Posts Tagged: "European Union"

INTA: ‘COVIDIOT’ Trademark Should Prevail Under Narrower Test for Principles of Morality

The International Trademark Association (INTA) on Friday filed an amicus brief with the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO’s) Grand Board of Appeal, arguing that “the terms ‘public policy’ and ‘principles of morality’ are inherently vague and therefore carry with them a risk of an inconsistent application and a danger of each examiner being tempted to follow personal preferences rather than clear legal guidance” with respect to a trademark on the term “COVIDIOT” not being “fully in line with public standards.” The case is Matthias Zirnsack vs. EUIPO, Case R-260/2021-G.

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.

OECD/EUIPO Report: China and Hong Kong Account for 75% of Dangerous Counterfeits

A new study on trade in counterfeit goods that pose health, safety and environmental threats has found that China and Hong Kong account for some three-quarters of exports of dangerous counterfeits. It also found that online sales represent 60% of seizures of dangerous products destined for the EU. The 90-page study was published on March 17 and jointly conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). It is based on customs seizure data and other enforcement data from 2017 to 2019, as well as interviews with enforcement experts.

INTA Weighs in at CJEU on EU Parallel Imports Case

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.

Who Owns Basmati Rice? India and Pakistan Battle for GI Rights

A decade-long legal battle over the fragrant, long-grain Basmati rice is heating up between neighboring countries, India and Pakistan. Both countries are attempting to claim exclusive ownership over Basmati in the lucrative European market, and the battle is now coming to a boil. Geographical Indications (GIs) establish intellectual property rights (IPRs) for products that originate from specific regions and attribute qualities, reputation or other characteristics linked to the geographic area. GIs are covered under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and is also governed by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

EU Offers Alternative to COVID-19 IP Waiver That Supports Innovation and Addresses Supply Chain Problems

On June 4, the European Commission submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) its proposal for improving access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in countries suffering from vaccine shortages. The plan was submitted as an alternative to other proposals that would eliminate international patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments under the premise that such action would improve vaccine access in poorer countries. While the EU alternative contemplates the possible use of compulsory licensing, it addresses supply chain issues that will help to inoculate the entire globe against COVID-19 much more quickly than any patent waiver could ever hope to accomplish.

INTA Comments in George Orwell EUTM Cases on Names and Titles

The International Trademark Association (INTA) last week filed amicus briefs before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) Grand Board of Appeal in three cases concerning applications to register EU trademarks (EUTMs) for the words GEORGE ORWELL, ANIMAL FARM and 1984. The  briefs concern the registration of trademarks for names of historical persons/famous authors (the GEORGE ORWELL case) and titles of literary or artistic works (the ANIMAL FARM and 1984 cases). All of the applications were filed in 2018 by The Estate of the Late Sonia Bronwell Orwell (George Orwell’s second wife, who survived him and died in 1980) without evidence of acquired distinctiveness through use.

Joint EPO-EUIPO Report Finds SMEs Stand to Benefit Most from IP Ownership

The latest in a series of reports by the European Patent Office (EPO) and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) studying IP-intensive industries and their contribution to economic performance and employment in the European Union has found that companies owning at least one patent, registered design or trademark generate higher revenues per employee than companies that do not own IP rights and pay higher wages on average than other companies. The EPO-EUIPO report is titled “Intellectual property rights and firm performance in the European Union” and builds on research conducted in 2013, 2016 and 2019 regarding the contribution of IP-intensive companies to the EU economy, as well as a 2015 EUIPO study based on data from 12 Member States. The latest report analyzes over 127,000 European firms and compares the economic performance of firms that own IPRs with those that do not.

Qualcomm Suffers Court Setback in EU Antitrust Case

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last week ruled against Qualcomm in an antitrust case over UMTS-compliant baseband chipsets. The case dates back to April 2010, when UK company Icera Inc. filed a complaint accusing Qualcomm of predatory pricing by supplying three chipsets to its customers Huawei and ZTE at below cost price…. The judgment gives the Commission the green light to seek a broad range of information in antitrust investigations, which may have implications for actions against other tech companies.

