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Why not file your priority application as an EPC?

epo_member_states_10_10The “obvious” thing for a UK patent applicant is to file a UK priority application; but in a survey of 10 major UK companies with in-house departments, 5 had a policy of filing EPC priority applications with a search request. An Espacenet search revealed that BASF, Bayer, Philips, and Siemens were also filing EPC priority applications. In total, the EPO receive 30 000 “first” applications per year.

The author may as well not beat about the bush: in his opinion, in many technological areas (subject to national security considerations), EPC priority filings should be the norm for any UK-based serious international patenter (and at least for German- and Dutch-based ones, too). And a client who is deterred by the upfront cost of an EPC priority filing compared with a UK priority filing arguably should not be in the patenting game at all, when the total cost of patent protection in the G7 countries over the full 21 years from priority is around £ 100 000 in current prices, and when even coverage only in the UK, the USA, and Germany costs a substantial proportion of this. (more…)

Pharmaceuticals: European Regulatory Clearance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday on IPcopy we have a guest post from Rob Jacob of Stephenson Harwood LLP on the subject of pharmaceutical name approvals.

Choosing a name for a prescription pharmaceutical product is not an easy task. You need a name that sets your product aside from the competition, something catchy, something memorable and most importantly something management and marketing believe in and can use to sell to the market – by no means an easy task. However, choosing such a name is not the end of the story. In fact, it is just the beginning. Getting a pharmaceutical name approved by both legal and the regulators is where the task really begins. The rules and regulations surrounding the clearance of pharmaceutical names are complex and fraught with hurdles that must be overcome.

Legal clearance is about ensuring that your proposed brand does not infringe a third party’s trade mark. Regulatory clearance is completely different and is the focus of this entry. Whilst this brief entry can’t do the topic justice, it will hopefully act as an introduction to the issues involved. (more…)

Intellectual property in the Dilbert cartoons, and other things

Dilbert Mark


For me, three writers on management stand out:

• Peter Drucker (1909-2005), especially for The effective executive (1967). The effective executive contains robust – often uncomfortable –management truths (notwithstanding its inevitably dated case studies); it is short; and it is organised in a straightforward, unflashy manner which is appealing to the legal practitioner. Drucker also said (with resonance for any managing partner or in-house head of intellectual property): “As a manager, you clean up messes. Who the hell wants to do that?”

• Lucy Kellaway, who writes weekly in the Financial Times, fuelled by vacuous and incoherent pronouncements of corporate “leaders” and by insights communicated to her by frustrated employees. She questions the value of any new management ideas beyond those of Drucker and of “total quality management” of the 1980s.

• And finally, Adam Scott, who in the daily comic strip Dilbert has created a simultaneously surreal and recognisable US ICT company (ICT= information and communications technology). In this company, the nerdy Dilbert, the ferociously efficient Alice, and the lazy Wally work for the “pointy-haired boss” dedicated to “management speak” – while apparently failing to notice that they have non-human colleagues such as Dogbert, Catbert, and Ratbert. (UK residents can find Dilbert in the Daily Express and the International New York Times, as well as online at www.dilbert.com.)

Scott’s characters encounter not only management fads but also legal including IP matters. (more…)

Pharma Patents UK Case Law in 2013

pharmaToday we have a guest post from Suleman Ali of Holly IP and K2 on the subject of UK Pharma caselaw in 2013. This post was originally posted on the Holly IP blog IP Trends and is reproduced with the permission of the author.  These points are gleaned from a talk by Neil Jenkins given at the CIPA Life Sciences Conference on 14 November 2013.


New referral to EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal – follow up

epologoAs noted in a recent post on IPcopy, the freedom for a patentee to amend claims during EPO opposition and opposition appeal proceedings is to be considered by the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).

Since our earlier post we have heard mention of this referral from a member of the Technical Boards of Appeal at a seminar in London and have also had further comments from the Chairman of the case in question, including some suggestions as to when the referral will progress further. (more…)

10 Points on the EPO Boards of Appeal

epologoToday we have a guest post from Suleman Ali of Holly IP and K2 on the subject of the EPO Boards of Appeal. This post was originally posted on the Holly IP blog IP Trends and is reproduced with the permission of the author. There’s some interesting tidbits of information here from Appeal statistics to backlogs and from divergence between the Boards to the need to wear a tie! These points are gleaned from a talk by Alexander Clelland (ex-head of a Board of Appeal) given at the CIPA Life Sciences Conference on 14 November 2013.

IP in the Space Sector

RocketDespite having had an interest in all things extra-terrestrial from an early age, I’ve been regularly dumb-struck by innovations in space-related technology both upstream (things in space or launching them there) and downstream (things down here using technology or data from space).  Planet Labs are deploying a constellation of 28 tiny imaging satellites, each costing a fraction of the price of typical commercial satellites, promising near-global, daily imaging.  Brokers like Spaceflight Services put these and other small satellites into orbit by squeezing them into the space inside launch vehicles around larger satellites.  Terra Recovery image landfill sites from space, to figure out what their robots could mine from them.  You can even buy your own satellite launched and ready to do your bidding, evil or otherwise (laser weapons not included).

Prompted by such giant leaps for space-faring mankind, and along with the likes of World IP Review and IPKat, we’ve been pondering some idiosyncrasies in IP in the space sector.


Branding – is monolithic best?

BMW: A monolithic brand. Shown here on the IPcopy news wagon

BMW: A monolithic brand. Shown here on the IPcopy news wagon

Consider a company selling non-pharmaceutical products to the general public (pharmaceutical products raise special issues, not discussed here).

The possible extremes of branding architecture are these:

  • “one product [or product type, or service (type)], one brand”;  and
  • “monolithic”. (more…)

Professional ethics – a bit like Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics

"A Dalek may not injure a Timelord or, through inaction, cause a Timelord to come to harm ! Son, we need to have a serious chat"

“A Dalek may not injure a Timelord or, through inaction, cause a Timelord to come to harm! …. Son, we need to have a serious chat”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) is one of the Greats of science fiction.  While practising as a chemist in the 1940s, he depicted in his stories a world in which, from the late twentieth century, humanity was increasingly served by robots of high intelligence.  To prevent these robots from taking over from, or destroying, humanity – or being abused by one human against others – they were programmed with the three “Laws of Robotics”:

“1 – A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, cause a human being to come to harm.

“2 – A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

“3 – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”

These laws were admirably crafted, but had enough ambiguity to support ingenious stories.  The stories are still readily available (the above laws are as set out in a recently purchased copy of I, Robot.)

A legal practitioner such as an English solicitor or a UK and European patent attorney is likewise subject to hierarchical rules embodied in codes of conduct of various types.  In the public interest, their behaviour is constrained, including their response to client instructions.  Indeed, with a little licence, one may reformulate these ethical codes into three-part form corresponding quite well to the three Laws of Robotics: (more…)

10 Points from IPO Patent Decisions in 2013

cipalogoIn his final post reviewing a CIPA event on 27 November 2013  Suleman Ali of Holly IP and K2 looks at UKIPO decisions in 2013. This post was originally posted on the Holly IP blog and is reproduced with the permission of the author.



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