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EPO trends, TRIPs, iPhone cases, Twitter’s patents and the TPP

James Nurton

Today’s roundup of IP news and views on the web includes the 2012 filing data from the EPO, a surprising recommendation on TRIPs implementation, dodgy iPhone cases, what’s behind Twitter’s patent agreement and IP issues in the TPP

Samsung takes the lead in Europe

There's no escaping Samsung. Figures published by the EPO today revealed that the Korean electronics company became the largest applicant at the Office last year. Siemens and BASF were second and third, while ZTE became the first Chinese company to make the top 10, rising from 43rd to 10th. Total filings at the EPO grew 5.2% to 257,744 while the number of published patents reached 65,687 – a new record.

Should the poorest countries ever implement TRIPs?

Nick Ashton-Hart of the Computer and Communication Industry Association in Geneva makes an interesting argument for allowing the least developed countries (LDCs) to implement TRIPs whenever they want, with no deadline. He acknowledges that some are surprised that an industry association would support this plea by the LDCs, but he believes it is the only way the IP system will gain legitimacy. Little is said, however, about what the attitude of other industries, such as pharmaceuticals and sports or luxury brands, should be. Perhaps a phased extension, with the possibility of incentives for compliance, would be a better idea.

iPhone covers Chanel

iPhone funnies

On the MarkMatters blog, Arnaud Bos takes a look at some of the funny iPhone cases available on websites such as and featuring brands such as VW, Chanel and Nutella. He points out that these products are being sold and are free-riding on the reputation of famous brands but adds that most trade mark owners will not lose sleep over them: "There are probably better ways to spend their money." I'm sure that's true in most cases but where do you draw the line? Does there have to be a certain volume of goods sold before you take action, or does the infringement have to be particularly threatening (involving say a swear word or an offensive image)?

Not worth a tweet

What is Twitter's Innovator's Patent Agreement (where the company promises not to sue anyone unless for a defensive purpose) worth? On the IP Copy blog, Mark Richardson takes a look in more detail and reveals that Twitter is recorded as the owner of just two published US patent applications, while subsidiary TweetDeck is the owner of one. What's more, the promise not to sue does not apply if the other company has sued Twitter within the last 10 years. "All in all, the Innovator's Patent Agreement doesn't really appear to amount to much of a big deal for Twitter itself," concludes Richardson.

Too much IP in TPP?

TPP – three letters we may all soon become familiar with. Yesterday PhRMA urged the negotiators from 11 countries participating in the latest round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Singapore to "prioritize the protection of intellectual property". In particular, PhRMA wants 12 years of data protection for biologics. Its latest intervention may be a reaction to criticism that the proposals – which include countries ranging from the US to Brunei – will harm developing countries. With more countries expected to join the TPP, this is a debate to follow closely.


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