June 2007

David Shavin in the High Court recently:

It is not an overstatement, although some may regard it as slightly melodramatic, to say that there are aspects of trade mark law which can be seen to be inexorably sliding out of control. This Court, and only this Court, can bring it back to its true course. In a series of decisions culminating in the decision in this case, successive Full Federal Courts have failed to appreciate the true nature of a trade mark as defined by section 17 of the Act.

The High Court was not convinced, refusing BP special leave to appeal from the Full Federal Court’s rejection of its trade mark application for green as the predominant colour of service stations. According to Justices Gummow and Hayne, t’o the extent that the applicant seeks to assert that the Full Court made errors of law in the construction of provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth), we are not persuaded that these contentions enjoy sufficient prospects of success to warrant a grant of special leave’. This is interesting, as the Full Court decision certainly isn’t without its critics.

I opened the Fin Review today to see a double page ad spread for the new afr.com. Fantastic, I thought; they’ve ditched the awful experiment that was AFR Access and reverted to an html-based site that I can actually use.

For those who never subscribed, the Fin Review originally had one of the best on-line services (see a sample view), with some stories free to all users, and some only available to subscribers. I used the free service since 1996 or 1997, and then had a subscription via my former employer, which I used daily.

Then for some reason Fairfax decided to switch to a flash-based version in mid 2006, called AFR Access. I tried it a couple of times, and gave up: it was impossibly slow, unwieldy, and offered no benefits at all over the former version — while introducing plenty of needless annoyances and a poor user interface. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was put off, as someone a few months ago mentioned a Crikey story that there were only 2,000 subscribers, about 1/10th of the budgeted amount. (Just found it – here it is.) (more…)

To continue the renewal, we have also updated the site’s look and feel. Not a huge change, but I think it’s cleaner and quicker-loading, and I hope you agree.

There is also a “mobile” skin, for those accessing LawFont through a hand-held device, which reduces the amount of data loaded and formats better for a small screen — no need to select it, as it should kick in automatically(“WordPress mobile” from AlexKing.org).

There’s been quite a bit of activity over the past few weeks with respect to Australian press freedom and the impact of the anti-terrorism legislation passed back in 2005.

Fairfax’s Chairman, David Kirk, recently addressed the Australian Press Council. Mr Kirk had quite a bit to say, including announcing that Fairfax will join News Ltd, the ABC, Free TV Australia and SBS in the recently formed coalition “to preserve, protect and promote press freedom in Australia”. The campaign is called “Australia’s Right to Know” (I’ll call it ARK) – it’s a lobby group which is Canberra bound. There was some chat about it on ABC The Media Report yesterday with Lucinda Duckett of News Ltd on-air to explain the reasons behind ARK. Seems source material is harder and harder to get these days. Clearly no news is not good news. (more…)

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