In a recent decision, the High Court of England and Wales has found that Tesco’s use of the yellow and blue Tesco Clubcard logos (reproduced below) infringed Lidl’s trade marks (see the relevant Lidl marks below) and also gave rise to copyright infringement and passing off.Read More
The USPTO on April 21, 2023 proposed a variety of changes to the pre-institution requirements and briefing process for post-grant proceedings, including both IPRs and PGRs. Among the proposed changes are broad amendments to the discretionary denial frameworks, which are intended to provide clarity, curb abusive litigation tactics, and generally align procedure with the objectives of the AIA. The deadline for submitting comments and suggestions related to these rules is June 20, 2023. The proposed rules provide valuable insight into the future of post-grant proceedings before the PTAB. An overview of these changes is outlined below, and additional details follow.
- Parallel Proceedings – The USPTO is considering changes to the Fintiv framework, including the elimination of current factors 1, 2, and 5, a requirement for a Sotera stipulation, and a grace period that would exempt petitions filed within 6 months of service of the complaint from being discretionarily denied under this rule.
- 325(d) Framework – The USPTO is considering a rule that would reign in the application of discretionary denial under 325(d) by limiting its application to art or arguments that had been “previously addressed,” or actually evaluated by the patent office as articulated on the record, such as in a rejection, notice of allowance, or examiner interview. Mere citation in an IDS will no longer meet the standard. Prior art will only be considered “substantially the same” where it contains the same teaching relied upon in the petition, and that teaching was addressed by the patent office.
- Serial Petitions – The USPTO is considering replacing the existing framework for serial petitions with a rule that will deny any serial or follow-on IPR petition filed by: (1) the same petitioner; (2) a real party in interest to that petitioner; (3) a party with a significant relationship to that petitioner; or (4) a party who previously joined an instituted IPR filed by that petitioner. There will be an exception where the earlier petition was not resolved on the merits of the petition, or where exceptional circumstances are shown.
- Prior Adjudications – The USPTO is contemplating stricter requirements where a prior final adjudication by a district court or in a post-grant proceeding upheld the validity of claims that substantially overlap the challenged claims, essentially requiring the petitioner (1) either has standing to challenge the validity of the patent in district court or intends to pursue commercialization, (2) was not a real party in interest to the party who unsuccessfully challenged the claims, and (3) meets the heightened burden of compelling merits.
- Micro and Small Entities – The USPTO is mulling changes that would protect under-resourced entities by denying institution where the patent owner (1) claimed micro or small entity status at the time of filing; (2) did not exceed a gross income cap in the calendar year preceding filing of the petition; and (3) was commercializing a product covered by the challenged claim at the time of filing.
- For-Profit Entities – The USPTO is contemplating a rule that would deny any IPR or PGR petition by a for-profit entity that has not been sued or threatened with infringement of the challenged patent, is not otherwise practicing in the field of the challenged patent, and is not in “substantial relationship” with an entity to which the rule would not apply.
The USPTO has also proposed changes to the disclosure requirements, what constitutes compelling merits, and termination by settlement filing requirements. An in-depth discussion of each suggested change is included below.Read More
Companies continue to face difficulties in achieving EU trade mark protection for their slogans. In separate recent decisions of the EU General Court, two trade mark applications relating to advertising slogans were rejected on the grounds that the marks lacked the ‘distinctive character’ required to be registerable under Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001. These two decisions join a long list of case law rejecting similar applications.Read More
Generative AI systems like ChatGPT and DALL-E have been attracting media attention for their potential to cause disruption across a range of industries. In a recent report, Goldman Sachs estimated that generative AI systems could impact 300 million full-jobs globally. In the same report, Goldman Sachs found that the same AI systems could also boost global productivity and lead to a 7% increase in annual global GDP.Read More
European Patent Office: Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G2/21
The Enlarged Board of Appeal EBoA is the highest judicial authority under the European Patent Convention. It handles patent examination for about 37 member states including the EU. The EBoA has recently published its decision G2/21 dealing with the principle of free evaluation of evidence in the context of inventive step. This decision is relevant for patents in the pharma, biotech and life science field.Read More
Hydrogen production technology, according to the joint EPO-IEA report summarizing patent trends in the hydrogen economy (summarized here), accounts for the largest percentage of patenting activity since 2011 among the three primary stages of the hydrogen value chain (i.e., (i) production, (ii) storage, distribution, and transformation, and (iii) end-use industrial applications). Trends show a shift in hydrogen production from carbon-intensive methods to technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels. The bulk of recent increased patent activity is directed to electrolysis development, while patent activity related to production from biomass and waste has decreased.Read More
The High Court has clarified the test for trade mark infringement, with a unanimous rejection of Allergan Australia’s claims against Self Care IP Holdings Pty Ltd (Self Care) for the use of “PROTOX” branding on anti-wrinkle skin care products in Self Care IP Holdings Pty Ltd & Anor v Allergan Australia Pty Ltd & Anor  HCA 8.
Self Care was successful on all matters on appeal, with the Court finding that Self Care did not use “instant Botox alternative” as a trade mark, “PROTOX” was not deceptively similar to “BOTOX”, and the phrase “instant BOTOX alternative” was not used in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).Read More
In the UK, we have seen an increase in regulator activism, and particularly, in relation to advertising misleading consumers. This can be seen in the recent spate of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) investigations and a whole host of the UK Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) decisions. Companies will need to take extra care as the CMA may get some (very large) new teeth from the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (“Bill”).Read More
A recent preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the joint cases (C-148/21 and C-184/21) between a luxury fashion brand known for its signature red-soled heels Christian Louboutin and an e-commerce giant Amazon might mark a start of an era of increased accountability of marketplaces in relation to listings of third parties they accommodate on their platforms.Read More
We are used to decisions about non-traditional trade marks not deserving protection in the European Union, leading to the inevitable conclusion that non-traditional trade marks can be difficult to register and keep on the register.
The recent McCain decision of the EU General Court seems to go into the opposite direction, providing some guidance on which proof of use will be sufficient for a non-traditional trade mark to stay on the EU register (see here).Read More