No "Nerd" Retiring! Farewell and Congratulations to Lord Justice Jacob

No "Nerd" Retiring! Farewell and Congratulations to Lord Justice Jacob

Giuseppina D’Agostino is the Founder and Director of IP Osgoode, and an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.

On the occasion of his retirement from the bench, we would like to commend The Rt Hon Lord Justice Robin Jacob, of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (and member of IP Osgoode’s International Advisory Council).

Lord Justice Jacob’s contribution to the courts, jurisprudence and the administration of justice, and particularly to the intellectual property field are well-known.  In a packed room in London’s Royal Courts of Justice, on March 22, 2011, the Valedictory Remarks praised his intellect, procedural reforms in the courts, command of IP law, sense of humour, Denning-esque judicial writing style and his commitment to junior members of the bar and students. 

I first met Lord Justice Jacob when I was pursuing my doctoral work at the University of Oxford.  As one of the founding organizers, under Prof David Vaver’s leadership, we invited him to preside over the finals of Oxford’s International Intellectual Property Moot, first held in 2002, where he has now become a regular, and in Oxford’s first Mock Trial, held that same academic year.  My first impression was “wow”.  I was expecting to meet someone much older given all of his accomplishments and was struck by his sharp wit and affable humour in delivering his judgments.

His engaging judgments have been able to reach even wider audiences around the world.  And here the Valedictory Remarks wonderfully illustrate one of Lord Justice Jacob’s most scintillating judicial observations:

… Fifthly, it is said that his wonderful sense of humour and his engaging and idiosyncratic character cannot be lost to the Court of Appeal. Consider his judgment in Rockwater v Technip where he described that figure, familiar to patent practitioners, a man skilled in the art.  “It is settled”, said Lord Justice Jacob, “that this man, if real, would be very boring — a nerd.”   Later, he said: “The man can, in appropriate cases, be a team — an assembly of nerds.  But”, he continued, “the skilled man is not a complete android.”  The other members of the Court of Appeal agreed.

Lord Justice Jacob’s scholarship rivals his judgments with the same, Jacob-esque trade-marked writing style. In his foreword to The Common Law of Intellectual Property: Essays in Honour of David Vaver  he exclaims, “Damn, another bloody festschrift.  There should be a law against them.”

For its part, IP Osgoode has benefited immensely from Lord Justice Jacob’s generosity with his time and his wisdom.  We are proud that Lord Justice Jacob was our first distinguished speaker after IP Osgoode was launched in October 2008.  The subject was “The Scope of a Patent: Claim Construction and Equivalents”.  IPilogue blogged on this event held on November 4, 2008, and IP Osgoode’s Events Archive has a webcast of Lord Justice Jacob’s remarks.

More recently, Lord Justice Jacob honoured the Toronto IP Bar as the Harold G. Fox Lecturer on February 18, 2011, held in conjunction with the Harold G. Fox Moot.  Sangeetha Punniyamoorthy and Thomas Kurys, organizers of the moot (and Osgoode Alumni), blogged on the event:  “Lord Justice Jacob discussed ‘The Common Law of IP’ and pondered whether it was time to bury the American Cyanamid test for an interlocutory injunction.”  The Fox Lecture will be published in the upcoming spring issue of the Intellectual Property Journal edited by myself and Prof Vaver.

We wish Lord Justice Jacob all the best in his future endeavours teaching, speaking, and travelling, and hope that he will have the occasion to visit us again soon.