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You Ain’t Nothing but a Hamdog: IP Hit or Miss?

hamdog2

If only there was a way to eat both together…

Joining the ranks of hybrid food combos such as the Cronut, Duffin and Cruffin this week was the Hamdog (click for image), an unholy alliance/mashup of genius (delete as appropriate) of a hamburger and a hotdog1. What got IPcopy’s interest however wasn’t the culinary flair on display but the fact that seemingly every mainstream news outlet was reporting that the inventor (if that’s not too strong a word) of the Hamdog had “patented” his creation (see this BBC article by way of example).

The article in The Mercury goes further with the story and notes that the “inventor” Mark Murray was successful in “securing a US patent for the “combination hamburger hot dog bread bun” in 2009.” Mr Murray himself is quoted as saying “Everyone told me it wasn’t possible, because you’d need a patent lawyer and it would cost millions of dollars“.

Now this IPcopywriter may just be demonstrating the pedantic leanings of the average patent attorney but we couldn’t let this story pass by without comment, for Mr Murray has not “patented” his gastro-creation (in the sense that we’d normally use the word patent in the UK and Europe). Instead, as we’ll explain below, this “news” item is just another example of a particular type of terminology confusion that arises when reporting IP in the media2. (more…)

Brexit and the Uncertainty Principle Conundrum (UPC)

GB+EU flagSince the result of the UK’s referendum on the EU there has been much discussion about what will happen to the unitary patent system in the period before Brexit and also once Brexit has occurred.

Prior to the EU Referendum, many articles that discussed Brexit (including on this blog) referenced the CJEU Opinion 1/09 as the basis for saying that only EU Member States could take part in the UPC Agreement. Following the EU Referendum however a number of commentators posted articles that presented potential mechanisms for the UK’s continued participation in the unitary patent project (UPP).

The future prospects for the UPC and the unitary patent project as a whole have looked somewhat uncertain following the Referendum.

Last week, an opinion (herein the “UPC Opinion”) by Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe of Brick Court Chambers was published which considers the UK, Brexit and the UPP in great detail. Can the UK continue to be a part of the UPP? The short answer seems to be “yes, but…” and further detail on the opinion and the issues discussed is summarised below. (more…)

Unitary Patent Package – The Ratification Game (The Netherlands completes its ratification formalities)

EU shirt2Update (15 September 2016)

According to the website of the Council of the European Union, the Netherlands has now deposited its instrument of ratification (on 14 September 2016) to become the 11th country to complete its ratification formalities. The Netherlands joins Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria as one of the eleven countries who have completed their ratification processes.

The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. The target date for the unitary patent system was May 2017 but the result of the EU Referendum in the UK has thrown the timescale into doubt.

There are now enough countries to have ratified the the unified patent court agreement that the system will come into effect if just the UK and Germany complete their own ratification procedures. If the UK (and Germany) were to do this then it would open up a question about what will happen to the UK once Brexit happens. If the UK decides not to ratify the UPC agreement then the system will be on pause until either Brexit occurs or the various unitary patent agreements can be re-negotiated to remove the problems caused by the results of the UK’s EU Referendum from the equation.

Now that the Netherlands has completed all of the formalities we have updated our ratification infographic (for an answer to the question “What’s up with this infographic?“, please see the bottom of the post!”).

netherlands-upc

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IPcopy’s Summer Summary 2016

sunglassesThe kids are back at school, Starbucks has started selling pumpkin spice lattes and, despite the hottest September day for over 50 years predicted today, the nights are beginning to close in. Yes, summer 2016 is coming to a close.

It has been an unusual summer this year. Back in May we had a number of large sporting events to look forward to: the Rio Olympics/Paralympics, where Team GB covered/is covering itself in glory and Euro 2016, where England contrived to get knocked out by a team with a dentist-manager.

But Summer 2016 wasn’t satisfied with just some sporting events for news and the last two months have been filled with so much news it’s been hard to keep track. Sometimes it’s felt like the News Gods have just said: “Sod it, I can’t wait for this news to happen slowly anymore. Let’s put on the Big Box Set of News and just binge watch the whole thing this summer.”

