The Gowling WLG Intellectual Property (IP) Moot is Singapore’s only Intellectual Property mooting competition. It is organized by the NUS Law Mooting and Debating Club (MDC), and proudly sponsored by Gowling WLG and JurisAsia LLC with supported from the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

Going strong in its third year running, the moot continues to provide an attractive stage for law students interested in the area of IP Law. After facing the gruelling preliminary and semi-final rounds, four finalists emerged in an all-NUS final.

The Moot Problem

The finalists debated on the challenging issue surrounding the ownership of copyright in content produced by computer software. With the moot problem centering on the novel interaction between artificial intelligence and IP, the finalists made interesting submissions to the court, namely on whether it should go to the software or the authors of the software to define this relationship, grappling with the issue of ownership of the content generated by software.

The Judges

The Finals were presided by a panel of esteemed judges consisting of Mr Mark Lim, Mr Gordon Harris, and Ms Sheena Jacob.

Mr Mark Lim is a Director of Hearings and Mediation at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). Prior to joining IPOS in 2010, he was a lawyer in private practice for 15 years whose work encompassed many areas of IP law. Having also authored many articles and journals in both local and international publications, he is  recognised as a leading IP lawyer in a number of international publications.

Ms Sheena Jacob is the Managing Director of JurisAsia LLC. She is no stranger to the Gowling Moots, having been a familiar face since its inception, and dedicating her time to judge at this year’s competition since the preliminaries. She is a leading IP and technology lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience in the field. Cutting-edge and complex IP litigation matters are all in a day’s work for her.

Flying down from the UK just to judge the Gowling Moot Finals for the third year in a row is Mr Gordon Harris, Global Co-Head of Intellectual Property, Gowling WLG. A feisty IP litigator recognised by the prestigious World Trademark Review and Chambers Directory, Mr. Harris has litigated in the UK and European Courts, and has contested the validity of patents in the European Patent Office and the UK Supreme Court.

The Finals

The first speaker was Arjit Pandey (Y1, NUS), who represented the Appellant. In response to questions posed by the bench, Arjit gave well-thought out and measured responses, which allowed him good control over his flow or arguments. It was certainly an impressive attempt for a first-year student not just delivering full submissions before a moot bench for the first time, but also on the unfamiliar area of IP law.

 

Next, Joshua Ng (Y2, NUS) represented the Respondent. For those who do not know Joshua, know now that his sense of humour includes posting an Insta-story of him mooting to judges he drew on a whiteboard at a practice round. This must have been ample preparation, given Joshua’s quick-fire responses to the judges’ questions which were well-integrated into his submissions. This was certainly an impressive conclusion to an exciting round!

 

Next, Samuel Teo (Y2, NUS) appeared on behalf of the Appellant. Clear and articulate, Samuel was lauded for his efforts in pursuing a novel claim. Deftly answering questions that came his way, he was however stopped when asked to ponder about the number authors on a software like Microsoft Word. Admittedly, this was question which intrigued fellow audience members as well. Still, his content and style were surely an impressive display of advocacy.

Finally, in response to the issue on copyright ownership, Elizabeth Liang (Y4, NUS) firmly defended her client. Elizabeth began her submissions with a unique argument, stating that the purpose of copyright laws was to serve the public interest, and that copyrights lie in neither parties but rather in the public domain. In her closing submissions, the bench clarified, “Did you seriously analogise a programmer and his software to a parent and their child?” To which she wittily quipped, “well, I suppose most programmers would consider their software as their babies”, a response which drew smiles and laughter from judges and audience alike.

 

Judge’s comments

Mr Mark Lim began the feedback session, and remarked that dealing with AI is complex even for experienced IP practitioners. Despite rather hostile questioning, the finalists held their grounds. The judges congratulated them for a job well done and hoped that more students would consider practicing in IP.

Results

Second runner-up: Joshua Ng and Elizabeth Liang

First runner-up: Samuel Teo

Champion of Gowling WLG IP Moot 2019: Arjit Pandey

The finals of the Gowling WLP IP Moot was an exciting one. All four finalists made outstanding submissions, having worked on the final problem extensively. Congratulations to all the winners of the Gowling moot!

 

Photography by Jerrick Lim (MDC, Y1).