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Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute

QMIPRI Spotlight Series: Professor Jonathan Griffiths

In the fifth part of our series showcasing the research of members of Queen Mary’s Intellectual Property Research Institute (QMIPRI) we focus on Professor Jonathan Griffiths, Professor of Intellectual Property Law.

Jonathan Griffiths wearing a shirt and jacket

Professor Griffiths’s main research interests are in copyright law and in the relationship between intellectual property law and fundamental rights and he has written widely in both of these areas. 

Professor Griffiths is the editor of the United Kingdom chapter of the leading international treatise on International Copyright Law and Practice and is a member of the editorial and advisory boards of the Journal of Media Law, the Media and Arts Law Review and the Nottingham Law Journal.

In addition to his research, Professor Griffiths has been consulted on copyright policy by a number of public bodies including the UK Intellectual Property Office, the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat. He is a member of the European Copyright Society, a group of scholars working with the aim of creating a platform for critical and independent scholarly thinking on European copyright law.

What do you consider the most significant aspects of your work to be?

“I would say this has been my research on the relationship between constitutional and fundamental rights norms on the law of intellectual property. At the beginning of my career, many considered that there was no relationship at all between the two fields (in this jurisdiction at least). Gradually, over time, it has become widely accepted that fundamental legal norms do have a significant - and interesting impact - on IP.”

What is your proudest achievement when it comes to your research?

“In the relatively recent past, I am particularly pleased to have explained why the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products does not violate IP right-holders’ human fundamental right of property. Tobacco companies argued forcefully that standardised packaging legislation deprived them of their trade mark property rights. On the basis of my research, I argued that such laws did not breach the fundamental right of property in the European legal order. My argument was picked up by policy makers and lawyers involved in the issue. I was pleased to have played a part in dispelling an unfounded argument raised by powerful lobbyists.”

Is there anything surprising to come out of your research?

“The law of passing off prevents one trader from misrepresenting goods or services as being the goods and services of another. It also prevents a trader from falsely presenting goods and services as having an association or connection with another. Through my historical research on the law of passing off over the last 100 years, I have found that the way in which courts describe the form of property protected by the cause of action has changed gradually over the course of the century and that the current descriptions employed are out of line with the leading Judgments in the field. My work in this area has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last few months and I am looking forward to returning to it in due course.”

Read more about Professor Griffiths’s work on his Queen Mary profile page.



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