« May it please the court »
- Valeriya Tsekhanska, Séverine Dusollier, Charles Guillaume et Hannah Bracken
“May it please the court”, Sciences Po Law Scool at the Oxford International Intellectual Property Moot
Are fireworks and cockatoo performances protected by copyright law in Erewhon, a fictional country whose law closely resembles that of the United Kingdom? Can the trainer of these cockatoos be considered a performer even if he is not visible to the audience? These are just two of the questions from the controversial case argued by the participants, including three Sciences Po Law School students, of the Oxford International Intellectual Property Moot. This year marked the 16th edition of this prestigious moot court competition and the first time in just two attempts that a Sciences Po Law School team has qualified, based on its scores in written submissions, to participate in the oral round of the competition. The team included three pleaders: Hannah Bracken, Charles Guillaume and Valeriya Tsekhanska. Professor Séverine Dusollier, the Director of the law school Master’s degree specialty in intellectual property or “droit de l’innovation”, coached the team.
After two trains between Paris and Oxford, and dragging a large duffel bag filled with binders of the relevant jurisprudence required for the analysis of the judges during each pleading, the Sciences Po Law School team joined the 27 other finalists of the moot court at Oxford University’s Pembroke College, from March 15th to 17th 2018. It turns out two trains was nothing, as other teams had traveled much further, coming from Australia, Canada, India and the United States, but also from nearby Cambridge. Even if the case, cockatoos and all, demonstrated the well-known British humor, the pleadings themselves were serious.
For each of the four rounds, two or three judges (solicitors or barristers specialized in intellectual property) presided over the proceedings and, after listening to one hour and ten minutes of arguments, would determine if the appellant or the respondent gave the better pleading, thereby winning the round. Sciences Po Law School, alias “LORIKEET” since the identities of all teams remained anonymous, plead twice as appellant and twice as respondent. With each round, the confidence of the Sciences Po Law School team – the only French team, but which was composed of students from Ukraine, the United States, as well as France – grew. This confidence was sorely needed particularly when Sciences Po Law School faced the London School of Economics in its fourth round. At the end of the day, Sciences Po Law School won all of its four rounds.
With this perfect score, the Sciences Po Law School team left the competition since its combined score was not high enough to advance to the quarterfinals. But the party continued because the moot court is not just work. There were many social events from welcome drinks and daily English breakfasts to formal dinners. It was only fitting given the importance of fireworks to the year’s case, that a professional pyrotechnician also gave a speech (without real fireworks). The Sciences Po Law School team has fabulous memories and is ready to coach future Sciences Po Law School participants in the moot to reach the finals, which take place before judges from the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Stay tuned for news from next year’s Sciences Po Law School team! The participation of the Sciences Po Law School team was made possible by the generous support of the law firm Fréget Tasso de Panafieu, Air Liquide, and the law firms Hoyng Rokh Monégier, Vercken & Gaullier avocats, BAGS avocats, IP Trust and Regimbeau.