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James has worked as an editor and journalist for 21 years specializing in intellectual property law and practice. He was Editor of Managing Intellectual Property from 2000-2017 managing all editorial content for the magazine and online including the annual rankings of the world’s IP law firms. He launched the conference newspapers for INTA, AIPPI and AIPLA events and has originated and moderated conferences, webinars and awards dinners for Managing Intellectual Property and organizations including EPO, WIPO, EUIPO, INTA, ECTA, UCL-IBIL and Fordham IP Institute. He is a member of MARQUES Communication and Membership Team and was an INTA Committee member.
The countdown to the launch of the EU Unitary Patent has begun, with the new system expected to start before the end of this year. The final legal step took place on January 19, when Austria deposited its instrument of accession to the Protocol on Provisional Application of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. It is the 13th country to take this step, meaning that the provisional application period has now entered into force. In practice, this means that UPC judges and other staff can now be recruited, IT systems set up and budget confirmed. The provisional period is expected to last at least eight months, i.e. until late September 2022, although it could be as long as 12 months.
The International Trademark Association (INTA) has made an amicus submission before the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in a case concerning parallel imports and EU trademark law. (Case C-175/21 Harman International Industries, Inc. v. AB SA.) In the case at hand, Harman, which makes audiovisual equipment, brought trademark infringement proceedings in Poland against AB, a distributor. AB had put on the market goods featuring Harman’s trademarks, which it had obtained from a third party. Europe operates a system of regional exhaustion, as set out in Article 15(1) of the EUTM Regulation, and in parallel imports cases national courts have referred to “goods which have not been put on the market within the European Economic Area (EEA) by the right holder or with his consent.” (Gender-neutral language has not yet become established in EU jurisprudence). In this case, Harman argued that the goods had been imported into Poland and had not been put on the market within the EEA by Harman or with its consent. AB claimed it had received assurances when it bought the goods that the trademark rights were exhausted.
Last week, IPWatchdog selected five significant patent developments in Europe, examining what has happened this year and what can be expected in 2022. Here, we review five of the top trademark and copyright decisions and legislative changes across Europe and what’s coming up in the new year. One of the most significant trademark decisions of 2021 came in a case over Hasbro’s EUTM registration for MONOPOLY. The registration, for goods and services in classes 9, 16, 28 and 41, was declared invalid by the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal on the basis that Hasbro had acted in bad faith. On April 21, the EU General Court upheld that decision.
As part of its review of 2021, IPWatchdog takes a look back on five patent stories from the past year in Europe, and highlights what further developments to expect in 2022. In 2021, Europe took a giant leap towards the implementation of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC). After years of delays arising from disputes over rules and language, the U.K. signing up and then withdrawing, and constitutional objections filed in Germany, it now seems highly likely that the new system will launch in late 2022. The pivotal step in this process was the decision by Germany’s Federal Constitutional on July 9 to reject as inadmissible two applications seeking to prevent the country from ratifying the UPC Agreement. (BVerfG, Beschluss des Zweiten Senats vom 23. Juni 2021- 2 BvR 2216/20 -, Rn. 1-81.) Following the decision, reported on IPWatchdog here, Germany ratified the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA, and Slovenia also did so in October.