And so we’ve had: a departing UK Prime Minister; a Conservative Party leadership contest; a new Prime Minister; what felt like more Shadow Ministers than there were actually Labour MPs; Corbyn staying, staying, sitting on the floor but still staying; Farage preparing his concession speech before going on to win more friends in the EU Parliament; blue on blue action and through it all the ongoing leap into the unknown that is Brexit.

What follows, just in case you missed us over the last few weeks, is a summary of IPcopy’s posts since we took back control…. (more…)

Changes to UK Patents Rules

bus

A plurality of omnibuses *

Earlier this year the UKIPO ran a consultation on proposed changes to the Patents Rules. The government is now bringing the proposed changes into force with some adjustments following comments received. The reasons behind the changes are to increase the flexibility of processes, to bring more legal certainty and to reduce administrative burdens.

The changes will be brought into force on 1 October 2016 and 6 April 2017 and are summarised below. (more…)

Brexit – IP Myths and Misconceptions 2

brexit-1481028_1920IPcopy is returning to the subject of the moment today and taking another look at Intellectual Property and Brexit. Just over a month ago we posted our first “Myths and Misconceptions” post with the aim of highlighting any Brexit related commentary in the area of IP that presented a misleading take on the possible changes to the IP world following Brexit.

Today’s article picks up on a comment made about the future of the unitary patent system. IPcopy has highlighted the section of the article we had a slight issue with below. (more…)

Brexit means Brexit

brexit-1481028_1920It’s been just over two months since the UK decided to take back control and, as the summer parliament recess comes to an end, IPcopy thought it would be a good time to take stock of where things stand.

The process of Brexit has been split between three Ministers – the Three Brexiteers of Johnson, Fox and Davis – which has already resulted in some turf wars. David Davis, heading up the Department for Exiting the European Union, has raised some eyebrows by claiming that the UK could do one-to-one trade deals with individual member states of the EU (it can’t) and that he wants to negotiate a trading area 10 times the size of the EU which sounds impressive until you realise that that would actually be 1.5 times bigger than the economy of the entire planet Earth1. (more…)

IP Enforcement 2020 – UK Policy Paper on IP Infringement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The UKIPO recently set out the government’s strategy over the next four years for tackling intellectual property infringement. The IP Enforcement 2020 policy paper notes that the UK has been recognised as a world leader in IP enforcement but that there are a number of challenges to address and areas to improve upon in order to tackle IP infringement and counterfeiting.

The report opens with a snazzy infographic that provides a summary of IP Enforcement related facts in the UK. The graphic highlights the contribution of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) (over £33million of IP crime investigated, 69 arrests, £3 million of counterfeit goods seized since PIPCU’s creation) and flags up two IP enforcement operations (Operations Jasper and Pangea). The top 5 countries of origin for IPR-infringing goods are named and shamed (China, Hong Kong, India, Turkey and Pakistan) and some statistics show the UK Border Force has been involved in the detention of goods worth more than £56 million and the UKIPO has provided advice to over 4000 businesses that operate or are planning to operate abroad. (more…)

EPO News – July 2016

epologoExamination refunds

Under current arrangements the EPO refunds 75% of the examination fee after the examining division has assumed responsibility for the case but before substantive examination has actually begun. In order to provide transparency over whether substantive examination has begun the EPO also posts a notice on the EP patents register to let applicants know when substantive examination has started.

As from 1 July 2016 the EPO is going a stage further (see EPO News Item) and is now starting to inform applicants, if operationally possible, at least two months in advance of the date on which it intends to start substantive examination. Any application that is withdrawn, refused or deemed to be withdrawn before such substantive examination has begun will get a full (100%) exam fee refund instead of the previous 75% rate. (more…)

Unified Patent Court Update – July 2016 – KBO*

IMG_8533Despite the result of the referendum in the UK, it would appear that technical preparations for the Unified Patent Court are going to continue.

The UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement is a required step in bringing the unitary patent system into play. Without the UK’s participation the remaining members of the project are faced with either waiting for the UK to leave the EU (which appears to be at least 2.5 years away now) or renegotiating the UPC Agreement to remove the UK.

However, in a joint statement from the Chairmen of the UPC Preparatory Committee and the EPO Select Committee dealing with the Unitary Patent it is noted that “it is too early to assess what the impact of this vote [the Referendum] on the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent Protection eventually could be”. The statement ends with the Preparatory and Select Committees stating that “work dedicated to the technical implementation should continue to progress as envisaged.(more…)