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This was (almost) the title of the first article I ever had published externally, back in March 2007 when I had been in the IP Litigation department of my firm for about 8 months.

I’m pleased to say my own style has developed since those early days, but when you’re starting out it’s worth bearing in mind not just what you are going to say but also where you are going to say it: you may have a choice about where your creative endeavors are published. Having submitted articles and notes to a few different publishers, experience has shown me that the main difficulty with external articles, as opposed to those published within the Business Development and Knowledge Management functions of your law firm, is choosing the editor to whom you will cede final control of your work.

Clearly, you should do what you can to avoid any publisher who is unlikely to be familiar with the intricacies of the facts of a case, or to appreciate the subtleties of the ratio decidendi (a particular problem when the word limit doesn’t permit extensive analysis of the factors leading to a particular conclusion nor treatment of what the author is not saying). Consider too that an editor will likely feel at liberty to make minor changes without consulting the author (rightly), such as in layout and the style of language used, but if a look through past articles demonstrates lots of examples of jarring sentences, or paragraphs not flowing and joining ideas particularly well, then don’t just assume it’s always an author’s fault. The piece might actually have become disjointed, as if it was the product of two minds, because an editor has made too many changes or has been too quick to make them.

Be aware too that publishers might run articles through “Find and Replace All” without checking them too closely afterwards. Sometimes consistency or house-style will require changes to be made to certain spellings, but where a particular alternative is used as a proper noun (e.g. the UK’s “Trade Marks Act”), then you may prefer it to be left as is, even if it is acceptable for other instances of the alternative spelling to be amended (e.g. “trade marks” becoming “trademarks”) for the sake of the wider audience. Take control of it: if something is important the way it is, tell the publisher.

All of this is important, of course, because your name will be attached to your work. You will want to write not just because you enjoy your work (hopefully that will be the case) but also to show others that you know what you’re talking about and that your knowledge is right up-to-date. The last thing you want is for people to read your work and think less of you.

By the way, my article (which can be found here) discusses issues of similarity of marks and goods/services in a dispute relating to the branding of fruit juices. It also offers some clarification on what is meant by a trademark owner’s “acquiescence” in a third party’s use of a mark.