The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a huge impact on just about every aspect of our lives – transforming kitchens across the land into home offices and giving patent attorneys a crash course in the joys and challenges of home-schooling. One year on since the first UK lockdown and the ‘new normal’ no longer feels very ‘new’.
Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs): Could the EU/UK trade deal have an impact on future SPC terms in Europe?
Just over one month into the “real Brexit” we have already seen two very high profile consequences of its impact on the pharmaceutical industry.Firstly, the UK’s medicine agency (the MHRA) approved the BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford University/Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccines faster than the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Then, at the end of January, the European Commission threatened to prevent Covid-19 vaccines passing into Northern Ireland from Ireland. I am certainly not going to explore the potential political ramifications of this (swiftly withdrawn) threat of the EU Commission – twitter commentators have had their say on that – but I am interested in whether this unique situation on the island of Ireland could have future consequences for supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) in the UK and Europe.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has announced several temporary fee changes in relation to patents, supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), trade marks and registered designs. In an effort to support applicants and proprietors facing disruption due to COVID-19, the temporary fee changes waive or significantly reduce certain late payment fees, fees for obtaining extensions, and fees for reinstating or restoring lost rights. The following temporary fee changes will apply between 30 July 2020 and 31 March 2021:
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.
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.
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”.