The OIPRC is the focus of intellectual property research at the university, not just in area of law but in other fields including economics and public policy.  The centre organises a termly intellectual property seminar series and the annual International Intellectual Property Moot.  The centre also hosts a number of academic visitors and research students annually.  Members of the Centre have developed enduring and collaborative relationships with leading intellectual property practitioners through the Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice.  The Diploma is a part-time vocational programme offered by the Law Faculty in collaboration between the University and the Intellectual Property Lawyer’s Association.

The OIPRC, now in its third decade, was established in 1990 at St Peter's College by Faculty member Peter Hayward, with an initial gift from the Hitachi Foundation.  The centre moved from St Peter’s College to the Faculty of Law in 2008.

For further information about the activities of the OIPRC, see our Annual Reports as well as the events page.

If you are interested in receiving information about our forthcoming events and activities at the centre, please subscribe to our maillist by sending a blank email and subject line to oiprc-subscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk.  You will be sent a confirmation request and, once you reply to it, a message confirming that you are a subscriber.  Subscribers can unsubscribe at any time by sending a blank email to oiprc-unsubscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk.  

Centre Contact: info@oiprc.ox.ac.uk 

Publications

  • D S Gangjee, 'Paying the Price for Admission: Non-Traditional Marks across Registration and Enforcement' in I Calboli and M Senftleben (eds), Non-Conventional Marks: Critical Perspectives (OUP 2018) (forthcoming)
    This chapter makes the case for joined-up thinking when approaching non-traditional signs in trademark law. Over the past three decades, trade mark registration has moved from up-front exclusions for certain categories of signs (no shapes, no colours) towards cautious and incremental acceptance. However the policy concerns generated by the grant of legal monopolies in such signs remain equally relevant today. The grant of an abstract colour mark to one trader closes off a part of the colour spectrum to others. Can we therefore allow such signs in to the system while successfully managing the tensions generated by their admission? Responding to this challenge, this chapter explores two potential responses. First, when permitting such marks to be registered, should we correlate the mark as characterised at the time of registration—agreeably modest in its scope and ambitions—with the mark as deployed in an enforcement context, where it otherwise tends to be read more generously? Second, when it comes to regulating non-traditional marks, should we move beyond historic upstream solutions—in the form of exclusions from registrability—and proactively consider additional scope limitation mechanisms when applying infringement tests and defences? Drawing on a range of EU and US decisions across various categories of non-traditional marks, the chapter argues that both questions should be answered affirmatively. Section II reviews the manner in which non-traditional marks came to be accommodated within trademark registration systems. Section III focuses closely on the characterisation of the mark at the time of registration. Trademark registration calls for a non-traditional mark to be depicted or represented (always), described (often) and classified according to type (where possible). This characterisation has profound consequences, as the ongoing Louboutin (C-163/16) red-soled shoes litigation before the Court of Justice demonstrates. Once characterised, the mark is then channelled into the relevant stream of substantive examination analysis. Since characterisation matters, applicants have learned to adapt, in order to overcome obstacles to registration. However where characterisation techniques have been used to subvert substantive criteria, registries and courts have responded by overriding the applicant’s own preferred characterisation with an objective assessment of the mark’s content. Section IV outlines the importance of consciously connecting the scope of the mark as characterised for the purposes of registration with its scope for the purposes of infringement. Section V concludes.
  • D S Gangjee, 'Trade Marks and Allied Rights' in R Dreyfuss and J Pila (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Property Law (OUP 2018)
    This chapter outlines the principal features of trade mark protection regimes, drawing primarily on EU and US materials to illustrate the underlying legal issues. It includes an outline of the principal allied rights; namely (i) unfair competition, (ii) passing off, (iii) publicity rights, (iv) geographical indications, and (v) domain names. The overview traces the incremental re-orientation of trade mark regimes in recent decades as they have moved beyond their traditional remit of origin-indication protection in response to claims that brand image needs to be better accommodated. In some cases, the ensuing broader scope of protection can have a detrimental impact on speech and inhibit marketplace competition. A draft is available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2923890
  • L Bently, B Sherman, D S Gangjee and P Johnson, Intellectual Property Law (5th edn OUP 2018)
    Intellectual Property Law is the definitive textbook on this subject - an all-embracing and detailed guide to intellectual property law. It clearly sets out the law in relation to copyright, patents, trade marks, passing off and confidentiality, whilst enlivening the text with illustrations and diagrams. (NB: Dev Gangjee has taken responsibility for Section IV: Trade Marks and Passing Off from the 5th ed.)
  • L H Porangaba, 'A Contextual Account of the Trade Mark Functions Theory' (2018) Intellectual Property Quarterly 230
