On sausages and Facebook/WhatsApp – Germany reforms its antitrust act (part 2 of 2)

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Guest post by Rupprecht Podszun, professor of Civil Law, German and European Competition Law at the University of Düsseldorf *

The German legislator currently amends the competition code so as to update it for the digital economy. This is a pioneering step. After having examined part of the proposed amendments yesterday (see here), this post will describe the new rules for the digital economy.

New rules for the digital economy

The implementation of the directive and the closing of the sausage gap coincided with a heated debate in German media on the power of internet companies, these Voldemorts from the Silicon Valley. Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and the head of the influential German media house Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner, led the campaign against Google & Co. And so, Gabriel’s ministry came up with new rules for the digital economy. Continue reading “On sausages and Facebook/WhatsApp – Germany reforms its antitrust act (part 2 of 2)”

On sausages and Facebook/WhatsApp – Germany reforms its antitrust act (part 1 of 2)

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©Bundeskartellamt


Guest post by Rupprecht Podszun, 
professor of Civil Law, German and European Competition Law at the University of Düsseldorf *

The German legislator currently amends the antitrust act so as to update it for the digital economy. This is a pioneering step. This post will deal with some of the proposed amendments, while the next post (see here) will describe the new rules for the digital economy.

All EU Member States are working on a change of their competition law statutes, and actually should have completed that work by December 27, 2016. They need to implement the EU directive on antitrust damages claims (2014/104/EU) which aims at facilitating damage claims for victims of cartels and other anti-competitive practices that violate Art. 101 and 102 TFEU. At present, a mere handful of Member States has communicated success in amending their laws (see here). Continue reading “On sausages and Facebook/WhatsApp – Germany reforms its antitrust act (part 1 of 2)”

The lords of law – Veit Stoll (MSD)

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TrustinIP inaugurates a series of interviews to lawyers that stand apart for their excellent skills. We will ask these “lords of law” to  express their view on legal issues and personal opinions, hoping to give our readers some enjoyable minutes. We start with Veit Stoll, Director Legal Affairs & Compliance for MSD Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Good morning Mr. Stoll. What’s the weather like today in Munich?

Pretty fair. Partly sunny and some degrees Celsius above zero.

Today you are a renowned lawyer. What led you into studying law? As a school student, did you wish to become a lawyer?

Yes. Always wanted to be independent and have a broad education as basis for a variety of career choices. Continue reading “The lords of law – Veit Stoll (MSD)”

Recent developments on the admissibility of patent term extension in Japan

Drugs are not allowed to be marketed without a marketing authorization. Taking into account the investment on R&D for a new drug and the necessity to recoup such investment, the patent term may be extended by a period not exceeding 5 years if there is a period during which the patented invention cannot be worked. Later in this post, I will discuss the judgment of the Japanese Supreme Court in 2015, which caused the guidelines on patent term extension to be significantly amended.

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Continue reading “Recent developments on the admissibility of patent term extension in Japan”

Does IEEE’s IP policy comply with competition law?

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There is a large body of legal and economic literature on standard-essential patents (SEPs) and competition law that focuses on the availability of injunctive relief and strategic behaviour of SEPs’ holders. There is much less literature on the role of standard-setting organisations (SSOs) and their IP policies (I dealt with this topic here).

The IP policies of SSOs became a hot topic in 2015, when the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”), one of the most relevant SSOs active in the information and communication technology (“ICT”) sector, modified its IP policy with an effort to better clarify the “reasonable and non-discriminatory” (“RAND”) commitments that SEPs’ owners are supposed to accept through the submission of a letter of assurance (“LOA”). Continue reading “Does IEEE’s IP policy comply with competition law?”

Punitive damages slipping into IP enforcement in Europe?

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The U.S. is known to have a regime of punitive damages in many different areas of law. This concept has however not won any significant ground in Europe, where one usually is allowed to be awarded only the actual damages suffered.

Last week, the CJEU handed down a quite remarkable judgment on damages in IP infringement cases (case C-367/15). The Polish Supreme Court had sought guidance from the CJEU on how to interpret the Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC).

Poland had a national provision, which provided an alternative for an IP holder to seek damages corresponding to two or three times of a hypothetical license fee. The question was whether the Polish national provision could be seen to be compatible with EU law. The Advocate General (AG), in essence, answered in the negative (AG opinion). But the CJEU took a different approach. The CJEU concluded that the Enforcement Directive does not as such preclude a provision allowing for an IP holder to claim twice the amount of a hypothetical license fee. In its reasoning, the CJEU inter alia referred to international instruments (TRIPS, Berne, Rome) and also emphasized the fact that the Enforcement Directive is a minimum standard directive.

