In February this year the European trademark community took note of a leaked version of the European Commissions’s draft trademark legislation in reaction to the widely discussed Study on the Overall Functioning of the European Trademark System presented by the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property in February 2011 (pdf, 4.5 MB).
- draft amended Council Regulation No 207/2009 on the
CommuniyEuropean Trade Mark,
- draft amended Regulation (EC) No 2868/95 on the fees payable to the OHIM,
- proposal for a Directive to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trademarks (Recast).
The leaked proposal is a pre-final text which gives extensive insight into the EU Commission’s plans to substantively refurbish the Community Trademark (CTM) system as we know it today.
The reasons why and by whom the legislative proposal was ‘leaked’ instead of being officially published on the EU servers lie in the dark, but it can be assumed that the political intentions outweigh the legal ones. As the drafts have been sent, inter alia, to the member organisations of the so called OAMI Users’ Group, a consortium of international NGO’s active in the IP sector and accredited to the OHIM, the leaker apparently intends to provoke a reaction of stakeholders, for instance to test the acceptance of the new legislation in a more conspirative way instead of risking open and public criticism.
The MARQUES association considers itself as a defender of trademark owner’s and system user’s interests. Compared to other member organisations of the OAMI Users’ Group, MARQUES appears to be more interested in a public discussion as it now again involved the public in a discussion that many other stakeholders consider a topic for closed expert circles only. The extensive comments (pdf, also here) published yesterday (20 March 2013) also include a detailled summary of the substance of the draft legislation.
By this open approach MARQUES refuses to become a silent accomplice of the leaker and his political interests and, even more important, reminds lawmakers that openness and public consultation are vital to a democratic community and the acceptance of its laws.
The new European patent system will provide two concurrent routes to patent protection on the continent, (i.) the classical EP bundle patent, “which does not benefit from unitary effect by virtue of EU Reg No 1257/2012” and thus has to be validated in each EPC member state where protection is sought and (ii.) the European Patent with unitary effect effective in all ‘contracting member states’ that have signed and ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) at the time of grant.
While Unitary Patents are mandatorily subject to proceedings and lawsuits before the Unified Patent Court (Art 3 (a) UPCA), this is not the case for classical EP patents (cf. Art 3 (c), (d) UPCA). For EP patents and applications pending at the date of entry into force of the Agreement, Article 83 UPCA defines a rather liberal transitional scheme allowing EP patent proprietors and applicants to make use of the present European post-grant patent system for many years to come. This transitional scheme consists of two basic elements, a transitional period and an opt-out mechanism.
With Document 7265/13 dated March 08, 2013, the Irish EU Presidency has published some information concerning setting up of the Preparatory Committee in the context of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. A meeting of the Friends of the Presidency group (Patents; see Document CM 1560/13) was convened on February 27, 2013, with the objective of both hearing and considering delegations’ views on how this Preparatory Committee could be organised. According to the recently published Document, a clear consensus emerged from the Signatory States endorsing a non-paper circulated by The Netherlands and Sweden, including the proposal that the work be driven by the Member States, and thus outside the framework of existing institutional structures. In this latter respect, a number of Signatory States offered to put their resources – human and/or logistical – at the service of the Preparatory Committee once it begins its work. The European Commission offered its expertise, as and when requested by the Preparatory Committee.
Now, the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) is invited to take note:
- of the agreed position of the Signatory States regarding the Preparatory Committee of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, as set out in the paper contained in the Annex to Document 7265/13 and in the cover note thereof;
- of the intention of the Presidency to convene the inaugural meeting of the Preparatory Committee on 26 March 2013 in Brussels; and
- that Council, at the appropriate level, will be kept informed of progress of the work of the Preparatory Committee when needed.
A list of four main tasks to be elaborated in groups with project teams can be identified:
- Legal framework,
- Financial aspects,
- IT & Facilities, and
- Human resources & Training.
The final package of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R.1249, pdf) will enter into force on 16 March 2013 (for a list of amendments and their effective dates, see here). By this date, the most significant amendments of the new Act will enter into force, namely the transformation from the traditional first-to-invent regime to the new first-inventor-to-file regime.
Besides reducing the USPTO’s backlog of approx. 680.000 patent applications and improving patent quality, the main objective of the America Invents Act is to harmonise the US patent system better with international patent law standards and by that facilitate second filings of US applicants in foreign jurisdictions.
This is indeed a brilliant idea, not only for US applicants but also for European applicants and practitioners, as it will align the US system closer with the European patent system. However, event for those legal instruments that are clearly adapted to the European point of view, important differences remain. Some of those tiny differences that may have a huge impacts on practice are outlined below:
On March 16, 2013, the final (third) package of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R.1249, pdf) will enter into force. This will include the transition from the traditional US fist-to-invent system to the first-to-file system as used in the rest of the world. In a recent press release the USPTO announced publication of the
- Examination guidelines for implementing the first inventor to file provisions and the
- Final rules to implement the first inventor to file provisions.
