There used to be 10 cases of the year. It was a nice, round number and it meant all the cases were of the landmark variety, set to be referred to for years to come. Then, last year, in response to a suggestion from a reader, we added 10 more – "the ones you might have missed". This successfully highlighted cases from smaller courts or jurisdictions – Italy, Russia, Canada – that were both significant in their jurisdiction and had the potential to influence thinking abroad, yet could easily have been missing by busy IP practitioners.
This year, we struggled to keep that list to 10. It's hard to know whether that's because 2013 was a bumper year, or because we've just become less decisive. Either way, all of the 40 cases we selected for this edition of Cases of the Year have a strong argument for their inclusion.
A dispute over tea brands in Hong Kong might not immediately seem that important, but at a time when trade mark owners are flooding into Asia, a precedent-setting decision such as that in Tsit Wing Group v TWG Tea is worth mentioning. You could argue that two other cases in this year's list, Castel v Panati and Longchamp v Al International, deal with a similar subject, but they address distinct issues: Chinese language marks and design rights respectively.
There are, of course, still the blockbusters that Managing IP has covered consistently during the year, such as CLS v Alice, Google Books and Myriad (twice – in the US and Australia). But it is also good to be able to include cases that suggest how an area of law will develop, rather than treading old ground. Among those we would include are our two gTLD-related decisions, .patagonia and .polo. Both involved brand owners losing out, perhaps surprisingly, to community-based objections.
As with every year, the cases were entirely selected by Managing IP's team in Hong Kong, New York and London. No one could lobby for their own case to be included. We welcome comments on the cases and our selection. The most effective forums to do that are the stories online – the Magazine section of ManagingIP.com – and on Twitter, @ManagingIP. Do let us know what you think.