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IPcopy’s summer round up

spadesThe summer holiday period is coming to an end, the kids are heading back to school and for the first time in weeks there’s actually a full complement of co-workers in your office. IPcopy has been ticking away during the summer season and, just in case you weren’t checking our updates when you were on the beach, here’s a round-up of our posts from mid July through August.

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America Invents Act – One Year Later

photo-3rToday on IPcopy we have a guest post from Wolf Greenfield attorneys Patrick Waller and Daniel Young that takes a look at the changes seen in the US following the implementation of the America Invents Act. This article is reproduced with permission from Intellectual Property Magazine (IPM). This article first featured in IPM’s May 2014 issue.

We are now well past the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the final changes to US patent law under the America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law by President Obama in 2011. While the full impact of these changes on US patent applicants will play out over the next several years, this anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the changes and their impact on the country’s patent system. (more…)

High Court rules no compensation for inventor Shanks

Piggy bankToday we have a guest post from David Knight of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP on the Shanks v Unilever case and the issue of employee compensation. This article first appeared on the SnIPpets IP blog and is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

Three years have passed since we reported on the appeal on an interim point in the case of Shanks v Unilever, a case relating to Professor Shanks’ (a former employee of Unilever) right to compensation as an inventor of patents of outstanding benefit.  (The patents related to a capillary action measuring device which has now found large scale use in home diagnostic kits for diabetes.)

Amazingly the case continues to rumble on, and the High Court (Arnold J) has recently issued a Judgment on appeal from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) on the substantive part of the case.

By way of reminder, section 41 of the UK Patents Act provides that an employee inventor may be entitled to compensation if two conditions are satisfied:

  • that the patent is of “outstanding benefit to the employer”; and if so
  • that it “is just” that he should be awarded compensation.

Once these requirements are fulfilled the employee should receive such a fair share of the benefit the employer has derived, or may be expected to derive from the patent or the invention.

The case was brought in the UKIPO which, together with the courts, has jurisdiction to hear cases relating to employee compensation.  After a marathon nine day hearing at the UKIPO, including three expert witnesses, the Hearing Officer decided that:-

  1. the benefit of the patents to Unilever was £24.5m;
  2. the benefit was not outstanding;
  3. but had the benefit been outstanding, Professor Shanks’ fair share would be 5%.

Professor Shanks appealed the second and third point above; Unilever appealed against the first and third point.  Many issues were thrown up by the parties in support of their respective appeals; we comment below on those that are more likely to have general relevance in other employee compensation cases. (more…)

Unitary patent: News nuggets (August 2014)

EU flagThings in unitary patent preparation land are beginning to slow down a little as we head into the summer season. Things will no doubt pick up again in the autumn but in the meantime here’s some nuggets of news to keep you going. (more…)

EPO – Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection

EU flagThe EPO Select Committee approved the Rules relating to unitary patent protection on 24 June. A copy of these rules has appeared online and is discussed below.

During a session of the recent “Unitary patent and Unified patent court” seminar held in Paris, Jerome Debrulle (Chair EPO Select Committee) indicated that the Select Committee had approved the rules that will be used to administer the unitary patent. IPcopy had not seen a copy of these rules at the time of our conference review post but now, thanks to reader Hans van Tongeren, we have been pointed towards what appears to be the latest version of the rules, which can be found on the Bristows website here.

The EPO’s rules document runs to over 80 pages and there is also a 40+ page Annex which highlights the changes from the previous version of the rules. An overview of the structure of the rules document is provided below along with some “highlights” from the rules themselves.

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USPTO starts lobbing rejections from Room 101 (is this the post-Alice situation?)

Court (Small)Are USPTO Examiners beginning to issue blanket “Alice” objections against software patent applications? How should such patent applications be presented? How might this develop going forward? And, what should we be doing (if anything) to address it?

An eagle-eyed colleague here at Keltie (thank you Peter Kent) spotted a discussion online last week that suggested that, in the wake of the Alice v CLS Bank decision from the Supremes,  Examiners at the USPTO might be beginning to issue blanket objections under 35 U.S.C. 101 to patent applications containing software-implemented inventions.

IPcopy reached out to William Jividen at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in the US to see if this was the case. The discussion below has been distilled from Bill’s comments and other comments seen online. Any mistakes or inaccuracies may be attributed solely to me!

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Unitary patent system & EPO strikes – answers from the European Parliament

EU flagBack in June IPcopy noted that there were three questions pending in front of the European Parliament from Marc Tarabella (Member of the European Parliament – see his biography here) that related to the unitary patent system. There was also a fourth question regarding relations between the EPO and the EU from another Member of the EU Parliament.

Answers to these questions were recently posted and are highlighted below.

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Fieldfisher Seminar Review: Alice v CLS Bank

photo-3rAs noted earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending Fieldfisher’s recent Patent Experts Seminar on 10th July. The seminar comprised contributions from guest speakers including Frank L. Bernstein from Kenyon & Kenyon LLP in the US who spoke to the issue of Alice v CLS Bank (Alice v. CLS Bank: Through the Looking Glass, or Through a Glass Darkly?). (more…)

Trunki Revisited (or “Peter Jones, Dragon not Patent Attorney”)

dragons den

Image from dullhunk* (via Flickr) under Creative Commons (click for licence)

Dragon’s Den returned to our screens last night and this therefore seemed like the perfect time to summarise one of the talks given at Fieldfisher’s recent Patent Experts Seminar on 10th July in their fabulous new offices overlooking the Thames.

In the opening session of the seminar David Knight looked over the recent Trunki decision (PMS’s Kiddee case versus Magmatic’s Community Registered Design (CRD) for the Trunki – see image below). While reviewing a design case in the context of a patent seminar seemed a little strange at first it ultimately proved to be an interesting take on the Trunki story and made us look at the position, assumed by one of the Dragons, that the product was not patentable.

Setting the scene David noted that designs protect how “it” looks whereas patents will protect how “it” works. When the Trunki design was originally presented to the Dragons back in 2006 they all decided against investing in the product after Theo Paphitis managed to break the strap on one of the suitcases. During the course of the grilling that inventor Rob Law received he was told by Peter Jones (the tall dragon) that “This type of product is not patentable…..I could have a competing product on the market within 7 days”. But how accurate was this patentability assessment?  (more…)

European Patent Litigation Certificate – Response to Consultation

Unified patent courtThe Legal Working Group of the Preparatory Committee has recently launched a consultation on their proposals for the European Patent Litigation Certificate. The consultation timeframe is relatively short and runs until Friday 25 July 2014. Comments are to submitted electronically to secretariat@unified-patent-court.org. The consultation document can be found here and an explanatory memorandum can be found here.

At a recent CIPA seminar The Hon Mr Justice Birss suggested that the best way to influence the Prep Committee’s position on the content and form of the EPLC would be to present a united front with other countries in Europe. To that end IPcopy would be interested to hear from readers in other countries, e.g. Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, regarding their reaction to the content of the EPLC proposal. Additionally if any reader wants to share their response to the consultation then IPcopy will be happy to start a consultation round-up post.

The comments below form the basis of this ipcopywriter’s response to the EPLC consultation. These are personal views.

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