Many things have happened in the world of IP and competition law in 2018. At TrustinIP, we have had some extraordinary guest posts, which is why we would like to take the opportunity to thank all the contributors and all our readers and wish everyone a happy new year. We are very proud to be a truly international blog with contributors from all over the world. The guest posts topics have concerned emerging inventions and technologies such as Crispr Cas9 and blockchain as well as wider policy questions such as copyright after Brexit or the patent working requirement in India. Below, we have summarized the guest posts from this year.Continue reading “Happy New Year from us at TrustinIP!”
Setting the Stage
The general objective of the ATRIP organization is to contribute to the advancement of teaching and research in the field of the law of intellectual property (“IP”). The previous annual conference was organized in New Zealand. This year it was time to head north when the conference was organized in Helsinki and the topic was “Fairness, Morality and Ordre Public in Intellectual Property”. As a Finn, it was of course a particular pleasure to see around 160 IP scholars from all over the world in one’s hometown.
On the Stage
The first morning session on Monday kicked off with the overarching topic of “Measuring and Defining Fairness, Morality and Ordre Public in IP Law”. This session was chaired by Graeme Dinwoodie (Chicago-Kent College of Law, USA). Questions discussed were inter alia fairness in international IP instruments as well as public order. The second session, “Fairness, Morality and Ordre Public: What Does it Mean for Authors?” was chaired by Sam Ricketson (University of Melbourne, Australia). In this session, the balance of rights bwetween right holders and the authors were discussed as well as “fair” remuneration for authors. There was also a quite interesting presentation of copyright in street art by Pascale Chapdelaine (University of Windsor, Canada). One of the afternoon sessions had the topic “Fairness, Morality and Ordre Public: What Does it Mean for Groundbreaking Technologies?” and was chaired by Jens Schovsbo, (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). Here the presentations inter alia dealt with AI, blockchain and 3D printing.
(Note: The picture is unrelated to the Finnish case)
Setting the Stage
Copyright plays a very important role in the creative industries. But what also plays a very important role for the mere existence of those industries is inspiration. Virtually every musician or artist is inspired by other musicians or artists, every painter is inspired by other painters, that is the way the world works and denying this would be quite naïve to say the least. This short introduction brings us to the topic of this post. If you create an entirely new and independent work, you will not have to seek any permission from the copyright owner to reproduce or distribute your own work. This is the rule in many jurisdictions in the world. But if you use another’s work to make an adaptation, you would need permission. But where to draw the line?
Judgment of the Swedish Supreme Court
On 21 February 2017, the Supreme Court of Sweden had handed down a judgment (T 1963-15) in a quite interesting case. At the heart of dispute was a photograph and a painting which was alleged to infringe Swedish copyright law. The photographer had followed a person who was a suspect in the murder of the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Plame. The photographer managed to get a photo of the suspect, which was then used in the mass media. Another individual then used the photograph as a model and painted a work which he named “Swedish scapegoats”. The painter displayed the painting on the Museum of Modern Arts in Stockholm, published a picture of the painting on his website and sold posters of the painting. The question at dispute was whether the painter had infringed the copyright attached to the photograph.
The question was whether the work was an independent work or an adaptation, which is dependent upon the original work. The Supreme Court briefly compared the two works and did consider that one could, at a first glance, come to a conclusion that the painting would be an adaptation of the photograph. However, there were differences related inter alia to the technique used.
Additionally, the evaluation had to be made based an overall consideration. The Supreme Court held that the painting was indeed to be considered to be an independent work. The Supreme Court considered the painting to have a different purpose compared to the photograph. The purpose of the painting was not to portray the individual, which was of course the main purpose of the photograph. Rather, the painting was created to critique the general need to have scapegoats in mass media and was also considered to be a commentary of the current times and society. The person depicted was considered a phenomena in the painting and a bearer of the symbolic message expressed by the painting.
During a recent annual meeting, China’s highest legislature, the National People’s Congress approved a sweeping government restructuring plan. As part of the plan, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), which so far acts as a patent office only, will additionally incorporate the functions of managing trademarks and geographical indications of origin (GIs), which are currently administrated by separate administrative organs. Therefore, in the future, all applications for patents, trademarks and geographical indications of origin in China will be filed at the SIPO, and the SIPO will be responsible for examining and subsequently registering these IP rights. Further, based on China’s existing dual administrative and judicial system for enforcing IP rights, the SIPO will also be in charge of administrative adjudication of disputes involving patents, trademarks and GIs, and supervising their administrative enforcement. Continue reading “China to restructure the State Intellectual Property Office”
In my previous post from January last year I discussed reverse engineering in light of the Trade Secrets Directive (“TSD”) as well as the Software Directive (“SD”). I strongly recommend you to review my previous post (here) before reading this piece, since said post lays the foundations for the arguments and considerations discussed below.
