Posts in International

Policy Shift Against SEP Rights Poses Risks for U.S. Innovation and Undermines Mandate of the ITC

resident Biden took an important step toward safeguarding the U.S. economy with last year’s Executive Order No. 14,036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” aimed at promoting competition at home in the face of unfair competitive pressure from state-owned or sponsored firms overseas, particularly in China. That Executive Order includes regulatory and policy reviews across the spectrum of American commerce, noting “a fair, open, and competitive marketplace has long been a cornerstone of the American economy. It also emphasized the importance of achieving this goal through promoting competition and innovation by firms small and large at home and worldwide.” Yet, the proposal directed to one facet of the order — for patents covering inventions that are essential to a technology standard such as Wi-Fi or 5G wireless communication — risks not only undermining American innovation and competitiveness but also upending the notion of fairness and the very policy the Executive Order seeks to advance.

Mossoff-Barnett Comment on EU Commission’s Call for SEP Evidence Spotlights Misconceptions About FRAND Obligations

On May 9, a comment signed by a coalition of 25 law professors, economists and former U.S. government officials, and co-written by Adam Mossoff, Law Professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Jonathan Barnett, the Torrey H. Webb Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, was submitted to the European Commission as a response to the EU governing body’s call for evidence on standard-essential patents. Like another recent response to the EU Commission by a group of scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), the Mossoff-Barnett comment attempts to dispel several misconceptions about the impact that SEPs have on the commercialization of new technologies, especially major communications technologies like 4G/LTE and WiFi that have been widely commercialized to the benefit of the vast majority of global consumers, thanks in large part to the patent rights that help to structure commercialization efforts.

NIH Makes Deal with WHO to Share Key COVID Technologies

The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) signed a deal today with the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) that allows manufacturers greater access to key COVID-19 technologies owned by NIH. The licensing agreement offers 11 technologies under transparent, global and non-exclusive licenses. They include “the stabilized spike protein used in currently available COVID-19 vaccines, research tools for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development as well as early-stage vaccine candidates and diagnostics.”

Scholars Warn EU Commission Not to Upend Delicate SEP Balance

Four scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) have sent comments to the European Commission urging against any changes to the EU’s legal framework for licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs) that would limit SEP holders’ ability to seek injunctions against alleged infringers. The ICLE scholars write: “It is simply not helpful for a regulatory body to impose a particular vision of licensing negotiations if the goal is more innovation and greater ultimate returns to consumers.” The comments come in response to the Commission’s February 2022 Call for evidence, which explained that “some users have found that the system for licensing SEPs is not transparent, predictable or efficient. This initiative seeks to create a fair and balanced licensing framework and may combine legislative and non-legislative action.” The feedback period ended May 9 and asked stakeholders to submit their views on: “(i) transparency; (ii) the concept of licensing on FRAND terms and conditions, including the level of licensing; and (iii) effective enforcement.”

Senators Call for Transparency as Global Leaders Call for Action on COVID Vaccine Waiver Talks

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) sent a letter today to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai asking that she “dramatically improve” transparency in the negotiations surrounding waiver of intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The letter noted that details of the draft text of a waiver agreement were announced in March, before Congress had been briefed or shown the text. Most recently, a new draft was shared with all World Trade Organization (WTO) Member States that has caused controversy on all sides of the issue.

Doing Business in Russia After the Ukraine Invasion—Justifications and Risks

As horrifying images continue to flow from Ukraine, politicians in the United States and Europe find themselves increasingly pressured to expand economic sanctions against Russia. On April 6, 2022, the White House announced a prohibition on new investment in Russia by any U.S. person. This move has undoubtedly been a factor in the stunning exodus of U.S. companies from the region, as it leaves management teams in legal limbo as to whether maintaining current facilities—or even repairing equipment—could be considered a prohibited “investment.”

WIPO Director General Daren Tang on Expanding IP Access to Women, Youth and Emerging Economies

On April 26—World Intellectual Property Day—I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one for an extended interview with Daren Tang, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Tang, who was in Washington, D.C., for the International Trademark Association’s (INTA’s) annual conference, spoke with me on the record for approximately one hour. His energy is palpable, his spirit is focused, and his motivations seem genuine. Tang comes across as confident in his mission and extremely affable, and quick with a joke, describing his relationship with intellectual property as “an arranged marriage,” and noting that it was not “love at first sight” in a nod to his first love—international trade law.

