British Science Week is here, a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for children in the UK. This year children are being introduced to the world of training artificial intelligence data sets. 2020’s eagerly anticipated Citizen Science “Zooniverse” partnership ramps up the “zoo” and shrinks the “universe” to a few chunks of South America. The public are being asked to help save spider monkeys, a lovable group of primates under threat from our insatiable appetite for palm oil.
At the time of writing, over one hundred and eighteen thousand cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) have been confirmed worldwide and this number is expected to rise significantly. In response to the outbreak, pharmaceutical companies and research organisations are racing to develop new vaccines and repurposing existing anti-viral drugs.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has recently issued a report summarising IP facts and figures for 2018. For this blog, we’ve picked out some interesting statistics from the data on patents. Record numbers of patent applications are being filed 2018 saw the number of new patent applications being filed in a calendar year exceed 3.3 million for the first time. This is an increase of 5.2% over 2017 and it is the ninth straight annual increase.
Last month we noted that Harry and Meghan were bringing trade marks to the attention of the general public, with their SUSSEX ROYAL trade mark making headlines in the mainstream press. We’re pleased to see that trade marks continue to be big news at the moment. So far this month, it’s a comedian who has captured the public imagination in a surprising way in connection with a trade mark dispute. While filming an episode of the Channel 4 show “Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back”, the eponymous comedian became aware that Welsh craft brewery Boss Brewing had been sent a cease and desist letter by the German fashion house Hugo Boss.
The Government has just published a document setting out the UK’s approach to the negotiations with the EU that may have put an end once and for all to the UK’s involvement in the Unitary Patents (UP) project. As noted not too long ago here, after the Brexit referendum vote, under both the May administration and the Johnson administration, the UK government has repeatedly expressed an intention to bring an end to the European Court of Justice (ECJ)’s jurisdiction.In a way, then, it cannot come as a major surprise that in the UK’s negotiating objectives – which have just been published – the Government has essentially reiterated that concept. Whilst a future relationship with the EU is envisaged that is based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, this is meant to be one where both parties respect one another’s legal autonomy, and the Government has explicitly stated that they “will not agree to any obligations for UK laws to be aligned with the EU’s, or for the EU’s institutions, including the ECJ, to have any jurisdiction in the UK.”
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.
Is there such a thing as bad publicity? It seems there can be, when politics and brands mix uncomfortably – but the right response may still be able to turn things around. Musicians have frequently objected, with mixed success, when politicians whose views they may not share use their music in political campaigns. Bruce Springsteen told Ronald Reagan (in 1984), Bob Dole (in 1996) and Pat Buchanan (in 2000) not to use “Born in the USA” in their campaigns. In 1988 George H. W. Bush was asked by Bobby McFerrin to stop using “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” as his campaign theme song, while Tom Petty caused George W. Bush to back down from using “I Won’t Back Down” in his 2000 campaign. John McCain dropped the song “Take a Chance on Me” from his 2008 campaign after ABBA sent him a cease and desist letter, but took a chance on continuing to use Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again” and Foo Fighter’s “My Hero”, in spite of the bands’ stated disapproval. President Trump has received objections from various musicians who would prefer to distance their music from his campaigns.
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).