Farewell editorial

Tomorrow, at the JIPLP 10th Anniversary Conference, Founder Editor Jeremy Phillips steps down from the editorship.  Here's his farewell editorial:
Ten years after its launch, JIPLP has established itself as a leading forum for serious discussion and comment on matters of concern to the community of intellectual property owners and their professional advisers. It is by no means the only such forum, but its footprint is a large one, embracing the classical model of the formal, peer-reviewed article at one extreme and the informality of a Twitter account and LinkedIn discussion group at the other. Between the two sits both an official website which provides an entry to the journal's entire archive as well as access to articles and other content that has yet to be printed and a more informal blog with which readers can engage.

That JIPLP has been able to spread its content and its influence through so many channels is a tribute to the blend of conservatism and quality control mixed with a willingness to experiment that has been shown by its publisher, Oxford University Press. OUP, with half a millennium of publishing tradition behind it, is a curious beast, combining the stately dignity of an educational institution with the responsibilities of a charity and the sharp reflexes of a commercial business. Working with OUP is an education in itself.

JIPLP has seen a good deal of change over the past decade, both internally and externally. The shift from human-only operations to an online peer-to-publication system for the submission and processing of articles initially caused some complaints that IP publishing had become commoditised, but it is now well established as the swiftest and safest way of dealing with articles offered to the journal. In reality it should be no more necessary to write to an individual who is editing a journal and engage him in correspondence concerning an incoming article than it should be necessary for a prospective passenger to petition a bus-driver to take him to his destination. JIPLP's system commoditises the process of reviewing, correcting, sometimes rewriting, proofing and publishing articles, but the author remains an individual who engages with the JIPLP team in an organised manner in which each team member knows what is happening to an article and can access it at any time.

A well-organised publishing team is rather like a high-performance car which is admired for its speed and grace, though the components that enable it to perform so powerfully are out of sight of both drivers and spectators. JIPLP's engine functions so effectively because of the people whose contributions are often unknown or unappreciated. On the management side first Chris Rycroft, then Luke Adams and Rhodri Jackson, have been the “alternators”, alternately representing the interests of OUP to its editor and the enthusiasms of its editor to OUP. Special mention should also be given to that one part of the production process which has remained constant over the past decade: the editorial input of Sarah Harris. With a first-rate legal education combined with decades of legal publishing experience, Sarah has always been the steadying hand at the tiller and a source of sage advice for colleagues, peer reviewers and contributors alike. I offer my gratitude to them and to their many fellows, unnamed here but far from being taken for granted.

Among the most satisfying achievements of JIPLP during the past decade came when the hand of friendship and collaboration was extended to us by GRUR, the association of German intellectual property lawyers and academics. This collaboration has led to the publication of JIPLP material in GRUR Int. and vice versa, and also to a thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling series of joint seminars held alternately in London and Munich. This unique relationship has enabled the traditions of common law to be explained, if not necessarily appreciated, in Germany and for the traditions of the civil law to be explained, if not necessarily understood, in JIPLP's home territory. The friendships that have developed through this relationship have grown stronger as it has progressed and have enabled the two sides to overcome their initial hesitations and differences.

There have been some disappointments too, the principal one being the selfish attitude of a number of the contributors whose work I have edited. In the world of intellectual property law, a world in which there are far more readers than writers, I have too often had to remind the latter that any article that is to be published in JIPLP, a peer-reviewed journal, is to be written for the benefit of the reader, not the amusement, enjoyment or self-advancement of the writer. In short, the writer should seek to be the reader's servant if ever he is to be his master. When pressed, and asked what sort of article they would like to read, these selfish authors list the following virtues: it should be short, or at least no longer than necessary to convey one or more clearly-identified points; its objective should be stated at the outset and it should deliver that objective; it should provide reference to only as many cases, statutes or articles as are needed by the reader to verify or build upon the points the author makes, and it should be written as one colleague might write to another, not as one might address a judge in court or a politician in the lobby. May they only heed their own words.

In handing over to a triumvirate of editors, I give them my affectionate support and my confidence that they will take JIPLP to new levels. They offer a variety of legal and academic experience, coupled with linguistic talent, to which I as an individual could never aspire. Their imagination, diligence and foresight will surely blend to produce a heady mix of the pure and the pragmatic, the judicial and the jurisprudential, which our readers and subscribers so roundly deserve.

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