Posts in Europe

WIPO Report: China Sees Massive Surge in IP Filings Across the Board

Worldwide IP filings increased by 3.6% in 2021, according to a report published November 21 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The increase came during a turbulent time for the world economy, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a global economic downturn. The biggest increase in patent filings was in Asia, where 67.6% of worldwide patent applications were filed. The United States saw a 1.2% decrease in filings and a 1% increase in trademark filings. Trademark applications grew at a much faster rate than patent applications, with a 5.5% in trademark filing activity. Industrial design filing activity also rose by 9.2% with the largest uptick again in Asia. China saw high rates of growth and is a global leader in sheer numbers across all indicators.

SEPs in Europe: From Huawei/ZTE to Apple/Optis, Europe Has Become a Friend to Patentees

During IPWatchdog’s Standards, Patents & Competition Masters 2022 program last week, one panel examined the standard essential patent (SEP) landscape in Europe, which has become decidedly more patent owner friendly than that of the United States in recent years. Beginning with the landmark 2015 decision by the European Court of Justice in Huawei v. ZTE, ([2015] EUECJ C-170/13), European courts have held SEP holders and implementers to account by applying the framework set forth in that ruling, which panelist Inna Dahlin of Valea AB summarized for attendees.

With Decision Looming on Extension of TRIPS IP Waiver, House Dems Want More Info, Industry and Advocacy Groups Battle for Public Narrative

On November 10, a group of Democratic members of congress sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai expressing concerns about extending a waiver of intellectual property rights under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement to therapeutics and diagnostics for the treatment of COVID-19. The letter comes as talks are heating up at the World Trade Organization (WTO) about such an extension, with the technical deadline for a decision being December 19. The letter poses seven questions for Tai to consider and respond to as she formulates the U.S. position on waiver extension, including whether the current waiver of IP rights for vaccine-related technology has been effective, how “diagnostics” and “therapeutics” will be defined, and that she provide a list of countries that have expressed interest in gaining access to American IP for COVID-related diagnostics and therapeutics.

Mexico and Switzerland Question Need for Extension of COVID IP Waiver

A communication from the governments of Mexico and Switzerland to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Tuesday raised a number of questions about the prospect of extending a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccine technologies to therapeutics and diagnostics. The Council met informally in September to discuss the extension, which technically has a deadline of December 19, six months after the Ministerial Conference decision finalizing a waiver on “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines” only. The final agreement contemplated extending the waiver to “the production and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics” within six months of adoption.

P.S., I Don’t Love You: UK Court Delivers Blow to Apple in FRAND Fight with Optis But Laments ‘Dysfunctional’ SEP Dispute System

The England and Wales Court of Appeal this morning said that Optis Cellular Technology is entitled to an injunction before a lower court has set fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for a license to Optis’ standard essential patents (SEPs) if Apple refuses to take a court-determined FRAND license. But in a post script to the ruling, Lord Justice Arnold said both Apple’s appeal and Optis’s cross-appeal “illustrate yet again the dysfunctional state of the current system for determining SEP/FRAND disputes” and that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and other standards development organizaitons (SDOs) should “make legally-enforceable arbitration of such disputes part of their IPR policies” to curb the problem.

How the Unified Patent Court Will Shake Up the Landscape of Patent Courts Worldwide

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) plans to open for business on April 1, 2023. Its likely place among the world’s preeminent patent courts can be inferred, at least in part, from the territorial and subject matter jurisdiction of this novel court. In Europe, several courts enjoy established reputations for patent litigation, notably in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Holland and Italy. These courts, as well as the European Patent Office (EPO), which also enjoys a strong reputation for its case law, are the preferred venues of plaintiffs for enforcing or seeking to invalidate European patents. Due to the size and economic weight of the region, the importance of European patents, and the bench of experienced patent judges and practitioners, Europe will without doubt continue to attract a substantial share of patent litigation worldwide.

Taking Control of the Game: How Sports Rights Owners are Fighting Piracy

On August 18, 2022, Albert Pujols hit a grand slam against Austin Gomber for his 690th career home run. A clip of that home run was posted on Reddit before the official Major League Baseball (MLB) app was updated. Three years ago, the post would have been taken down quickly. Today, it has thousands of fans commenting on it instead. In 2020, MLB reversed course on a long-established content policy by going beyond simply allowing fans to post clips and highlights of MLB games. They introduced Film Room, a product that lets fans search clips, make reels, and post them to social media. This decision was made with intent – to take back control over how its media was being used online. “I think we’re at the point now where we believe that making our content available for our fans, particularly our younger fans, in a way that’s easy for them to consume, is really important,” Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer told Sporting News.