On this blog’s German sister blog ksnh::jur we recently published a series of three postings dedicated to the changes the America Invents Act causes to US patent law. As this piece of US legislation implements one of the most important reforms of internation IP law in recent years, its provisions, legal effects and possibel shortcommings have been extensively – and partly exellently – discussed by so many US blogs that there surely is no need to add another synopsis on a Europe-focussed IP blog like this.
However, as a large portion of our regular readers live and practice in the German-speaking part of Europe, we thought that some of them might appreciated to read about this topic in their mother tongue. The three articles are structured parallel to the three packages of the AIA that enter(ed) into force on 16 Sep 2011 and 16 Sep 2013 and on 16 Mar 2013:
Die Änderungen im US-Patentrecht durch den ‘America Invents Act’
Inspired by this discussion of our recent posting on the latest draft UPC rules of procedure it appears to be high time to have a closer look into Article 48 UPC and related Rule 286 RoP in order to possibly figure out the legislator’s idea of representation rights.
As European and German patent attorneys we still remember the recommendation of the 2006 Venice Patent Judges Symposium according to which only “attorneys-at-law who are fully entitled to represent parties in ordinary civil proceedings in the courts of first instance of the convention states” should be authorised to represent cases before the UPC (see Venice II resolution, page 11, item 5). Later, at the peak of the lobbying battle for representation rights (see e.g. here and here) also the European Parliament’s JURI Committee and its influential rapporteur Klaus-Peter Lehne, an attorney-at-law and partner of international law firm Taylor Wessing, urged it is of “utmost importance” that
the parties should be represented only by lawyers authorised to practise before a court of a Contracting Member State; the representatives of the parties might be assisted by patent attorneys who should be allowed to speak at hearings before the Court [2011/2176 (INI)]
Different voices came from industry organisations, patent practitioners and academia, who raised for good reasons (see here, here, here) that European Patent Attorneys should be authorised to represent their clients before the UPC as well.
Before this background, Article 48 UPCA can be understood as an acceptable compromise:
(1) Parties shall be represented by lawyers authorised to practise before a court of a Contracting Member State.
(2) Parties may alternatively be represented by European Patent Attorneys who are entitled to act as professional representatives before the European Patent Office pursuant to Article 134 of the EPC and who have appropriate qualifications such as a European Patent Litigation Certificate.
(3) The requirements for qualifications pursuant to paragraph 2 shall be established by the Administrative Committee. A list of European Patent Attorneys entitled to represent parties before the Court shall be kept by the Registrar.
(4) … (7)
According to this provision, basically three groups of professionals are authorised to independently represent cases before the UPC, namely
- European Patent Attorneys having the European Patent Litigation Certificate, and
- European Patent Attorneys having an appropriate qualification.
Today, on February 19, 2013 at 1415h, the signing ceremony of the International Agreement on the establishment of the Unified Patent Court
will take has taken place in the Justus Lipsius building of the Council of the European Union located in Brussels.
The event can be followed by video streaming:
As far as we know, 22 countries are today going to sign the Agreement (in brackets: year of accession to EU or predecessor organisations):
- Austria (1995),
- Belgium (1952),
- Cyprus (2004),
- Denmark (1973),
- Estonia (2004),
- Finland (1995),
- France (1952),
- Germany (1952),
- Greece (1981),
- Hungary (2004),
- Ireland (1973),
- Italy (1952),
- Latvia (2004),
- Lithuania (2004),
- Luxembourg (1952),
- Malta (2004),
- Netherlands (1952),
- Portugal (1986),
- Romania (2007),
- Slovakia (2004),
- Sweden (1995), and
- United Kingdom (1973)
Bulgaria (2007),(see UPDATE below) the Czech Republic (2004), (see UPDATE below)
- Poland (2004) and
Slovenia (2004)(see UPDATE below)
have indicated that they would not be in a position to sign the agreement next week because they still had technical issues to resolve. They are expected to sign at a later date.
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While nowadays most of the initial filings with the European Patent Office (EPO) or with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) are made via electronic means, a lot of other communication between the respective Office and the applicants or their representatives usually still is dealt with by paper-based means. For example, the EPO sends an awful amount of registered letters every day, and the OHIM mainly uses telefax for sending out Official communications and for receiving responses thereto.
In this context it should be noted that the new Unified Patent Court will be the first major European institution in the field of IP which adopts a policy solely allowing electronic communication, effectively banning all paper-based backdoors. Article 44 of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court stipulates:
The Court shall make best use of electronic procedures, such as the electronic filing of submissions of the parties and stating of evidence in electronic form, as well as video conferencing, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.
In the 14th Preliminary set of provisions for the Rules of procedure of the Unified Patent Court this matter is picked up by Rule 4, reading as follows:
Rule 4 – Lodging of documents
Written pleadings and other documents shall be lodged at the Registry in electronic form. Parties shall make use of the offcial forms available on-line.
