Shhh….Keeping the Secret Secret and Trade Secret Litigation

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“Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone”

(Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret)

I doubt Josh Homme was thinking about trade secrets when he wrote the above lyrics, but there’s some valuable “legal advice” hidden in those lines. Namely, as often pointed out, once a trade secret is out, it may be lost forever.

Indeed, the secret maybe lost but not necessarily given away for free. Trade secret legislation is designed particularly for these unfortunate situations. Once the secret is out, you may not be able to get it back in the bottle again. But you may be able to stop further spreading of the secret and at least get some damages from the perpetrator. This will usually mean you will have to go to court for enforcement. And this is where it may get a bit tricky: Alas, in order for the enforcement to be successful you will probably have to disclose your secret. That doesn’t sound very tempting if your trade secret is valuable, does it? Continue reading “Shhh….Keeping the Secret Secret and Trade Secret Litigation”

Is the product-by-process claim “dead” in Japan?

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After the Supreme Court in Japan handed down a very important judgment in 2015 on the scope of the Product-by-Process (“PBP”) claim, and its doubtful validity concerning the clarity requirement (Pravastatin sodium case, a drug lowering the cholesterol in blood), the authorities commented that the PBP claim is “dead” because almost all PBP claims would be fairly likely to be invalidated according to the Supreme Court’s strict judgment on its patentability. However, very recently, the IP High Court handed down a relevant judgment on this issue, wherein it basically followed the Supreme Court judgment but limited the application of the Supreme Court’s judgment to the “true” PBP claim.

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Competition law in the pharmaceutical sector: Aspen fined for excessive pricing in Italy

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The Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) has recently found that Aspen Pharmacare had increased the prices for some of its oncohematological drugs up to 1500% and imposed to the South African multinational a 5 million Euro fine for violation of art. 102, letter a) of the TFEU. Aspen has already communicated that it will appeal the decision.

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Chinese Patent Office proposed revisions to its Examination Guidelines

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On 27 October 2016, the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) released proposed revisions to its Guidelines for Patent Examination for public consultation. According to SIPO’s explanatory note, the proposed revisions are aimed to strengthen the IP protection for innovation in emerging fields such as Internet, e-commerce, big data etc., to improve the IP protection system for business models, to improve the post-grant patent documents amendment system and timely disclosure of procedural information on patent examination.

Mainly, the following revisions are proposed: Continue reading “Chinese Patent Office proposed revisions to its Examination Guidelines”

The strategies for patent litigation under the double track system in Japan

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In my previous posting (here), I described advantages and problems in the two systems, i.e., the double track system and the bifurcation system in patent litigation. In this posting, I, as a Japanese patent litigator, would like to introduce several practical strategies for patent litigations under the double track system in Japan in the form of Q&A.

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A recent case in China concerning the Patent Office’s burden to prove common knowledge in patent examination

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To determine whether an invention involves an inventive step, the Chinese Patent Office’s Guidelines for Patent Examination (the “Guidelines”) require the patent examiner, inter alia, to make a judgment, starting from the closest prior art and the technical problem actually solved by the invention, as to whether or not the claimed technical solution is obvious to a person skilled in the art in the light of relevant reference documents and common knowledge. As the Guidelines do not give a strict definition of “common knowledge” and, in practice, the examiner is not required to prove common knowledge when he/she first introduces it, what should be qualified as common knowledge in a particular case often becomes a subject of dispute.

Recently, the Beijing IP Court handed down a decision (No. 3495 [2015]) resolving such a dispute. In its decision, the Court reaffirmed the Patent Reexamination Board (PRB)’s burden to state reasons or provide corresponding evidence for proof, if the interested party has objections to the common knowledge introduced by it. The Court further clarified the relationship between the 3GPP (a telecommunications industry collaboration that organizes several important standards from GSM through UMTS and LTE to 5G) standards documents and common knowledge, considering the increasing frequency of these documents being cited as prior art in telecommunications area. Continue reading “A recent case in China concerning the Patent Office’s burden to prove common knowledge in patent examination”

The GS Media decision and ‘communication to the public’?

The CJEU quite recently handed down its decision in the GS Media case (C-160/15, available here). In said case, the CJEU revisits the notion of ‘communication to the public’ of the InfoSoc directive. The case concerns a situation where the material has originally been placed on the internet without the consent of the copyright owner. If the content has been made freely available on another website with the consent of a copyright holder, there would usually be no ‘communication to the public’ (see e.g., the Svensson decision, C-466/12 available here).

In GS Media, the CJEU distinguished between i. non-commercial use and ii. use for profit. If the hyperlink is placed on a website that operates for profit, the person who posts the hyperlink has a duty to check if the content was originally placed on the web without the consent of the copyright owner. Further, if the website operates for profit, it is presumed that the posting is made with full knowledge of the protected nature of the relevant work and the potential lack of consent of the copyright owner. This presumption can however be rebutted.

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