In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union, raising many questions around EU Trade Marks and Community Designs, as well as representation rights before the EUIPO.
Keltie’s “United in Europe” video below highlights our response to Brexit.
Keltie LLP 3 May 2018
If you want to be a European Patent Attorney who can represent clients before the European Patent Office, you first have to pass an exam. The European Qualification Examination, also known as the EQE, is well-known for its low pass rate. Only one in three candidates passes the full four paper exam in one year. After three years, another third of all candidates is still struggling with at least one of the papers.
In 2009, acknowledging that the low pass rate may be problematic, the exam committee came up with a counterintuitive idea. They added another hurdle. Since 2012, before you are allowed to appear at the real exam, you first have to pass a pre-exam. 10 legal questions, 10 claim analysis questions, 4 statements per question that have to be judged TRUE or FALSE, and a complex marking scheme to score all answers on a scale of 0-100. Only if you score 70 marks or more (50 before 2014), you are allowed to sit the main exam next year.
Since before the first pre-exam, there has been a lot of criticism on both the concept and the execution of this added challenge. Law is not maths. It is not easy to come up with 80 legal question that can only be answered with TRUE or FALSE and are challenging as well as unambiguous. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, successful appeals at the EPO Boards of Appeal led to 56 candidates being allowed into the main exam although having scored less than 70 marks for their pre-exams. This year, two statements were considered so ambiguous that every answer was accepted to be correct. IP Kat wrote an article about it. In the comments, candidates, former candidates and other anonymous contributors complained about the exam and the exam committee and questioned the usefulness and fairness of the pre-exam. On the DeltaPatents blog, similar comments are to be found in even greater numbers.
But most of these negative comments and opinions are based on emotions, often of candidates who just went through the stress and hard labour that are commonly associated with sitting the exam. For a better informed opinion about the pre-exam, it may be useful to have a look at the numbers. For the pre-exam to be a useful tool, two important statements have to be judged TRUE. (more…)
According to the website of the Council of the European Union (and just about every other official IP channel), the UK deposited its instrument of ratification (on 26 April 2018) to become the 16th country to complete its ratification formalities. The UK joins Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria as one of the sixteen countries who have completed their ratification processes.
The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. However, the German Constitutional Court challenge has thrown the timescale and the long term future of the unitary patent system into doubt.
There are now enough countries to have ratified the unified patent court agreement that the system will come into effect if Germany completes its own ratification procedures and sufficient approvals to the PPA are obtained.
Mark Richardson 27 April 2018
Late last month the European Commission issued a notice regarding the impact of Brexit on .eu domain names.
The notice states that, unless the EU and the UK agree otherwise in the withdrawal agreement, from 30 March 2019 the “EU regulatory framework for the .eu Top Level Domain” will no longer apply to the UK. This has a number of consequences: (more…)
No longer the neglected step-child of IP:
Trade secrets have been the neglected step-child of IP but that situation is fast changing. There are various forces at play helping to increase the importance of trade secrets.
Firstly, the law is changing.
· The Defend Trade Secrets Act passed in the USA in May 2016
· The EU Directive on Trade Secrets is enacted by member state on 9 June 2018
· China explicitly included trade secrets in its 2018 revisions to the Anti Unfair Competition Law
Changes in the eligibility requirements and enforcement mechanisms of patent laws around the world, but especially those in the US – and especially as they relate to software and business methods, make trade secrets an attractive mechanism to protect a company’s competitive advantages. (more…)
In the UK, section 1(2) of the Patents Act (which is set out at the bottom of this post) sets out certain categories of invention that are not patentable. These categories of invention are generally referred to as excluded subject matter. The assessment of patentability under section 1(2) is based on the judgment of the Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd and Macrossan’s Application case at the Court of Appeal. This judgment approved a four-step test for deciding on whether an invention is patentable.
Two relatively recent case rulings that relate to the above-mentioned subsections of the act are: the “Google Inc.” case (BL O/364/17), and the “Accipiter Radar Technologies Inc.” case (BL O/390/17), which were heard in August 2017. Both cases are noteworthy as they were respectively refused and accepted, and so offer insight to the type of inventions that are considered by the UK courts to be patentable and non-patentable in view sub-sections (c) and (d) of Section 1(2) of the Patents Act. (more…)
Last month the UK Trade Mark Registry granted the New Zealand’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society Incorporated(*) a certification mark for the term “Manuka honey”. A certification mark is a specific type of trade mark which provides a guarantee that the goods or services bearing the mark meet a certain defined standard or possess a particular characteristic.
In this case, the certification mark will mean that buyers in the UK will be guaranteed that Manuka honey from New Zealand contains certain properties, such as antibacterial qualities, while Manuka honey produced in Australia will not carry this same guarantee. Australian honey makers would need to obtain approval from their New Zealand counterpart’s before they would be able to use the term, which seems unlikely given New Zealand’s efforts to secure the name for themselves. (more…)
The Applicant in this case (Case No: O/550/171), ABC DETERJAN SANAYI VE TICARET ANONIM SIRKETI, filed an application for its ABC device in Classes 03 & 05. The Application claimed the colours red, blue, yellow and white. The Opponent, The Procter & Gamble Company, filed a notice of opposition under Sections 5(2)(b) and 5(3) and relied on its EUTM Registrations for its monochrome Atomium mark in Class 03 and its coloured ARIEL ACTILIFT mark in Class 03 (subject to proof of use). (more…)
The EUIPO has recently published a Q&A document relating to the impact of Brexit on EU trade marks (EUTMs) and registered community designs (RCDs). This document was effectively the third publication on the impact of Brexit on Intellectual Property after the EU Commission’s position paper last year and the EUIPO’s notice which was published in December 2017 (and updated in January 2018). (more…)
Last Wednesday the European Commission published its draft Withdrawal Agreement relating to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. This was followed a couple of days later by a speech from the Prime Minister which set out some more details about the UK position. Intellectual property got a mention in both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Mansion House speech. (more…)