News Snippets

April 30, 2006

Gowers Review: SCL’s Latest Submission


SCL’s Response to the Call for Evidence made by the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property was submitted at the end of April. A small sub-committee of SCL members compiled SCL’s response. The sub-committee (Gillian Cordall of Lewis Silkin, Nick Cunningham of Wragge & Co and Laurie Kaye of Laurence Kaye Solicitors) have had to work under great pressure to produce a response and the SCL Trustees have expressed their gratitude for their efforts.  Readers may be aware that the Gowers Review arises to a large extent from the increasing pace of technological change and seeks “to provide a sound foundation for the Government’s long-term strategic vision for IP” and to ensure “that IP systems remain appropriate in the face of global economic and technological change and the increased importance of the knowledge economy worldwide”.


You can read the full SCL response on the SCL Web site.


Decentring Forum


An exciting new initiative is planned for October. SCL has joined with the Centre for IT & Law at the University of Bristol in planning a policy forum which will address the changing roles of government and the private sector in determining and enforcing acceptable online behaviour. What makes the Policy Forum stand out from other SCL events is that it is not a training event – the focus is on a free exchange of ideas among the invited attendees. The hope is that the Forum will provide valuable input to those tasked with developing future regulatory policy and commercial practice and foster new relationships between researchers, policy makers and business.


Watch for further details on the SCL Web site.

Internet Libel

There were two interesting developments in cases on Internet libel in March.

In the most recent, which was widely reported in the national press for its fun value, a former parliamentary candidate for the UK Independence Party has been awarded £10,000 in damages. The case, Keith-Smith v Williams, is one of the first of its kind between two private individuals to go to court and highlights issues that would become more prominent as Internet usage continues to grow and blogging, social networking and community sites become yet more popular.


March also saw judgment in another extraordinary libel case, Bunt v Tilley [2006] EWHC 407 (QB), in which the defendants included the prominent ISPs AOL, Tiscali and BT. It was extraordinary for its apparent hopelessness if nothing else but repays careful reading. As Mr Justice Eady described it, prior to dismissing the claim against the ISPs:

It is important in the context of the present applications that it is not pleaded that any of the three corporate Defendants has at any stage “hosted” any website relevant to these claims. The basis upon which the Claimant seeks to establish his causes of action is that the individual Defendants published the offending words “via the services provided” by their ISPs. The claim therefore raises points of general significance as to the basis upon which a provider of such services could, if at all, be liable in respect of material which is simply communicated via the services which they provide.


For further details, visit




Changes made to China’s Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy will significantly strengthen the rights of ‘.cn’ and ‘Chinese character’ domain name owners. Nobody advising clients with worldwide remits or dreams can now ignore developments in this vibrant market.  The amendments made by China’s domain name registry, CNNIC, include three significant changes. The first, and perhaps most important, change is that the limitation period for domain name disputes has been clarified. Secondly, further explanation of the meaning of ‘bad faith’ has been provided. Thirdly, aspects of domain name ownership have been clarified.


For a full account, see the piece by Linda Chang, an Executive at Rouse & Co. International’s Shanghai office, which can be found in the News section of the SCL Web site.