Posts

Showing posts from January, 2010

Patents: Fisher Rosemount Systems Inc.'s Application

The first decision from the Comptroller for 2010 offers an interesting discussion on how to assess an invention's technical contribution when applying the Aerotel/Macrossan and Symbian guidelines.
In Fisher Rosemount Systenms Inc. Application BL 0/003/10 12 Jan 2010 the applicant appealed against the examiner's report that the claims of the invention were excluded from patentability because they related to a computer program as such. The invention related to a process control system and in particular to a method of accessing process control data, viewing and modifying that data and using the modified data to update control programs within the system. The invention described a method by which the operator is able to develop and to add functionality to his or her own applications at any time without the need to rewrite or compile the control system software. The applicant claimed: "A system for accessing process control data, comprising: a pre-generated partial class that i…

Costs: Why not abolish the Patents County Court?

I have just finished reading Chapter 24 of Sir Rupert Jackson's final report on costs (Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report) which was published yesterday. It is a good report and I welcome its proposals for intellectual property.
However, back in July 2009 I proposed a more radical solution to the IP Bar Association and the working group of the Intellectual Property Court Users' Committee ("IPCUC") that was set up to formulate proposals for the reform of the Patents County Court. IPCUC did not see fit to include my suggestions in its submissions to Jackson (which is understandable since they call for the abolition of the Patents County Court and an extension and reform of the Comptroller's jurisdiction) but I still they think they have merit.
As Jackson's recommendations will require primary legislation there will have to be a debate in Parliament and perhaps elsewhere on how best to improve intellectual property dispute resolution in the UK (or…

Trade Marks: Firecraft - a Cautionary Tale and More Work for the IP Bar

In Evans and another v Focal Point Fires Plc [2009] EWHC 2794 Mr. Justice Peter Smith granted summary judgment to the claimants in a claim for passing off. The claimants, who had sold fire surrounds in partnership under the name "Firecraft" since 1991, sued one of the UK's largest manufacturers of gas fires for marketing its products under the registered trade mark FIRECRAFT since May 2001.

The basis of the judge's decision was that the issue of passing off had already been determined in the Trade Marks Registry of the IP Office by the hearing officer, Mr. James, on behalf of the Registrar in invalidation proceedings. By his decision of 18 Nov 2008 Mr. James declared the registration invalid under s.47 (2) (b) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 on the ground that the claimants had an "earlier right" within the meaning of s.5 (4) (a) of the Act. That sub-section provides:

"A trade mark shall not be registered if, or to the extent that, its use in the United Kin…

Patents: US Patent Filings

A table of the top 50 US patent filings for 2009 appears in a press release by Kivett & Co, Communications based on data analysed by IFI Patent Intelligence. Top of the list is IBM with 4,914 patent applications followed by Samsung (3,611), Microsoft (2,906), Canon (2,206) and Panasonic (1,829).
The presence of a Korean company as number 2 followed by Japanese companies in 4th and 5th slots has been the focus of attention in the USA. According to the press release 51% of all applications were made from overseas: 23% from Japan, 5.6% from South Korea and Germany 5.2%. Sadly there were no British applicants in the top 50 and the top European applicant was Siemens of Germany with 716 applications.
The press release notes some American successes: GM up by 68% since last year and Cisco, Boeing and Xerox by 30%, 26% and 18% respectively.
See also Steve LeVine's article in Business Week: "IBM may not be the Patent King after all".
For a table of patent grants for the UK f…

Patents: Molnlycke v BSN

This is another case on Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. The main issue was whether a claim in England for infringement of a European patent should be stayed while an application for a declaration of non-infringement proceeded in Sweden under art 27 (1) of that Regulation. It turned on whether the claim in England was between the same parties and involved the same subject matter as the proceedings in Sweden.
The Applications In Mölnlycke Health Care AB and another v BSN Medical Ltd. and another [2009] EWHC 3370 (Pat) the defendants applied for a stay of the English proceedings because they had applied for declarations in the Stockholm district court that the patent in suit did not prevent them from marketing their Cutimed Siltec wound dressings in the UK. The claimants made a cross application for an interim injunction to restrain BSN from marketing that product until judgment or further order. …

Copyright: Lucasfilm Ltd v Ainsworth

Image
Every so often a case comes along that is remembered for having something to say on more than one important issue. One such case was Catnic Components Ltd. v. Hill & Smith Ltd. [1982] R.P.C 183 which is cited not just for Lord Diplock's speech on purposive construction of patent claims but also for the so called Catnic defence to copyright infringement. Another example isOccular Sciences Ltd v Aspect Visions Care Ltd [1997] RPC 289 which contributed to the law of confidence and design rights. The judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lucasfilm Ltd. and Others v Ainsworth and Another [2009] EWCA Civ 1328 was such a case. The Lord Justices considered what constitutes a "sculpture" for the purposes of s.4 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. whether the "design document" and/or the industrial process exceptions to copyright in s.51 and s.52 of the Act could apply, equitable title to commissioned works, whether there is such a thing as "extra EU ju…