired effect.  The speakers do not go over time and we romp through a range of topics and apart from getting the guest speaker’s name and employer wrong, I think I get away with it. 

One of the talks is on something called the Nagoya Protocol.  This is to do with Biodiversity and not using Biodiverse things without saying thank you to the country you stole them from.  We somehow get talking about fish, because if you are using Biodiversity from fish then which country does the Biodiversity come from and who do you have to thank?  What if the fish were spawned upstream in another country somewhere?  What if they swam across national borders?  Only a roomful of patent attorneys could get into a debate about spawning fish on a Thursday afternoon in Glasgow. 

Mr Lampert then gives a wonderful talk about stakeholder engagement and tries to show us CIPA: The Movie with the watering can and the cartoon trees.  The laptop says No.  Mr Lampert says Oh please but the laptop still says No.  Then Mr Lampert tries to show us a mock-up of the new CIPA website but the laptop says No, not on your nelly.  So then Mr Lampert gets cross and shows us the video through YouTube® anyway and he gets a round of applause for his perseverance and his advanced social media skills. 

And then I stand up and say Look how impressive CIPA is these days.  The delegates do not seem convinced.  So I hand over to Ms Sear, and she makes them convinced alright.  Ms Sear can be quite scary.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A room with a view

29 April 2015, 8 pm

Back in Glasgow, I meet my hotel room.  It is, er, interesting.  It is, er, actually and literally in the concourse of Glasgow Central Station.  There is nothing between me and a hall full of commuters except an ill-fitting sash window and a bit of net curtain.  I can hear all the announcements and watch the trains coming and going, and see who pops into the wine bar on their way home from work and who pops into M&S® for a bit of light jousting with the self-service checkouts.  I can hear that the lady making the announcements is very, very bored.  Catatonically bored.  Her voice sounds like an elephant with adenoids, and it goes on almost without pausing till 11 o’clock at night.

I am also able to verify that the people who drive the motorised trolleys around stations, with their klaxons sounding and an air of urgency about them, do in fact do so completely randomly.  As I’m sure everyone suspected.  They might look as though they are Helping Customers and Delivering Stuff, but at the end of the working day they abandon their klaxon-toting dodgem cars wherever they want and leave, without having helped anyone or delivered anything.  I know this, because I have spent at least an hour monitoring them.  Better than checking emails.