Tax, Metaverse, and Sustainability in Focus at INTA Annual Meeting—Plus Speeches by Tang and Vidal

An understanding of tax issues is increasingly important for trademark practitioners—and a new report by the International Trademark Association (INTA) focusing on the European Union, Switzerland and the United Kingdom aims to help them achieve that. The “Report on the Taxation of Trademarks and Complementary Rights in Europe” was unveiled at the 144th INTA Annual Meeting Live+, which was held in Washington, D.C. and online from April 30 to May 3. There were more than 6,700 registrants from 130 countries.

Importers Beware! Burden Shifting in Patent Infringement Cases

A large portion of the technology that we rely on daily—cell phones, computers, and the sensors and infrastructure that connect them, as well as an increasing percentage of drugs—is manufactured outside the United States, and in particular China. Indeed, over the past 25+ years the value of goods imported from China has increased ten-fold. Most companies are aware of the potential patent infringement liability for sales made in the United States but may not know that liability for infringing a U.S. patent can also extend to the processes used to make their product—even when manufacturing is done entirely outside the United States by a contract manufacturer.

Foreign Filing Requirements Part III: Managing Compliance

In Part II of this series, we reviewed three of the most popular jurisdictions for global patenting and their foreign filing restrictions for cross-border inventions. Our final article in this series will discuss how an applicant’s failure to comply with foreign filing restrictions may result in various penalties, ranging from invalidation of the patent to criminal consequences accompanied by fines, and even imprisonment. Before strategically planning the global patent filing of a new invention, the first step for a practitioner is to gather the relevant information. Because the foreign filing requirements vary greatly among countries, information beyond simply name and address of each inventor (or applicant if different from the inventor) needs to be collected. Given that some countries’ foreign filing license requirements are based on residency as well as nationality, it is necessary to know the citizenship and/or residency status of each inventor.

USPTO Issues Update on Relations with Russian Patent Office

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that certain intellectual property (IP)-related transactions are now authorized in Russia, following publication by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of General License No. 31. The authorized transactions include the filing and prosecution of any application to obtain a patent, trademark, or copyright, as well as renewal and maintenance fees.

Draft COVID Patent Waiver Text Officially Sent to WTO Membership

World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday sent a letter to Ambassador Lansana Gberie, Chair of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), explaining that an informal group of delegates from the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa have reached a draft outcome document on the proposal to waive IP rights for COVID vaccine-related patented technologies. The text largely tracks that of a draft circulated in March, but some open questions remain for the broader membership to resolve.

The EU Is Throwing Stones in the Data Lake by Regulating AI – What Global Companies Need to Do Now to Prepare

High-stakes artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming even higher risk in the European Union, where AI regulation efforts are underway that could cost your company up to 6% of its total worldwide revenues—more than the potential penalties for privacy violations under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On April 21, 2021, the European Commission proposed rules for regulating AI (the “AI Act” or “Act”), to which the European Parliament recently released proposed amendments on April 20, 2022. The Act may undergo a series of additional amendments, but a final text is nearing completion and European countries are starting to act in anticipation of the regulation. Companies should plan for the comprehensive act to become law and begin implementing best practices now to ensure a competitive advantage. Below is an overview of the AI Act’s key provisions that takes into account the Parliament’s recent changes.

Foreign Filing Requirements Part II – Comparing Popular Patenting Jurisdictions

In Part I of this series, we provided an overview of foreign filing restrictions for cross-border inventions around the world. For a deeper examination, we will narrow our focus to some of the most common countries for filing. The United States, China, and India are among the most popular patent filing venues in the world. While all three countries require a Foreign Filing License (FFL) before filing abroad or otherwise first filing in the home country, the specific requirements vary.

Hague in Force in China: Tips for Choosing the Hague Agreement or Paris Convention to File Design Patents in China

The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the “Hague Agreement”) will enter into force in China next week, on May 5. Together with the original Paris Convention approach, there will now be two different options for filing design patents in China: the Hague system (designated extension) and the Paris Convention (direct entry). Based on our experience and analysis of the relevant regulations, we have the following preliminary suggestions on how foreign applicants should choose to enter China.