In their recent decision (T1839/18), the boards of appeal re-affirmed the legality of straw man oppositions. Although this in itself is not news, we felt it offered a good opportunity to look again at the many advantages of anonymously opposing a European patent.
Insights: board of appeal
At Oral Proceedings we were involved with earlier this week, the Board of Appeal decided to refer questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal relating to the legality of holding Oral Proceedings before the Board of Appeal by video conference without consent of all parties. This referral may therefore put on hold Appeal hearings at the EPO whilst it remains difficult for parties to travel to Haar to attend Oral Proceedings in person.
We have just finished watching the oral proceedings before the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) on case G1/19 concerning the patentability of computer simulations. We were not alone – some 1,600 people signed up to watch today’s oral proceedings by live stream. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) no decision was announced during the proceedings. However, we did get to hear some of the EBA’s thoughts on the issues.
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”.
In previous articles we considered the increasing significance of plausibility at the EPO, particularly when assessing inventive step and sufficiency.