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'Intellectual Property Rights as Allied Rights: Bill Cornish and the Making of Today’s Intellectual Property System'

Friday, 17 March 2023 - 9.00am
Location: Faculty of Law, LG19 (The Arthur Goodhart Lecture Theatre)

In 1981, Professor Bill Cornish published the first student textbook on ‘Intellectual Property’. The book was to prove hugely influential, as academic courses on the subject proliferated around the country. In turn, it spawned a host of imitators, all of whom stuck doggedly with the template Cornish had provided (of treating patents, copyright and trade marks together). However, now in its 9th edition, and curated and updated by Professors David Llewelyn and Tanya Aplin, the text has never been surpassed.

One of the most significant aspects of the book was its very categorisation. Entitled ‘Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights’, the textbook presented the distinct legal regimes as ‘allied’ in important respects. Forty years on from the publication of Cornish’s seminal text, ‘intellectual property’ has been cemented as a foundational legal concept. The term is deployed in international treaties, in regional instruments, in national constitutions, in domestic legislation; and is used to denominate governmental and non-governmental organisations, not least the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and the now numerous ‘intellectual property offices’ around the world. In the UK, the notion of ‘intellectual property’ serves to define the field of operation of distinct civil procedure rules, as well as the remedies available to litigators. Moreover, the concept figures in the names, and to define the operational fields of, professorial chairs; institutes (such as CIPIL, which was conceived under Bill’s watch and founded to coincide with Bill’s retirement), journals and scholarly organisations.

Of course, the concept of ‘intellectual property’ has not gone uncriticised, and its usefulness unchallenged. At this conference, we bring together scholars and practitioners, many of whom had a long and first hand relationship with Bill, to consider critically the origin, history, and utility of the notion of “intellectual property”, and more generally of thinking of trade marks, patents and copyright as “allied rights.”

Professor Sir Robin Jacob (morning);
Lord Justice Sir Richard Arnold (afternoon)

Confirmed speakers:
Daniel Alexander K.C. (8 New Square);
Professor Isabella Alexander (University of Technology, Sydney);  
Professor Tanya Aplin (Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College, London);
Dr Jennifer Davis (Wolfson College, Cambridge);
Professor Graeme Dinwoodie (Chicago-Kent);
Professor Pascal Kamina (University of Lyon);
Professor Annette Kur (Max Planck Institute);
Professor Kathy Liddell (Director of Centre for Law, Medicine and the Life Sciences, University of Cambridge);
Professor David Llewelyn (Singapore Management University);
Professor Ansgar Ohly (LMU, Munich);
Professor Sam Ricketson (University of Melbourne, by video link);
Professor Brad Sherman (University of Queensland)

More details (including the full programme) will be made available on this page soon.