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5-a-day: CTM changes; CLS v Alice and the return of Kim Dotcom

James Nurton

Managing IP’s daily round-up of five IP-related developments in the past 24 hours


1. Tackling EU trade marks

It's over a year late, but it looks like the European Commission’s proposals for reforming trade marks in Europe are close to being finalised. They’ve not been published, but Managing IP has seen drafts of the changes to the Trade Marks Directive, CTM Regulation and Fees Regulation. Will trade mark owners/applicants welcome them? On the whole, probably: the Commission has tried to solve some tricky issues that have emerged on the limits of the legislation – the graphical representation requirement and goods-in-transit for example. And to tackle the alleged cluttering of the register the Commission wants to make it cheaper to file in just one class rather than three. But with CTM fees so low anyway, will that make a difference to applicants’ behaviour? This will be the start of a lively debate.

Federal Circuit2. Arguing over Alice

CLS v Alice could be the most important patent case of this year: on Friday all the active judges of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reheard arguments in the dispute concerning patent eligibility of software. Dennis Crouch on the PatentyO blog has a good summary of the oral argument (CLS Bank v. Alice Corp: Oral Arguments Lead to More Questions) and you can also listen to the proceedings on the Court’s own website. Outgoing USPTO director David Kappos recently told Managing IP that software patents need addressing, a view that is echoed by companies such as Google. But with the Myriad gene patent case pending at the US Supreme Court, and in the light of recent reverses, will the Federal Circuit dare to be bold?

3. Judges on TV

The Federal Circuit’s audio recording is great, but the UK Supreme Court goes one better with its live video stream, available on the Sky website. Yesterday and today you can watch IP barristers Henry Carr QC and Michael Silverleaf QC do battle over the reproduction of newspaper headlines in the Public Relations Consultants Association v NLA case (often still referred to as Meltwater). Judgment in this copyright dispute is expected in the next few months, but in the meantime the to-and-fro between barristers and the five judges is pretty entertaining (though traditionalists will be disappointed that the Supreme Court has done away with wigs and gowns).

Melbourne IT4. Infographic of the day

Thanks to Melbourne IT DBS for news of another record-breaking year for UDRP cases at WIPO, complete with illustration featuring among other things a dancing mutt in a bikini. The UDRP has been good for brand owners (complainants won 88% of cases before WIPO last year) though with the number of cases increasing every year it can hardly be said to have deterred cybersquatters. With the first new gTLDs just months away from launching, that is a worry. News that Icann is close to solving the dilemma of how to create a cheap, quick alternative for slam-dunk cases (URS in the jargon) is promising.

5. Hello Kim!

It was just over a year ago that Kim Dotcom first came to public attention, with a raid on his New Zealand mansion that launched a hundred lawsuits. Sadly, as the legal battles progressed, Kim went quiet – before emerging at the end of last year with a new file-sharing service to succeed the shut-down Megaupload. He’s also back on twitter, with messages such as: “After we win our case I am going to buy an Olympic size swimming pool... filled with the tears of copyright extremists.” If Kim ever tires of the copyright piracy business, you can’t help thinking he would be perfectly cast as the next Bond villain.

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