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The IP highlights of 2014



James Nurton


The Alice decision in the US; INTA’s first Annual Meeting in Asia; controversial copyright exceptions in the UK; and China’s new Trade Mark Law all attracted attention this year. What were your highlights of 2014?

US Supreme CourtOver the coming week, we will be reflecting on some of the most significant cases, deals and legislative developments and remember some of the companies, individuals and law firms who have been shaping IP practice during the past year.

On Twitter, we will post links to our coverage of some of these issues, including the news, interviews and analysis we have run during the year using the hashtag #IP2014. Feel free to add your own memories from the year using the hashtag, join the discussion on LinkedIn or add your comments below.

Here’s just a few memories of the year to get started.

In the US, the Supreme Court made important interventions on business method patents (the Alice case) and in copyright ( Aereo) while practitioners adapted to the new procedures brought in by the America Invents Act, notably the PTAB. At the Federal Circuit, Chief Judge Sharon Prost took over after the dramatic departure of Randall Rader, while at the USPTO Michelle Lee was finally nominated as director. The Office was also criticised for its staffing practices and its interpretation of the Mayo and Myriad cases.

USPTOIn Europe, copyright issues were at the forefront, with the CJEU rulings in Meltwater and Svensson, a European Commission consultation and the implementation of the Orphan Works Directive. The UK introduced a number of new exceptions to copyright law, and also passed the IP Act which included provisions to make design infringement a criminal offence. Meanwhile, work intensified on the implementation of the Unitary Patent and UPC, and discussions on the reform of the Trade Marks Directive and CTM Regulation continued.

In Asia, the impact of the new Chinese Trade Mark Law implemented in May is still being felt, amid continuing concerns about bad faith applications and counterfeiting. Elsewhere in Asia, patents were in the spotlight with landmark FRAND decisions in India and Japan and Australia’s Full Federal Court going its own way on the Myriad patent.

Elsewhere, Canada pressed ahead with fundamental trade mark and anti-counterfeiting changes, while South Africa saw its first decision on Google AdWords and Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled on search engine liability. OAPI joined the Madrid Protocol, adding 17 countries to the system.

Francis GurryAt WIPO, Francis Gurry (right) was re-elected director general, and there were some new faces among the senior staff, while there were also new people in charge of IP at the European Commission. Towards the end of the year, the EPO was beset by strikes and controversy. ASIPI celebrated its 50th anniversary in Mexico City, and INTA marked its first annual meeting in Asia in a rain-soaked Hong Kong. In London, an IP Enforcement Summit was held in June.

Throughout the year, hundreds of new gTLDs were launched under Icann’s continuing programme, bringing opportunities and threats to brand owners. Patent trolls suffered reverses in the US, though Congress did not pass any new laws. Actavis was sued by the New York Attorney General, and Interflora and M&S had their UK AdWords dispute sent back to the High Court. In more amicable news, Apple and Samsung settled all their patent litigation outside of the US.

So, what are your memories of 2014? Which cases, changes and trends do you think were important this year? Join the debate below or using #IP2014 on twitter.

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