How Wimbledon Tennis Trademarked its Signature Colors

July 10 marks the end of one of the most important events in the sporting calendar and one of the most iconic tennis tournaments in the world: Wimbledon. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (the “Club”) has owned multiple registered trademarks for the famous Wimbledon name and other prominent signs for some time. However, the dark green and purple colorway – which has been associated with the Wimbledon tennis tournament for over a Century – has only been protected as a registered trademark in the UK since 2016.

The TRIPS Waiver: What Does it Mean to Change the Rules of the Game?

A terrible idea – wayward and ill-conceived, criticized by all economic, political and geopolitical fronts – has come to fruition. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPs waiver on patents related to COVID-19 vaccines will disincentivize the entire industry from investing in vaccine production. To understand what happens next, let’s understand history first.

WTO Announces COVID Vaccine Waiver Deal That Virtually No One Wants

Following a week of round-the-clock deliberations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) this morning announced a deal on waiver of IP rights for COVID-19 vaccine technologies under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The final text has made almost no one happy and largely mirrors the draft text going into negotiations, with a few key changes. With respect to open questions in the draft text, the final agreement indicates that all developing country WTO Members will be considered eligible to take advantage of the waiver, but that those with “existing capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged to make a binding commitment not to avail themselves of this Decision.” This language is primarily targeted at China, which has publicly stated that it would not use the waiver provision but had objected to language based on percentage of global vaccine exports that would have categorically excluded it. The draft text had encouraged members with vaccine export capabilities to opt out rather than to make a binding commitment.

Vaccine Access Advocacy Groups Speak Out as COVID IP Waiver Talks Heat Up

The People’s Vaccine Alliance issued a statement today, one day before the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference is set to end, accusing the United Kingdom and Switzerland of being “major blockers of the TRIPS waiver for twenty months while millions have died without access to COVID-19 vaccines.” Anna Marriott, Policy Lead at the People’s Vaccine Alliance and Health Policy Manager at Oxfam, said the two countries “have repeatedly disrupted negotiations using the amendment process to ensure that any text is difficult to use or implement” and added: “It would be totally false for rich countries to shift the blame for the current state of TRIPS negotiations onto anybody else.”

WTO Conference Could End with Agreement on COVID Vaccine IP Waiver This Week

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 12th Ministerial Conference is set to take place this week, June 12-15, at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As part of the four-day meeting, discussions around the latest text of the proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19 vaccine technology will take place around the clock, and it is expected that some agreement will be reached. TRIPS Council Chair, Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone, said on June 7 that “delegations have entered into real negotiation mode in the last 24 hours,” and that she is “feeling cautiously optimistic now that we will get this text ready for adoption by ministers in time for the coming weekend.”

CJEU Advocate General Recommends Clarifying What Constitutes Trademark ‘Use’ by Online Intermediaries

On June 2, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a press release discussing the results of the Advocate General’s opinion on two actions filed by French footwear designer Christian Louboutin, one in Luxembourg and another in Belgium, against the Amazon group (Amazon) alleging trademark infringement. As detailed in the opinion, Amazon regularly advertises red-soled platform shoes which are for sale on its platform without the consent of Louboutin. Louboutin is the owner of the EU position mark referred to as the “red sole” for goods in International Class 25 covering “high-heeled shoes (and other orthopedic footwear).” The mark at issue “consists of the colour red (Pantone 18-1663TP) applied to the sole of a shoe.” Louboutin also has national protection for the mark in both Belgium and Luxembourg.

INTA: ‘COVIDIOT’ Trademark Should Prevail Under Narrower Test for Principles of Morality

The International Trademark Association (INTA) on Friday filed an amicus brief with the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO’s) Grand Board of Appeal, arguing that “the terms ‘public policy’ and ‘principles of morality’ are inherently vague and therefore carry with them a risk of an inconsistent application and a danger of each examiner being tempted to follow personal preferences rather than clear legal guidance” with respect to a trademark on the term “COVIDIOT” not being “fully in line with public standards.” The case is Matthias Zirnsack vs. EUIPO, Case R-260/2021-G.

Mossoff-Barnett Comment on EU Commission’s Call for SEP Evidence Spotlights Misconceptions About FRAND Obligations

On May 9, a comment signed by a coalition of 25 law professors, economists and former U.S. government officials, and co-written by Adam Mossoff, Law Professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Jonathan Barnett, the Torrey H. Webb Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, was submitted to the European Commission as a response to the EU governing body’s call for evidence on standard-essential patents. Like another recent response to the EU Commission by a group of scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), the Mossoff-Barnett comment attempts to dispel several misconceptions about the impact that SEPs have on the commercialization of new technologies, especially major communications technologies like 4G/LTE and WiFi that have been widely commercialized to the benefit of the vast majority of global consumers, thanks in large part to the patent rights that help to structure commercialization efforts.