The UK has taken a further and more definitive step towards the end of its involvement in the Unitary Patent (UP) project. A written statement by Amanda Solloway (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation) was tabled in the House of Commons on 20th July 2020 indicating that, by means of a Note Verbale, the UK had withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC). By withdrawing its ratification, the UK has clarified once and for all its status in respect of the Agreement. Amanda Solloway’s statement suggests that, by doing so, the UK has intended to facilitate an orderly entry into force of the Agreement for the other States involved.
Insights: July 2020
On-demand, rental electric scooters are seen as a way of easing the pressure on public transport systems during the COVID-19 crisis. Although e-scooters have been in the UK for some time now, e-scooter rentals only became legal on UK roads on 4 July 2020. Up until 4 July 2020, it was illegal to use e-scooters on any public road or footpath in the UK. Even with the change in the law, it is still illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter on a public road or a footpath in the UK. This article takes a look at the patent portfolios of some of the major players in e-scooter rentals.
2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. However, while the world has experienced events such as threats of war, bush fires and a global pandemic among many others, Great Britain quietly passed a significant milestone last month. On 16th June 2020, Great Britain went more than two whole months without coal power with a total of 67-days, 22-hours and 55-minutes coal-free.
Artificial intelligence is increasingly an important tool in industry. Not just in computer science but in almost all fields of industry. And where an AI innovation provides a benefit to users, many would like to protect it with a patent. The European Patent Office (EPO) recognises this. In 2017 the EPO published a study on the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ that identified AI as a key enabling technology. As we reported previously, the EPO has held a conference discussing the patentability of AI. And the EPO has recently announced that their Berlin branch is to become a centre of expertise in AI. So it is worth looking at how AI inventions can be patented in Europe.
On July 20th, 2020, Innovate UK opened a first phase of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), designed to help businesses with high energy use to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions through investing in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. The IETF is managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is a joint sponsor. This first phase consists of a funding competition offering a total share of up to £30 million, divided into two competition strands and open to any business registered, and planning to carry out the project work, in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The project submission deadline for both strands is on October 28th, 2020. A second phase will launch in 2021 with up to £269 million of funding.
Manchester United FC has initiated trade mark infringement proceedings in the High Court against SEGA Publishing Europe Limited, the European arm of the Japanese video-game brand, and Sports Interactive Limited, producers of the video game Football Manager®. The game Football Manager® has been around since 1992 and is a hugely successful football management simulation video game. Players can manage their own virtual equivalents of real life clubs, controlling everything from pre-season transfers to the tactics on the pitch.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a large amount of government backed funding made available in the UK to promote UK based innovation. In particular, various schemes, competitions, grants and loans have been announced with the aim of helping UK SMEs involved in technology and R&D grow as the Covid-19 disruption dies down. We have reported on a number of these recently. An area that is important for achieving this aim, but is perhaps at risk of being overlooked during this period of widespread disruption and uncertainty, is intellectual property.
The UK government has announced a number of funding and support packages aimed at helping innovative firms through the Covid-19 pandemic. We have reported on a number of these schemes in recent weeks, including the recently announced Automotive Transformation Fund. A further recently announced fund is the Sustainable Innovation Fund, which is a fund of almost £200 million to help UK companies recover from the impact of Covid-19. The stated aim of the fund is to support “companies across all parts of the UK who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive”.