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Utynam's Heirs

Judge Colin Birss loses his cool, while a Polish lawyer gets a little too aggressive

Counterfeiters beware!

Brand owners often appreciate lawyers that take an aggressive approach to counterfeiters (though usually the word used is 'robust'). However, one associate at Polish law firm Lazewski Depo & Partners may have taken slightly the wrong tone. In a high-tech video intended to market the firm's services, Mateusz Orlinski (right) concludes with a finger pointing straight at the screen, declaring "counterfeiters and other bad people, do not feel safe!"

Utynam understands that Mateusz has already received a fair amount of teasing among his fellow Polish lawyers for the video, so he will refrain from adding needless jibes. Some practical advice, however, would be that international clients are usually after a slightly more serious tone and approach. Also, it is good to take your coat off.

Mateusz's colleagues fare rather better, with straightforward explanations of the filing system in Poland or the various courts around the country. Associate Rafal Kloczko even adds a nice note about how everyone at the firm works as a team, and no one looks down on him. And Utynam awards extra points to Marek Lazewski for his bright-red cravat. Not enough lawyers wear cravats these days.

What’s funny about shiny knobs?

Utynam likes a judge with a sense of humour. But the justices do need to retain a straight face most of the time, lest it be suggested they are not taking the case entirely seriously. Judge Colin Birss in London's newly resurgent Patents County Court, who is already referred to in speaking engagements as "the judge who told Samsung their tablets weren't cool", failed in that task during a recent designs case.

Kohler Mira v Bristan concerned Community and unregistered design rights for showers, specifically the knobs or handles that control the mix of hot and cold water. During the hearing barrister Hugo Cuddigan was explaining to the judge that Mira was "plainly proud of the design of the knobs, the bespoke design of the knobs". He continued: "The only thing [the two products] really have in common [is] they are shiny and they are circular. Circular is accepted to be commonplace and shiny, well, shiny knobs, there is nothing new there."

All this was too much for Judge Birss, who began to interject with "sorry, Mr Cuddigan, on the evidence you haven't any, and they" before collapsing into giggles. The transcript covers the lapse with a polite "[inaudible]", before Birss recovers enough to say, simply, "brilliant".

Controversy at ASIPI

While Utynam enjoys a good interrogation as much as anyone, the 18th Congress of ASIPI in Punta del Este, Uruguay (below) during a session on greenwashing may not have been the perfect setting in which to ask a McDonald's representative what the company has been doing to combat obesity. María Rivero Ayerza of Arcos Dorados, the largest operator of McDonald's restaurants in Latin America, answered the question gracefully after pointing out it was not exactly the topic of the panel. But the first day of sessions at ASIPI – the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property – seemed to inspire frank talk.

During a subsequent session on patents and health registrations, one attendee delivered an impassioned speech on the recent decline of patent protection in Argentina. "All the generics think about is price; labs are not Mother Teresa, but if I have to choose between companies that research and those that copy, I choose research," said the attendee, to enthusiastic applause.

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