The EPO has recently announced an increase to its official fees which will kick in on 1 April 2020. Most EPO official fees that are changing on 1 April 2020 are going up by about 4%. Fees relating to filing, search, examination, renewal, excess claims and opposition are all affected.
Insights: February 2020
Drug discovery is expensive. Computers are an important tool in combating this, because their computations can reduce the number of time-consuming physical tests needed. The use of computers in drug discovery is the subject of a great deal of research and we saw an example of this in the news last week when it was reported that a powerful new antibiotic had been discovered using artificial intelligence (see J. Stokes et al., “A Deep Learning Approach to Antibiotic Discovery”, Cell, vol. 180, no. 4, pp. 688-702.e13, 2020. Available: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.021, widely reported by the media).
As countries around the world strive to curb climate change, it becomes increasingly clear that radical innovative energy solutions are needed if we are to stand any chance of achieving net zero emissions. A team of engineers at the University of Queensland may have provided one such solution in the field of quantum dot solar cell technology, achieving a near 25% improvement, and a world record, for the conversion of solar energy into electricity using quantum dots. Inventor, and Australian Research Council laureate, Lianzhou Wang, explains that the improvement “is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting prospect and being commercially viable”.
A recent decision of the General Court demonstrates that the distinctiveness of a trade mark must be assessed in relation to the specific goods or services for which registration is sought. Hästens Sängar AB (which does business simply as “Hastens”) is a Swedish manufacturer specialising in beds, bedlinen, pillows and accessories. Hasten’s products have long featured a blue and white check pattern, which was apparently created in 1978 by the father of the current owner and executive chairman of the company. This check pattern is used on Hastens’ beds, mattresses and bed linen, as well as on clothing and other accessories. Hastens has registered the check pattern in Sweden and has sought to protect it by various means in many other territories. On 21 December 2016 Hastens applied to register a copyright claim in the US in a repeating “two-dimensional graphic pattern consisting of white, dark blue, medium blue and light blue rectangles arranged in a check pattern”.
Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) are European sui generis rights which provide a form of patent term extension available in Europe for medicinal products or plant protection products. The period of effective patent protection for medicinal products and plant protection products can be significantly less than in other sectors because of the need to obtain a marketing authorisation (MA). Obtaining an MA can take a significant amount of time (typically around 12 years), which can be a large portion of the lifetime of a patent (20 years from its filing date). SPCs are national rights available in individual EU countries (and European Economic Area (EEA) countries: Switzerland and Norway) which are governed by EU regulations. They will also continue to be available in the UK following its exit from the EU. The SPC sphere is a fascinating and extremely active area of intellectual property law. There is a steady stream of decisions from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) attempting to clarify the SPC Regulations, and there are a number of issues outstanding. This brief guide attempts to give a sense of the current state of play.
CJEU answers UK reference arising from the UK High Court litigation between Sky and SkyKick on issues relating to bad faith and validity
In February 2018 we reported on the decision of Mr Justice Arnold in the UK High Court trade mark litigation involving various Sky companies (Sky plc, Sky International AG and Sky UK Limited – ‘Sky’) and SkyKick (SkyKick UK Limited and SkyKick Inc). On 29 January 2020 the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) delivered its judgement on the questions referred by the UK court. Details of the CJEU’s judgement and what it means in practice are set out below.
Registered Community designs (RCDs) protect the shape and appearance of new products across the whole of the EU. However, RCDs only came into effect on 1 April 2003, which means that the body of case law concerning aspects of RCDs such as individual character is still developing. Since national court decisions on RCDs are rare, decisions by the EUIPO’s Invalidity Division provide a valuable source of information on how the validity of an RCD is interpreted. This blog covers invalidity decisions issued by the EUIPO during the fourth quarter of 2019, from 1 October 2019 to 31 December 2019. Our previous blog covering the third quarter of 2019 can be found here.
Harry and Meghan have had the spotlight of the world’s media on them in the last few weeks. But for us, it is great to see the level of interest that has been paid to their trade mark applications. It’s not just the IP blogs and trade journals that have been commenting on their efforts to secure legal protection for their brand – the SUSSEX ROYAL trade mark has been making headlines across the mainstream press as well, which is not surprising given the challenges ahead for the Sussexes’ applications.