The Top Five European Patent Developments of 2020

It’s the time of year to reflect upon the cases and trends that have shaped IP over the past 12 months. Here are our picks for the top five in patents from Europe. First, it’s been a year of ups and downs for the EU’s attempt to create a Unitary Project and Unified Patent Court. (UPC) In March, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court said that the Act of Approval of the UPC Agreement in the country was void as not enough members were present at the vote. Following the UK government’s decision that it would withdraw from the project, the Court’s decision was seen as potentially a terminal blow.

European Commission Launches Antitrust Action Against Amazon

The European Commission has formed a preliminary view that Amazon has breached Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by distorting competition in online retail markets. It announced on November 10 that it had sent a Statement of Objections to the e-commerce company. Article 102 (formerly Article 82 TEC) prohibits “any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it.” Amazon is said to be dominant in France and Germany, its biggest markets in the EU. The Commission said that Amazon systematically relies on non-public business data of independent sellers on its marketplace to the benefit of its own competing retail business. This data includes the number of units of products ordered and shipped, sales revenues, and the number of online visits made to offers.

Patent Rights and Wrongs in the COVID-19 Pandemic: EU and U.S. Approaches to Compulsory Licensing

As governments around the globe fight the COVID-19 outbreak, pharmaceutical companies race to develop a vaccine and potentially secure a patent for it. To speed the process, much of that effort builds on known drugs for other diseases. The World Economic Forum reports that 70 potential vaccines are currently in development around the world. According to a BBC report, research is in progress on more than 150 additional drugs globally, with many pre-existing drugs being trialed for potential usefulness in combatting COVID-19. Those which can are giving it their best shot—for people as well as profit. In the wake of this COVID-19 vaccine and patent sprint, questions arise concerning affordable and universal access: will governments, especially poorer ones, be able to secure affordable access to a vaccine if and when one becomes available? Can a patent owner actually be forced to license a COVID-19 vaccine for the benefit of the greater good? The answers are likely yes to both, depending where you are.

Death at a Funeral – or Birth? Why the German Court’s Decision on the UPC May Not be the End

n Friday, March 20, the German Constitutional Court (“Bundesverfassungsgericht”, “BverfG”) declared Germany’s approval legislation of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) unconstitutional. Those who have gone into full mourning over this decision, calling it the death knell of the UPC, may find the coffin to be far from shut. Instead, the UPC may have been given a second lease on life, and those with substantive concerns about the UPC may end up wearing the black ribbon in the long run.

German Decision Puts Unified Patent Court Agreement in Jeopardy

Judges in Germany have dealt what may be a fatal blow to the project to create a Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Europe. In a decision published today, the German Federal Constitutional Court said the Act of the Approval of the UPC Agreement was void. (BVerfG, Beschluss des Zweiten Senats vom 13. February 2020 – 2 BvR 739/17 -, Rn. (1-21).) The Act of Approval was passed unanimously by the Second Chamber of the Bundestag but only about 35 members were present. The Court said that a two-thirds majority of the Bundestag was required.

UK Rules Out Participation in Unified Patent Court, Defines Priorities for FTAs

The UK Government has confirmed that the country will not be part of the planned Unified Patent Court (UPC). The decision was revealed in a statement sent by a government spokesperson to IAM Magazine on February 27, after it had been hinted at in an electronic mailing distributed by a trade association and shared on social media. This represents a reversal of policy, since the UK ratified the UPC Agreement in April 2018. Ironically, the minister who signed the ratification was the then Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. He is now the Prime Minister. However, the change was expected after the government published its approach to negotiations on the future relationship with the EU earlier on February 27. This document explicitly ruled out “any jurisdiction” for the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the UK.