Continue reading “Punitive damages slipping into IP enforcement in Europe?”

Decompiling the rules on trade secrets, software and reverse engineering

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My last post concerned trade secret litigation (read it here), and since I am (at least momentarily) quite fascinated by the subject of trade secrets, I decided to do a follow-up post on another topical issue in this field. In trade secret law, two types of behavior are generally considered to be allowed: i. independent discovery and ii. reverse engineering. Especially the latter sparked discussion in the EU with the arrival of the new Trade Secrets Directive (2016/943) (“TSD”). Reverse engineering is allowed based on Art. 3 (1) (b) and recital 16 of the TSD. Recital 16 of the TSD stipulates that

“[…] Reverse engineering of a lawfully acquired product should be considered as a lawful means of acquiring information, except when otherwise contractually agreed. The freedom to enter into such contractual arrangements can, however, be limited by law.”

Let’s pause here for a moment and decompile this provision:

  • Main rule: If you lawfully acquire a product, you may reverse engineer it.
    • Exception: Reverse engineering is not allowed if it has been contractually agreed that such behavior is not permitted.
      • Exception to exception: However, the freedom to enter into such an agreement restricting the permissibility of reverse engineering may be restricted by law. This, in a sense, takes you back to the main rule in the first bullet point.

Continue reading “Decompiling the rules on trade secrets, software and reverse engineering”

Sad to CJEU Go? What Brexit Could Mean for Intellectual Property (part 2 of 2)

Guest post by William Wortley*

In this article we conclude our look at the potential implications of Brexit on the European intellectual property law framework. (Part 1 can be seen here).

Copyright

Although copyright is less harmonised than other areas of IP, it does not escape the potential ramifications of a “hard” Brexit. The Commission has signalled its intention to push forward with the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy, reshaping copyright to make it fit for the digital age. Certain legislation, such as the proposed Content Portability Regulation, are expected to come into force prior to the UK’s exit from the EU, although this will not stop it potentially losing effect post-Brexit if a settlement is not achieved. The regulation allows EU consumers to access digital content provided in their Member State of residence if temporarily in another Member State. If the content localisation provisions no longer applies after Brexit, content providers in the UK will be severely hampered by having to negotiate licences in the remaining Member States. The issue is of commercial importance to UK businesses, Continue reading “Sad to CJEU Go? What Brexit Could Mean for Intellectual Property (part 2 of 2)”

Sad to CJEU Go? What Brexit Could Mean for Intellectual Property (part 1 of 2)

Guest post by William Wortley*

It is over six months since the United Kingdom (UK) decided to leave the European Union (EU). The uncertainty surrounding the timing and form of the exit remains undimmed and much remains unknown about how IP rights will be affected. This week’s statement on Brexit by Theresa May make it an excellent time to revisit what the referendum result could mean for IP rights.

Patent Rights

Immediately after the Brexit vote, questions were raised about the implications for the Unified Patent Court (UPC). To the surprise of some commentators, the UK announced its intention to ratify the UPC agreement on 28 November 2016, stating that the UK would continue to work with the preparatory committee to bring the UPC into force as soon as possible. Continue reading “Sad to CJEU Go? What Brexit Could Mean for Intellectual Property (part 1 of 2)”

The Crispr Cas9 battle reaches oral arguments before the United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the stakes are favoring the Broad Institute

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Guest post by Lucia Tamayo Del Portillo*

In early 2012, a group of scientists from the University of California Berkeley (“UC”) led by Dr. Jennifer Doudna, in collaboration with the University of Vienna and fellow researcher Emmanuel Charpentier, filed the first patent application for a revolutionary gene-editing tool called Crispr Cas9.  The Crispr and its associated protein Cas9 is a natural existing response to immunological hazard that can be found in bacteria. By a combination of complex biochemical interactions, bacteria is able to identify foreign DNA, cleave to it, and then induce a break on the DNA strand, causing its instant deactivation. UC’s first patent application was broad and mainly tested in rather simple living organisms such as bacteria. Few months after this application, the Broad Institute (“Broad”) along with the MIT and the Harvard College, filed another patent application over the Crispr Cas9. Dr. Feng Zhang commanded the main research team behind this invention. This subsequent application was limited to the use of the Crispr Cas9 method in eukaryotic organisms for example, plants and animals. Continue reading “The Crispr Cas9 battle reaches oral arguments before the United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the stakes are favoring the Broad Institute”