Archive | 2015, October | (6) posts

Crowdsourcing or a maker – do you need to care about IP?

In recent year’s crowdsourcing, i.e. inviting a community to take part in developing a new product or service has become increasingly popular. The instant feedback from the community allows for a rapid and agile development process, where everyone taking part in the development can feel great pride in the finished product.

Simultaneously a movement called “makers” has grown all over the world, and where so called makerspaces are started in almost every larger city. The makerspaces are often premises where the makers can find the tools they need to create things, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, welding tools etc.

These two movements have a common denominator in that they are based on sharing knowledge and ideas. This goes against the basic rule that we as patent attorneys are trained to think about, that is – keeping your invention secret at least until a patent application has been filed.

Some makers and crowdsourcers might think, it is all out there, we are all sharing information and knowledge among us and therefore IP, such as patents and designs is nothing that we have to care about. That is in fact only partially true.

It is of course difficult to protect the things that created in a crowdsourcing community, but it might still be possible if you think about it before you start the process. It is therefore important that you decide on beforehand if you want to protect the product or not, and stick to that plan, i.e. if you go open from the beginning then stay open.

You must also make sure that you are not infringing someone else’s IP rights, which might be the biggest danger with crowdsourcing and makers. For a maker this is of course only the case if you intend to commercialize the product or service that you are developing.

Also, before you decide on which route to take, and even if your first line of financing is through crowdfunding – keep in mind that many investors may still have a more traditional take on things – and request that there are IP rights in play before they decide to invest in your company.

Sofia Willquist, European Patent Attorney

Unified Patent Court – one step closer to opening the Court

On October 1 2015, a Protocol to the UPC Agreement was signed by first seven member states [1]. It is open for signing by the remaining Signatory States of the UPC Agreement from this date.
The aim of the Protocol is to allow for some provisions of the UPC Agreement to be applied early, i.e. before the Court opens, in a provisional application phase. The Protocol will enter into force the day after 13 Signatory states (including Germany, France and the UK) have ratified the UPC Agreement.

This provisional application phase will allow for the recruitment of judges and testing of the IT system. Having judges appointed and trained at the date the Court opens is important, as it is conceivable that the Court could receive cases essentially on the first day the Agreement comes into effect.

Further to this, the protocol also allows for the Registry to be operational, which would possibly allow for patent holders to file their opt-out requests for European patents and also Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPC) before the Court opens, during a so called “sunrise period”.

The articles that would come into effect before the Agreement are thus mainly of an institutional character, Article 1-2, 4-5, 6(1), 7, 10-19, 35(1, 3 and 4), 36-41 and 71(3) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and Article 1-7(1), 7(5), 9-18, 20(1), 22-28, 30, 32 and 33 of the Statute of the Unified Patent Court. Article 1 is related to Establishing the Unified Patent Court. Articles 15-19 are related to the appointment of Judges and Article 10 is related to the Registry [2].

Sofia Willquist, European Patent Attorney

Italy joins the unitary patent!

On 30 September 2015, Italy joined the unitary patent. Italy will thus form part of both the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) upon entry into force. So reports the Commission of the EU here.

Italy is the country in which the fourth largest number of European patents is validated. The Italian decision is therefore very good news for patent applicants with an interest in the Italian market, as the present requirement of a complete translation into Italian in order to validate a granted European patent in Italy will thus become obsolete upon entry into force of the unitary patent.

Hence, the unitary patent with its single procedure for the registration of patents in all participating countries has with Italy joining become even more attractive for small and large applicants alike.

The unitary patent and the UPC will enter into force simultaneously when at least 13 out of the 26 member states with Germany, France and the UK being mandatory have ratified the agreement. At the time of writing this a total of 8 of the member states have ratified the UPC, namely Denmark, Sweden, France, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Malta and Luxembourg.

It is at present expected that the unitary patent and the UPC will enter into force by the end of 2016 or at latest in the beginning of 2017.

Troels Peter Rørdam, European Patent Attorney & Certified Danish Patent Agent

Global Innovation Index 2015: Switzerland, UK and Sweden at the top

The recently issued Global Innovation Index (GII), which is co-published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD Business School, ranks the innovation performance of 141 countries and economies around the world based on 79 indicators.

