Posts in Europe

SEP Battles in Europe, 2022: Fair, Reasonable and—Unlike the Whisky Wars—Not Over Yet

The past year has proven a difficult one for many. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the death of the UK’s longest reigning monarch are among the things for which the year will be remembered. But amid those dark days, one less known event shines like a tiny candle of hope: the end of the Whisky War. For 50 years, Canada and Denmark have been in dispute over the ownership of Hans Island: a battle in which the principal weapons have been strong drink and a sense of humor….. The standard essential patent (SEP) wars may feel like they have been going on for almost as long as the Whisky war. They are not as close to resolution, but 2022 has seen some progress.

Five Key Trademark, Design and Copyright Developments in Europe, 2022

Expect further developments in the passage of the designs package next year, as the details are debated in the European Parliament. Despite the extensive consultation already carried out, it is possible that changes will be made to the proposals before a final version is agreed. And the UK Supreme Court will hear the SkyKick case concerning bad faith. A judgment can be expected before the end of the year.

Five Patent Highlights from Europe in 2022

The long-awaited introduction of the Unitary Patent and UPC should provide much interest in 2023, with attention likely to focus on the early numbers of applications for unitary effect, as well as the number of European patents opted out and the volume and nature of cases brought before the Court. At the EPO, decisions are expected from the Enlarged Board of Appeal in Case G 2/21, which concerns plausibility and post-published evidence, and Cases G 1/22 and G 2/22, concerning entitlement to priority. Oral proceedings in G 2/21 were held on 24 November. And the UK Supreme Court should hear the DABUS case and deliver its judgment in 2023.

Bringing Unwilling Licensors to the Table

Some months ago, two courts in Germany granted injunctions against Oppo, one based on a standard essential patent (SEP), and another on a non-SEP related to Wi-Fi. Rather than cave to the demands of Nokia, Oppo has since decided to pull its products out of the German market. Since then, some commentators have claimed that this is another example of so-called “implementers” engaging in hold out. They point to the need for strong injunctive relief in order to force these “unwilling” licensees to the table.

EU Unified Patent Court Delays Opening by Two Months

The European Union Unified Patent Court (UPC) announced this week that the court’s Sunrise Period will be delayed by two months. The Sunrise Period has a new planned opening date of March 1, 2023, with the entry into force of the UPC Agreement (UPCA) pushed to June 1, 2023. In an official announcement, Klaus Grabinski, President of the UPC Court of Appeal, and Johannes Karcher, Acting Chairman of the Administrative Committee, said, “the additional time is intended to allow future users to prepare themselves for the strong authentication which will be required to access the Case Management System (CMS) and to sign documents.”

UK Judge Delivers Mixed Ruling on Copyright Infringement in the Famous Love Story that Inspired Doctor Zhivago

Anna Pasternak is the Claimant in a recent copyright case at the UK High Court of Justice and author of Lara: The Untold Love Story That Inspired Doctor Zhivago (“Lara”). Lara is a non-fiction, historical book that was published in the United Kingdom in August 2016. It is a love story of Pasternak’s great uncle, Boris Pasternak, poet and author of the book Doctor Zhivago, and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who is portrayed as Lara Antipova in Doctor Zhivago. The Claimant is also the owner of the copyright in a translation of extracts from a book called Légendes de la Rue Potapov” (“the Légendes Translation”). Lara Prescott is the Defendant in the case at issue and author of The Secrets We Kept (“TSWK”), a historical, fictional account of a late 1950s CIA operation, which used copies of Doctor Zhivago as propaganda against the Soviet Union. Prescott, who is named after Lara Antipova, has always been fascinated by the novel. TSWK was published both in the United States and the United Kingdom in September 2019.

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.

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