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Brexit: Labour’s 170 Questions for the Government

brexit-1481028_1920The Labour Party released a set of 170 Brexit related questions last week to cover each day between 13 October 2016 and the Article 50 notification deadline announced by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party conference, 31 March 2017.

IPcopy took a quick look at the questions to see whether any were IP themed ones and, if there were any such questions, how far down the list these came.

We found references to the unitary patent system and also to geographical indications. (more…)

Trade secrets versus patents

secretTrade secrets were the subject of one of the sessions at the recent Mischon de Reya “Patents: A Year in Review” seminar where Martyne Hann took the audience on a whistlestop tour of trade secrets, including recent developments in the US and Europe, and the interplay between patents and trade marks. (more…)

Make America Great Again: The Trade Mark

trumpWhilst perusing a book of Trump quotes while buying a greetings card recently, I noted that one of his statements was directed toward an IP issue, namely his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”, and how he’d trademarked the saying.

Given that a favourite pastime of the US media seems to be fact checking everything Trump and Clinton say, IPcopy took a gander at the USPTO trade mark register to find out. (more…)

Did Theresa May just end UK participation in the UPC?

IMG_8533-1A couple of weeks ago we wrote about an opinion from Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe of Brick Court Chambers about the UK’s potential continued participation in the unitary patent system.

The authors’ view was that it would be legally possible for the UK to continue subject to certain safeguards being in place. They did however note that the unitary patent and UPC raised “significant political as well as legal issues”.

So, the legal flesh seemed willing, would the political will be strong or weak? (more…)

UPC Update – September 2016

IMG_8533While the uncertainty over the UK’s participation in the unitary patent project remains, preparations for the unitary patent system continue. In the last week or so there have been a couple of updates related to Italian participation in the scheme. (more…)

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


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!”).



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


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…)