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Revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal

EPO4On 1 January 2020 the new Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (“RPBA”) came into force, affecting substantially all(1) appeals pending on, or filed after 1 January 2020. The revised rules have three main aims: i) to increase the efficiency of the appeals procedure; ii) to improve predictability for parties; and iii) to harmonise the approach of the Boards (particularly in regard to the admissibility of amendments to a party’s case). (more…)

Disengage the Simulator – G1/19 Oral Proceedings are Imminent

Elton John was of the opinion that sorry seemed to be the hardest word.  That may well be true in general life, but in the European Patent Convention, that hardest word is “technical”. It underpins everything, yet is never defined – apparently, you know it when you see it1. Much of the challenge it provides results from the need to engineer a definition of “technical” which circumvents the exclusions from patentability set out in Article 52(2) EPC. These exclusions are treated as relating to “non-technical” subject matter by the EPO – such subject matter is excluded from patentability but (as set out in Article 52(3) EPC) only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities “as such” (two more of the harder words in the EPC).

As a result, many inventions as claimed relate to a mix of “technical” and “non-technical” subject matter. The central case in this area is T 0641/00 (Two identities/COMVIK), which indicates that not only can “non-technical” subject matter not contribute to inventive step unless it somehow contributes to technical character, it can even be used to establish the objective technical problem solved by the invention (whether or not it is found in the prior art). This can lead to a higher “step” in arguing for inventive step, and determination over whether specific features are technical can be a key battleground in patent prosecution before the EPO.

This is the context for the referral of G1/19 to the Enlarged Board of Appeal. This referral was made by the Technical Board of Appeal in T 0489/14, which is an appeal from the decision to refuse EP1546948 – the best place to find all the documents for this case is the European Patent Register entry for EP1546948, including a large number of amicus briefs. (more…)

The Internet of Things and Patent Pools

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This article provides an overview of the topics discussed in the recent webinar hosted by BrightTALK titled ‘The Essential Value: IoT Standard Essential Patents and the Case for Patent Pools’, and which is available here.

The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) refers to the use of wireless or cellular technology to connect different devices that can transmit and receive data to one another. Whereas previously the use of cellular technology was limited to relatively few types of devices – most notably, mobile telephones – more and more consumer and enterprise devices and products are now being equipped with such technology, making possible wireless communication between various devices in different technological fields.

Wireless communication is typically performed according to a number of different industry defined and approved technical standards. Standards are often developed by committees formed of experts from various companies in the relevant industry. Each expert, or group of experts, will bring ideas for new practices or technologies – possibly reflecting the innovation occurring within their company – that they believe should be adopted into a new standard. The committee will decide which of these practices or technologies are written into the new standard.

In many cases, practices or technology defined in a new standard will have pending or granted patent protection, owned by the company whose experts brought the technology to the committee, for instance. In such cases, this means that operating within the scope of such patents is unavoidable to implement the standard. Patents satisfying this condition are therefore known as ‘Standard-Essential Patents’ (SEPs). (more…)

Patents and the Internet of Things

Here’s a brief video (subtitles available) looking at some of the issues that might be encountered when protecting innovation in the “Internet of Things”.

Mark Richardson 24 June 2020

Give me a patent. Quick!

panning photo of yellow car

Photo by Alex Powell on Pexels.com

Conventional project management wisdom tells us that from ‘good, fast and cheap’ you are only allowed to pick two. While for patent drafting there may be some good reasons to fear the quality of rushed work too, you do sometimes have very good reasons for wanting to have a patent application filed within a matter of days, rather than weeks. Fortunately, if proper care is taken, there is no good reason why such fast-paced patent drafting should weaken your patent position or deplete your financial resources. (more…)

IP Tips: Reducing patent spend (in light of Covid-19)

Here’s a few thoughts I recorded a couple of weeks ago (in 60 seconds against a stopwatch!) for reducing patent spend in light of challenges resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. This video is subtitled.

Mark Richardson 16 June 2020

IP for Startups: Top 5 Things You Need to Know

Jonathan Goodacre (UK and European Patent Attorney) of Keltie provides some tips and advice to newcomers to IP in a short subtitled video and covers:

  1. The different types of IP protection that you might encounter (e.g. patents, trade marks and designs);
  2. Registered v unregistered rights;
  3. Applications v granted rights;
  4. The difference between registrability v Freedom to Operate;
  5. IP rights are jurisdictional.

1 June 2020

Patenting AI/Machine Learning Inventions (Part 2)

Last week in “Patenting AI/Machine Learning Inventions (Part 1)” Richard Lawrence and I discussed the challenges of patenting artificial intelligence and machine learning inventions. At the end of that video Richard promised me an example “with a dog”.

So, here’s part 2 of the video. Again, the video is provided with subtitles.

Mark Richardson 20 May 2020

 

Patenting AI/Machine Learning Inventions (Part 1)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is appearing in every technology and industrial sector and has been accompanied by an increase in patent activity over recent years. In this video (subtitles available) I discuss the challenges of patenting artificial intelligence and machine learning inventions with Richard Lawrence of Keltie.

Part 2 of this video will be published next week on IPcopy.

Mark Richardson 13 May 2020

Collaboration and the role of AI in the fight against COVID-19

virus-4937553_1920These days, with the UK and many other countries around the world in lockdown, and much of the news and social media output directed towards reporting updates of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to focus only on the negative, scary and often depressing aspects of the current global situation. However, whilst such aspects are of course important and not to be trivialised, this author has found that taking a step back and looking at some of the positives that have also arisen from this situation has certainly helped to put things in perspective and has been good for her mental wellbeing.

In particular, those stories relating to the largely unprecedented (except perhaps in similar times of global hardship in the past) degree of cooperation and collaboration at many levels of society in an effort to beat the virus do provide some welcome relief. This author would like to share a few examples that, as an ex-astrophysicist and current patent attorney specialising in software inventions, have been of particular interest. (more…)