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The EPO’s Draft Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection

EU flagIPcopy commentator Antonio Pizzoli has pointed us in the direction of the EPO’s draft rules relating to the Unitary Patent Regulation which you can find here (thanks Antonio!). IPcopy hadn’t come across this document before, and it makes for an interesting, if slightly worrying, read.

Clearly it is a work in progress, and the draft is peppered with interesting comments and alternative proposals.


Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!…to the UK patent attorney qualifying exams.

IPRegMost readers in the patent profession will be aware that changes are afoot in the way trainee patent attorneys will qualify as Chartered Patent Attorneys (CPAs). The changes are spearheaded by IPReg, the regulatory body for patent and trade mark attorneys, and IPReg has released a consultation document, inviting comments.

The proposed changes affect both the foundation and advanced level exams and are, in short, the abolishment of all the foundation exams, to be replaced with approved taught university courses (currently there is an option between these two routes: as a rough estimate, 20-25% of candidates typically take the foundations route), and the abolishment of Advanced papers P3 (drafting) and P4 (amendment) to be replaced with the equivalent European Qualifying Examination (EQE) papers, or the EQE as a whole (currently, candidates may either sit P3 and P4, or may gain exemption by passing the equivalent EQE papers: many candidates will sit P3 and P4 at least once, even if they ultimately use the exemption for qualification).

As someone who is currently training in this profession, and who, last October, sat three of the exams that would be jettisoned by these changes (two foundation papers and P3), I have some fairly strong feelings on IPReg’s suggestions. They are not positive. I confess that I morph into something of a grumpy old man when the subject comes up in conversation, so this post might get a bit ranty. It’s probably best enjoyed with some kind of rousing, team-building, battle-inducing tune in the background*.


Can I patent it?: A quick-guide flow chart for inventors

Can I get a patentGot a fantastic invention? Wondering whether or not it’s worth filing a patent application for it? Then definitely don’t pay any attention whatsoever to this flowchart, and go and get some proper advice from somewhere…


Even more amendments to Clause 13: The good, the bad, and the puzzling

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

As ipcopymark has already reported, this week David Willetts has proposed amendments to Clause 13 of the Intellectual Property Bill that are, in IPcopy’s view, a step in the right direction. Hot on the heels of David Willetts’ amendments, Iain Wright has now put forward further amendments. A tracked copy of the proposed changes to Clause 13 is below, with Willetts’ proposals in red, and Wright’s proposals in blue.

Wright’s proposals are an interesting bunch. They expand on the notion that the copying must be deliberate, and bring in a criteria a person commits an offence if he knows that the acts committed would infringe the registered design, or is reckless as to whether they infringe the registered design. However, the proposed amendment to subsection 5 removes the defence that the design right was not infringed, replacing it with the criteria that the defendant reasonably believed that the registered design was not infringed. IPcopy’s view is that it would far preferable to keep both of these defences. There is also a puzzling addition of a new subsection 7A which defines the term ‘design right’ as including an unregistered Community design. Since the term ‘design right’ does not actually appear in this section it is unclear to IPcopy what this new subsection would add. If you have any thoughts, please let us know!

Also worth noting are Wright’s proposed additions to Clause 1 (that within 12 months the Secretary of State will undertake a review as to how these provisions have advanced the design industry in the UK), and Clause 8 (that within 6 months the Secretary of State will report on plans to publicise the law changes with the objective of educating holders of design rights), and a proposed new Section of the Patents Act that would introduce a “Director General of Intellectual Property Rights” with responsibility for, amongst other things, promoting the creation of new IP and educating consumers as to the importance and nature of IP rights.


Has Malta ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement?

MaltaSo far, Austria is the only state to have ratified the UPC Agreement, with the remaining UPC countries being slow to take the second spot on the ratification podium. But unconfirmed rumours (with thanks to Michael Carter of Wragge & Co for the heads-up) are now circulating that Malta may have ratified the UPC Agreement.

An article in the Malta Independent explains that the Agreement was discussed in the Maltese parliament, and states that “PN MP Jason Azzopardi said that he had signed the ratification on behalf of a PN-led government.”

A delve into the Maltese Parliament’s website reveals that yesterday’s proceedings (21 January 2014) included a debate on Motion 78 -Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – Presented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Justice. Among the text of the motion (thanks Google tranlsate – my Maltese just isn’t what it used to be) is the statement that “Malta has now passed the ratification process , to be carried out in accordance with article 3 of the Act on Ratification Treaties ( Cap 304 ) Authorizing the Maltese Parliament to ratify the Agreement ( Patent Court Industrial unified ) Unified Patent Court ( UPC ) which was signed on 19 February 2013“.