    The functions theory continues to be one of the most contentious issues in contemporary European trade mark law. In this article, I propose a reading of the CJEU jurisprudence by emphasising the theoretical distinction between trade mark use doctrine, as a defensive theory of immunisation, and functions theory operating through a contextual assessment. By focusing on confusion-based claims, I argue that the development of the functions theory is intertwined with and most productively understood alongside the increasing role of context in trade mark infringement. It should be seen as a doctrinal device that, together with a more realistic (or hybrid) construction of the average consumer, enabled infringement assessment to be infused with market realities, in response to the problems of abstraction that an expansionary trade mark doctrine had created. The emerging approach to the origin function has important lessons for how other functions ought to be assessed during infringement analysis.
  • I Simon Fhima and D S Gangjee, The Confusion Test in European Trade Mark Law (OUP 2019)
    Historically, likelihood of confusion has been the core infringement test for trade mark law, and it remains the most frequently applied test in infringement actions by far. However, there are noticeable differences in how it is applied by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the General Court, and national courts; and questionable outcomes when it is applied in novel situations. This book is the first comprehensive and systematic account of the confusion test within the harmonised European trade mark system. It considers how the test is applied by national trade mark registries across EU member states, by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, by national courts, and by the CJEU. It offers practical guidance, while also evaluating more recent developments such as initial-interest confusion, post-sale confusion, the infringement of non-traditional marks and consumer responses to uses of trade marks on the internet.
  • L H Porangaba, Product Design and Trade Mark Use, paper presented at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Mar 2017
  • L H Porangaba, Actavis v Eli Lilly – Has Equivalence Lost Its Purpose?, paper presented at Oxford Intellectual Property Discussion Group, Apr 2018
    Until recently, the question of infringement in UK patent law had been one of purposive construction of the claim. Whether the underlying invention was a lintel used in construction, a handheld epilator or a method for the production of a hormone, scope of protection would ultimately turn on ‘what the person skilled in the art would have understood the patentee to be using the language of the claim to mean.’ Although such an approach promised to deliver a simpler, more predictable assessment, it attracted heavy criticism for providing only limited protection against infringement by equivalent means. In order to be infringing, immaterial variants – that is, modifications with no significant effect on how the invention works – still had to fall within the language of the claim. Hence extending vertically could mean something other than a 90-degree angle, but a helical spring would never be a rubber rod in the eyes of the skilled reader. This limiting character of purposive construction led a commentator to define it as ‘contextual literalism’, and many decried the UK approach as being inconsistent with the Article 69 Protocol to the European Patent Convention. In Actavis v Eli Lilly, the UK Supreme Court parted ways with tradition to embrace a self-standing doctrine of equivalents. Following a doctrinal distinction between the issues of (1) interpretation of patent claims and (2) scope of protection, infringement now unfolds into a two-stage assessment which notionally suggests a closer alignment with other European jurisdictions. But what may be seen as a methodological shift to ensure compliance with international obligations – and a laudable harmonisation effort in itself – may bring about a more significant change to the law of infringement. This paper attempts to investigate the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on patent policy and, in particular, the extent to which some of the normative propositions injected into this new equivalence regime are justified.
  • P Mysoor, 'Exhaustion, Non-Exhaustion and Implied Licence' (2018) International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 656
    DOI: 10.1007/s40319-018-0721-3
    This article explores how exhaustion and non-exhaustion of certain rights can be more coherently explained using the common law doctrine of implied licence. Exhaustion, as the name suggests, only focuses on the effect of the first sale or other transfer of ownership of the original or the copy of the work on the copyright owner, namely the consumption of the distribution right. Although the consumption is distinctly for the benefit of the transferee of the original or the copy, the provisions in the directives on exhaustion do not reveal the effect of exhaustion on these transferees, nor the policy justifications that drive such consumption. These provisions only provide simplistically that the distribution of goods exhausts, but the provision of services does not. This leads to certain misconceptions that exhaustion cannot occur if the copy of the work is not in a tangible medium and that for all provision of services authorisation is required. The doctrine of implied licence can help address these concerns. Instead of regarding exhaustion as a statutory phenomenon, reframing it as a licence implied by statute changes the focus from the right lost by the copyright owner to the permission gained by the transferee. Further, the doctrine of implied licence is sensitive to the justifications that drive the implication of the licence, addressing the question as to why exhaustion must occur. Therefore, a framework called the Implied Licence Framework for Exhaustion is proposed here, which not only offers a better explanation for exhaustion and nonexhaustion, but also dispels the misconceptions.
  • P Mysoor, 'Proprietary Estoppel and Copyright Law' (2018) King's Law Journal 470
    In the copyright context, courts have applied proprietary estoppel to assess whether an implied bare copyright licence has become irrevocable. In doing so, courts have derived principles of proprietary estoppel developed in land law. However, in the land law context, in the last few decades, courts have moved towards a unified approach to proprietary estoppel, resulting in a loss of nuance. In particular, the acquiescence-strand of proprietary estoppel has fallen been neglected in this process of unification. This article argues that in order to do justice in copyright cases, the acquiescence-strand of proprietary estoppel must be resurrected, and the trend in land law towards a unified approach must be reversed, bringing more nuance into the assessment of proprietary estoppel in copyright cases.