“Written pleadings and other documents shall be lodged at the Registry in electronic form” – no exceptions allowed. At first we note that the internal competence for dealing with filings appears to lie with the Registry of the Court. As a second point, there will be “offcial forms” for each and every potential filing which must be usted and, after being filled in, filed electronically.
Moreover, throughout the full text of the Draft Rules of Procedure there are 25 mentions of “electronic address” of the Court and/or parties involved.
Neither those above-mentioned “official forms” nor the “electronic addresses” are explained in any technical detail within the Draft of the Rules of Procedure.
Closely related to these on-line issues are telephone and video conferences as indicated in Rule 105. There is no Rule defining applicable technologies for such purposes.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »
A few days ago, the 14th Draft of the preliminary set of provisions for the Rules of procedure of the Unified Patent Court dated January 31st, 2013, has appeared on the Internet. This means that now all main components of the new EU Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court system are either final or at least available in a quite recent draft version. The text comprises 382 Rules and covers a wide range of procedural law to be applied in cases before the new court, including:
- Application and interpretation of the Rules of Procedure,
- Procedures before the Court of First Instance,
- Provisional Measures,
- Procedures before the Court of Appeal,
- General provisions,
- Fees and legal aid.
This is just a brief note that the final text of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court has just been published today. It is available in Document 16351/12 via the Document server of the Council of the European Union.
Hard-coded in Article 84 (1) is a provision setting the date on which the Agreement open for signature by any Member State to
February 19, 2013.
The Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council December 17, 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection has already been published in the Official Journal of the EU Number L 361/1 dated December 31, 2012.
The Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council December 17, 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements has already been published in the Official Journal of the EU Number L 361/89 dated December 31, 2012.
The k/s/n/h::law blog
Some of the patent attorneys of the KSNH law firm have joined their efforts to research what is going on in the various branches of IP law and practice in order to keep themselves, their clients as well as interested circles of the public up to date. This blog is intended to present results of such efforts to a wider public.
- March 2013 (5)
- February 2013 (4)
- January 2013 (5)
- December 2012 (5)
- November 2012 (5)
- July 2012 (5)
- June 2012 (8)
- May 2012 (5)
- April 2012 (3)
- March 2012 (4)
- February 2012 (5)
- January 2012 (6)
- December 2011 (12)
- November 2011 (9)
- October 2011 (9)
- September 2011 (4)
- August 2011 (7)
- July 2011 (4)
- June 2011 (1)
- business methods (4)
- EPC (4)
- EPO (8)
- EU law (84)
- European Patent Law (34)
- German Patent ACt (PatG) (1)
- German patent law (5)
- Germany (4)
- Pirate Party (3)
- International Patent Law (3)
- PCT (1)
- IP politics (10)
- licenses (2)
- Litigation (5)
- Patentability (6)
- Patents (12)
- Piratenpartei (2)
- Software inventions (8)
- Uncategorized (9)
- Unitary Patent (19)
- US Patent Law (2)
- Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out | ksnh::law | European Unitary Patent News | Scoop.it on Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out
- Abon on Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out
- Volker 'Falk' Metzler on Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out
- Abon on Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out
- Volker 'Falk' Metzler on Aspects of the UPC (1): Transitional Scheme and Opt-Out
- RT @IAM_magazine: It will be 2016 at the earliest before Europe's new unified #patent court is up and running. http://t.co/xIJXuaI2N4 2013/05/17
- 15th Draft of Preliminary set of provisions for the Rules of procedure of Unified Patent Court #UPC #unitarypatent http://t.co/GzO5tlxfYA 2013/05/17
- RT @KeltieLLP: Hearing news that UK ratification of #UPC may not happen until mid 2015 meaning the earliest start date = late 2015/2016 #un… 2013/05/16
- RT @axelhorns: Unified Patent Court: No need for a #referendum before ratification in the #UK. http://t.co/hCyM7gG84F #UPC #unitarypatent 2013/05/13
- Her Majesty the Queen: "A further bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property." http://t.co/XkNYDUcqH8 2013/05/08
- RT @ManagingIP: UK IP bill announced by Queen Elizabeth II @BritishMonarchy today: will cover #unitarypatent & design reforms http://t.… 2013/05/08
- RT @axelhorns: EU Council Doc 8904/13: Report on the functioning of the MoU on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods via the Internet -- http://t.c… 2013/04/29
- RT @ksnhjur: Neu im ksnh::jur Blog: Moderne Zeiten oder: DPMA und Patentgericht streiten über die elektronische Akte - http://t.co/1xT73rpq… 2013/04/25
- RT @VisaePatentes: #UEFA #ChampionsLeague #semifinals: Germany 8 Spain 1! #estupendo 2013/04/24
- RT @axelhorns: EU Council 8065/13 / COM(2013) 161 final: Community Trade Mark Reform -- http://t.co/n3hAjkyqmx #EuropeanTradeMark 2013/04/08
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