Scottish Group Annual Lecture

August 31, 1999

John Sibbald of Professional Library Services is Chairman of theScottish Group and the magazine’s Scottish Consulting Editor.

A very good attendance of around 60 at the lecture, of whom some 45 went onto the supper afterwards, gives the impression that this event, introduced justthree years ago, is starting to take root in the legal consciousness: and thisdespite the possibly rather daunting title of the lecture ‘Intellectualproperty in a peripheral jurisdiction.’

It would, of course, be an affront to those who attended to suggest thatincreasing numbers owed anything to the reputation of the hospitality providedby Arthur Lodge, a wonderful, privately owned, Georgian fantasy restored byprevious owners in a definitely ‘no holds barred’ style of decoration. Whereelse would you encounter a trompe l’oeil dining room ceiling showing theapotheosis of Lord Byron being greeted at the gates of heaven by Saint Andrewand Robert Burns?

Professor Hector MacQueen, Professor of Private Law and Dean Elect of theFaculty of Law at the University of Edinburgh, also rose to the occasion,delivering a magisterial review of the intellectual property issues facing thecourts, industry, the professions and legal clients here in Scotland. In thecircumstances of legislation on the topic being reserved to Westminster, withthe thrust of so much development originating in Brussels and with the maincentres of the intellectual property world usually perceived to be London,Munich, Washington or Tokyo, his paper sought to identify the questions relatingto the development of a more appropriate intellectual property regime forScotland. He described how the recently established Shepherd and WedderburnCentre for Research in Intellectual Property and Technology (SCRIPT) could playa significant role in researching and articulating the needs of industry inScotland.

He spoke about the significance of IP in terms of developing Scottishbusiness and entrepreneurship and how Scots law and its handling of the transferof intellectual property rights could provide a strong incentive for thoseseeking either to legislate or even bring their businesses to Scotland. In hisreview of global IP issues, he seemed, like Puck, to put a girdle round theearth — and, after all, is not the bottom line of IP ‘That every man shouldtake his own’ as distinct from someone else’s property rights?

The Scottish Group was particularly delighted to welcome John Irving , one ofthe Society’s Joint Chairmen and a number of other guests, amongst whom wereMichael Scanlon (President of the Law Society of Scotland and a Vice Presidentof the Society for Computers & Law), Francis McConnell (President of the SSCSociety), Lord James Douglas Hamilton MSP, Christine Grahame MSP, the Hon. LordsKingarth and Nimmo Smith (Court of Session judges with special responsibilityfor IP matters), Professor Alan Paterson (University of Strathclyde) and DrRobert Milne (Scottish Software Federation). Other guests and membersrepresented a wide range of professional legal bodies, including the ScottishLawyers European Group, the Faculty of Advocates IT Group, the Scottish LawAgents Society, The Law Society of Scotland’s In House Lawyers’ Group andthe Scottish Young Lawyers Association — all a tribute in the first instance tothe pulling power of the speaker, in the second to the growing awareness thathis chosen topic increasingly affects all of our lives, and in the third, to anincreased perception of the requirements of Scottish businesses of all sizes tohave their interests more effectively protected.

The text of Professor MacQueen’s address was published in full on the SCLScottish Group Web site and if space permits is to be in the next issue.