rocery delivery service Ocado was forced to temporarily suspend parts of its online service last month due to coronavirus (Covid-19). The panic buying induced by the virus resulted in a tenfold increase demand. However, even before this unprecedented surge Ocado has been steadily growing over recent years. A quick Google search shows the impressive growth of Ocado’s share price since its initial public offering. Investment in technology and intellectual property (IP) have played a major role in this growth.
Insights: Technical Insights
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a worldwide shortage of ventilators, and in the UK, the NHS is soon expected to require significantly more ventilators than are currently in circulation. As a result, on Monday 16th March, the UK government called for businesses to help make ventilators and ventilator components in an attempt to dramatically increase the number of ventilators available to the NHS in a matter of weeks. In response, both existing manufacturers of ventilators are increasing production and other manufacturing businesses are joining the effort.
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.
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.
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”.
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.