The focus of this article will lie on implementation of the provision on reverse engineering in Finnish legislation. A very interesting aspect here is the relationship between trade secrets and copyright, which is why I have chosen to discuss in particular in this post.
As a consequence of the adoption of the TSD, the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (“MEAE”) assigned a working group to prepare the national implementation of the TSD in Finland. On 18 October 2017, the working group published its recommendation (“Finnish Proposal”) in which it proposes reform and consolidation of the Finnish legislation concerning the protection and civil enforcement of trade secrets. The aim is to enhance the protection of trade secrets by providing effective legal remedies against trade secret misappropriation. In the Finnish Proposal, it is suggested that the TSD would be mainly implemented by a wholly new Trade Secrets Act.
China’s first lawsuit for infringement of graphical user interface (GUI) design has been recently concluded by the Beijing IP Court. This case has attracted much public attention, as GUI designs have become protectable in China by so-called design patents only as of 1 May 2014, and despite a large number of GUI design patents being granted since then, their enforceability remained untested until the present case. The judgment issued on 25 December 2017 now results in heated discussion and leaves, in particular, software developers counting on strong GUI design protection very disappointed. Continue reading “Beijing IP Court delivers the first judgment on GUI design infringement in China”
On 18 August, China has officially launched its first “Internet Court” in Hangzhou, which city is known as the Chinese e-commerce capital, and is home to Internet giants such as Alibaba and NetEase. The name “Internet Court” has a two-fold meaning: First, this court specializes in resolving Internet-related cases including disputes regarding contacts of online shopping, services and microfinance loans, Internet copyright disputes and domain name disputes etc. Second, all court proceedings in this court can be conducted via an Internet platform. Located in a normal court building in Hangzhou shared with another local court, the Internet Court is nevertheless ready to accept cases filed electronically from all over the country, to hold online mediations, to examine electronically submitted evidence, to hold oral hearings with litigants via video conference, to deliver judgements and to accept applications for enforcement orders, all via Internet. Continue reading “China’s first Internet Court”
In April, 2017, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan revealed a report on a new design of an IP system taking the 4th industry revolution into consideration. The report discloses the possibility of introduction of a compulsory license on SEPs (Standard Essential Patents) in upcoming several years.
In my previous post (here), I discussed the reverse burden of proof on an international level and the potential tension which could emerge between the patent and trade secrets regimes in this context. In this post, I will turn the focus to Europe and discuss the regional provisions as well as the relevant provisions of the UPC Agreement.
The Enforcement Directive and the Trade Secrets Directive
There are a few provisions in the Enforcement Directive on confidentiality in court proceedings. The need to preserve confidentiality in intellectual property litigation is recognized in the recital of the directive (Recital 20). In addition, a few provisions (Arts. 6 (2), 7 (1) and 8 (2) (e)) of the directive deal with the protection of confidential information in IP litigation.
The drafters of the directive have recognized the need to protect the confidential information of the adverse party. But what is to be noted is that the Enforcement Directive does not contain any provision on the reverse burden of proof in patent litigation, or the protection of trade secrets in these situations.
The Trade Secrets Directive includes a specific provision (Art. 9) on the protection of trade secrets in litigation concerning the unlawful use or disclosure of a secret (See my post on trade secret litigation here). Ergo, said provision is not applicable in patent litigation. However, Art. 9 of the Trade Secrets Directive could provide for certain general examples of how trade secrets could be protected in patent litigation. These include restricting access to documents, restricting access to hearings, and providing non-confidential versions of judgments. There should for example be no immediate obstacle for a national legislator to include similar provisions in national laws.
Last November, I reported on the GS Media case (C-160/15), which certainly gave rise to some debate. It appears that the CJEU is quite actively handing down judgments in the area of copyright. This is perhaps not too surprising, since the member states still have quite different national legislations and the harmonization from the EU is by no means exhaustive. Additionally, and more importantly, especially national copyright laws lag behind the rapid technical development, which is why many questions of interpretation may arise in national courts.
Only a few days ago, on 1 March, the CJEU handed down its judgment (C-275/15) in the case TVCatchup II. The national law in the UK included a provision, which roughly provided that copyright is not infringed in the case of immediate retransmission by cable. The relevant question from the UK court was “whether Article 9 of Directive 2001/29, and specifically the concept of ‘access to cable of broadcasting services’, must be interpreted as covering and permitting national legislation which provides that copyright is not infringed in the case of the immediate retransmission by cable, including, where relevant, via the internet, in the area of initial broadcast, of works broadcast on television channels subject to public service obligations.”