Published annually since 2007, the GII is used as a tool for policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders when evaluating the impact of innovation policies on an economy’s degree of development. The index strives to encompass several aspects of innovation, including policies that promote growth and productivity.

“Innovation holds far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth in countries at all stages of development. However, realizing this promise is not automatic,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. He adds: “Each nation must find the right mix of policies to mobilize the innate innovative and creative potential in their economies.”

Sweden defends its 3rd position from 2014, a feat which according to Susanne Ås Sivborg, president of the Swedish Patent Office (PRV), is “fantastic”.

Regarding the rankings of the most innovative companies, it is highly interesting to compare different lists, statistics and opinions. For example, although the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson stands out regarding the number of filed patent applications (9th position of companies in terms of applications filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2014), the retail-clothing company H&M is the only Swedish company in Forbes’s recent listing of the 100 most innovative companies in the world , found at place 86.

Love Koci, MSc, PhD, European Patent Attorney

European patents can now be validated in Moldova

On 1 November 2015 an agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the State Agency on Intellectual Property of the Republic of Moldova allowing European patents to take legal effect in Moldova will enter in to force.

Thereby, applicants with a European patent application will after this date be able to validate their granted patent in Moldova – and thus obtain patent protection in Moldova in a significantly cheaper way than hitherto.

Until, and by all likelihood also after, 1 November 2015 patent protection in Moldova may be obtained by filing national patent applications and/or PCT national phase applications.

In any event, for applicants interested in obtaining protection in Moldova the new validation procedure should prove significantly cheaper and more streamlined than applying for a direct national patent in Moldova.

The detailed requirements as to documents and translations required are not yet published, but the Awapatent IP Blog will monitor the development with interest to keep our readers updated.

With the addition of Moldova, it is now possible to obtain patent protection based on a European patent in 42 different countries, which in addition to the 38 member states also include the two extension states of Bosina & Hercegovina and Montenegro as well as Morocco by means of the validation agreement between EPO and the Moroccan IPO.

Troels Peter Rørdam, European Patent Attorney & Certified Danish Patent Agent

(Read the EPO press release)

Controversy behind Ms. Tu Youyou, the first Chinese female Noble Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced on 5 October. It was rewarded with one half to Tu Youyoufor her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria” and the other half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura.

“Chinese people wish to win Nobel Prize for long time,” said Professor Tu, a 85-year-old scientist, in a telephone interview made by Nobel Media following the announcement. Yes, it is indeed great news for all Chinese in this Golden National Holiday.

“Project 523”, a task force dedicated to find anti-malaria drugs, was initiated in the late 1960s in China, where Professor Tu, together with other Chinese scientists and researchers, was a sub team leader. During the years 1969 to 1972, Professor Tu extracted artemisinin and verified its functionality in curing malaria.

In Chinese media controversy, apart from praise, is also drawn to Professor Tu and her research regarding artemisinin. Though her contribution to the discovery and low-temperature extraction process of artemisinin is widely admitted, there are other scientists who claim that they were the real inventors of the extraction process.

A patent is normally one of the best evidences to resolve such inventor disputes, simply because a patent includes not only a disclosure of an invention, but also the inventor’s name and a set of exclusive territorial rights in a limited time period.

Back to artemisinin and the fact that no patent application was filed by Professor Tu, or any of the other scientists who were involved in “Project 523”, until year 1977. This is when the first scientific paper was published in Chinese to disclose the chemical structure of artemisinin.

How did this happen? Is China not known for its rapid development in intellectual property (IP)? According to the statistic of WIPO, in 2013, China accounted for the largest number of patent applications received by any single IP office — a position that has been held since 2011. Among the top ten IP offices in 2013, China’s IP office saw the fastest annual growth at 26.4% in received filings.

Surprisingly, unlike the western countries, the concept and the value of IP were hardly known in China prior to 1980, which was the year when China joined WIPO. Not to mention that Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China was not enforced until 1 April 1985.

These facts could be the reason why Professor Tu did not file any patent application related to artemisinin in the 1970 and now neither she, nor any other scientist can claim ownership to a patent relating to this great discovery.

Nevertheless, every life saved by artemisinin counts. Professor Tu and all the other scientists who contributed to the research of artemisinin will be appreciated for their great contribution to the world.

Last but not least: Our warmest congratulations to Professor Tu!