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This week's IP news round-up

20 April 2005

A belated welcome to this week’s Own It intellectual property round up.

First, we head to the dreaming spires of Oxford where traditionalists are up in arms over the university’s plans to capitalise on its brand. According to the times, Oxford University is selling ‘brand licensing’ packs to companies around the world, allowing them to use the ‘Oxford’ brand on a wide range of products from champagne to baby wear.

Hmmm. As John Williamson of brand consultancy Wolff Olins asked in the Times: “is flogging academic toys an appropriate action for an august institution? I think it’s absolute rubbish.” Meanwhile Miles Davis, managing director of the newly-formed Oxford Limited, admitted “a little while ago commercial was in the same part of the Oxford English Dictionary as prostitution at this university…”

Commercial in the same part as prostitution? We’ll stick to our Collins Mini Gem.


And so we go north to Manchester where an airport has had to pay thousands of pounds to passengers for unlawfully photographing them. Photographs are taken by Manchester airport staff as passengers on domestic flights go through security. The intention is to ensure that people get on the correct flights and also to prevent domestic passengers borrowing boarding cards from international passengers in order to buy duty free goods.

However, two passengers who refused to be photographed were briefly detained and photographed without their permission. The court held this to be in breach of data protection legislation and awarded damages to two passengers of £4,000 and £2,000 respectively. Oops.

And finally to the High Street and the class struggle that is Monsoon and Primark. The former (bo-ho chic for the chattering classes) is suing the latter (cheap and cheerful chic for the chav classes) for allegedly copying some of its clothing designs. According to Monsoon, Primark copied a zigzag skirt, a curved panelled skirt, tropical print swimwear, some trousers, a scarf and a pair of socks. The company is claiming damages in addition to the £23,000 they paid last may for copying a Brittany top and a butterfly dress. To make matters worse, Primark are also being sued by Swedish fashion giant Hennes for allegedly copying a Chinese-style patter and a target design. And they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling intellectual property laws.

Until next week…

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