We haven’t been able to confirm the ratification just yet, but all signs indicate that Malta has indeed ratified the Agreement and taken the number 2 spot…

Emily Weal 22 January 2014

Malta, Spain and Virgin v Zodiac: Why ignoring the Malta problem will delegate the decision to the EPO

EU flagThere has been a resurgence of Virgin v Zodiac in IP news recently, owing to a UK Court of Appeal Decision that upheld Mr Justice Floyd’s High Court decision in full (see, for example, Amerikat’s IPKat article here, and an Article in The Lawyer here [with which IPcopy heartily disagrees]).

Virgin v Zodiac was, of course, very important in overturning the Unilin principal relating to awards of damages. However, another important issue was caught up in this case, which is now catching the eyes of IP reporters, and which has some surprising relevance to Unified Patent Court matters: the UK patent that was the subject of this litigation should never have existed, and only came into being as a result of a procedural error made by the EPO’s Examining Division. Specifically, the Examining Division failed to notice that the Applicant had explicitly asked that the UK not be designated when the European application had been filed, and had erroneously given the application a European designation. (more…)

The twelve patents of Christmas

Felix was not impressed with his festive headgear and began plotting a messy end for his owner's favourite shoes

Felix was not impressed with his festive headgear and began plotting a messy end for his owner’s favourite shoes

IPcopy will be taking a Christmas hiatus while we all eat too much food and watch Doctor Who, so you will all have to make do without us for a week or two. In case anyone finds themselves in need of an IP-fix over the Christmas period, we’ll leave something to keep you entertained.

And what could possibly be more festive than a good Christmassy invention? Well – twelve Christmasy inventions set to music, that’s what!

All together now: On the first day of Christmas my patent attorney gave to me…


Movember patents: Top five moustache-related patents

Mo badge smallIt’s Movember folks! The time of year when gentlemen around the world cultivate facial topiary to raise money for excellent causes. And so that they can look dashing, of course.

IPCopy is celebrating Movember with a run-down of our favourite moustache-related patents. Why some of these products are no longer available for purchase in a gentleman’s fashion establishment near you is a total mystery…


The Duffin Controversy: Fear not Bea – all is not lost!



As a lover of all things food-related, I was surprised this week to hear of a tasty baked good that hadn’t yet made it onto my radar – and a tasty baked good that has come to the world’s attention as the subject of an IP dispute, no less! What more could a girl ask for? Readers will probably already be aware of the ‘Duffin’ – the donut-muffin hybrid that has been made and gradually popularised by Bea’s of Bloomsbury since 2011, and that is now the subject of a trade mark registration by a company that supplies Starbucks (boo hiss taxes etc, etc).

Now, I’m no trade mark attorney – patents are more my bag – so if a contentious issue like this stumbled across my path, I’d be hailing down one of my esteemed trade mark colleagues to untangle it. But as it happens, I’ve spent most of this week committing as much trade mark law as possible to memory in preparation for professional exams, and this real-life example has served as excellent revision fodder.

A few basics of trademark law shed a lot of light onto this situation, and the real legal situation is rather different from the picture that might appear at first sight. Could big-bad Starbucks really stop Bea’s bakery, and others, from using the name Duffin? Well, purely as a self-training exercise, here’s my personal take on the situation.


Unpacking the Trunki Judgement: Designs and Copyright with Magmatic vs PMS International


Trunki’s CRD

[Update 2 March 2014: According to a number of newspaper reports on 28 February 2014 the High Court decision discussed in the post below has been overturned by the Court of Appeal. Update: 4 March 2014: the Court of Appeal decision is out and IPcopy’s follow up post can be found here]

Anyone who has passed through an airport recently will be familiar with the now infamous Trunki: the ingenious child’s ride-on suitcase that, I’m reliably informed, makes travelling marginally less traumatic almost bearable fun for all the family. Trunkis, sold by Magmatic Ltd, first rose to fame on the UK TV show Dragons’ Den, when the Dragons foolishly let the chance for a slice of the Trunki pie slip through their fingers. Unhampered by this rejection, Trunkis have taken the world by storm, and Magmatic have, to put it bluntly, made a Trunki load of cash out of them.

PMS, a plastics manufacturing company, noticed the success of the Trunki and saw a gap in the market for a discount version. Their product, the “Kiddee Case” sought to fill this gap. Magmatic claimed for infringement of its Community Registered Design Right, its UK Unregistered Design Right, and its copyright in the trunki case and it accessories. The cases found themselves before the Hon. Mr Justice Arnold earlier this year, and the judgement includes some particularly interesting conclusions. [A side-by-side comparison of the CRD, Trunki and Kiddee case can be seen here]

The full Judgement can be found here, and is a relatively accessible read, but IPCopy is here to guide you through the important questions decided by the Hon. Mr Justice Arnold. So, keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times, hold on tightly to the curly antennae in front of you, and let us tug you along through the highlights of the case…