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EPO, AIPLA, 3D piracy and twitter settlement

James Nurton

Recommendations on improving the EPO, the AIPLA president on two landmark biotech cases; a novel way to settle disputes; 3D printing latest and answers to yesterday’s questions feature in today’s IP news roundup

Evolution not revolution at EPO

EPOMore harmonisation of the fees charged for patents by EU member states; more sharing of information between IP offices; and greater transparency about who owns patents: these are just three of the recommendations made by an EPO advisory board to improve patent quality. The EPO’s Economic and Scientific Advisory Board, whose members include Ruud Peters and Robin Jacob and which is chaired by Dietmar Harhoff, has just published its recommendations for improving the patent system. Reassuringly for policy makers, the Board favours incremental rather than wholesale improvements to the system, arguing that there is no need for fundamental patent fee reform and that patent thickets are not the root cause of issues relating to patent quality. But the Board’s report might not lead to changes any time soon: the EPO is keen to stress that it is an independent body whose “opinions do not commit the Office in any way”.

AIPLA president on biotech cases

AIPLAYou may have noticed that we have been hosting occasional guest posts by Jeffrey ID Lewis, this year’s AIPLA president. I particularly recommend his post this week on the two biotech cases being heard by the US Supreme Court (Bowman v Monsanto and AMP v Myriad). Jeff explains very clearly why these two cases are so important and what is at stake in each of them. As he says, both cases involve important social and ethical questions for the Court to consider. Whether you practise in biotechnology or any other area of IP, his analysis is well worth reading.

Monbiot worth more than money

twitterIt’s not an IP dispute, but the settlement agreed between activist George Monbiot and politician Lord McAlpine is worth reflecting on. Last year, Monbiot was one of many twitter users who posted defamatory comments regarding McAlpine. He apologised, but McAlpine instructed lawyers to take action against the offending tweeters. Now the two have agreed a settlement whereby no money will change hands but Monbiot will do £25,000-worth of work for three charities of his choice. I wonder if this could become a model for resolving disputes where monetary remedies are not really appropriate.

Piracy – the next dimension

First, we had the development of 3D printing. Now, inevitably, we have the prospect of 3D piracy. The BBC reports on the launch of a “Pirate Bay for 3D printing”. Defcad, the company in question, apparently intends to flout copyright law by providing blueprints for making 3D objects. Who will sue first, and where, I wonder? The founder of Defcad, Cody Wilson, doesn’t provide much reassurance: he describes himself as a crypto-anarchist and previously developed 3D gun parts. Worst of all, he’s a law student.

Trade mark answers

Here are the answers to our three questions yesterday: the Canadian practitioner who once worked as a stewardess for Air Canada is Keri Johnston of Johnston Law; David Stone of Simmons & Simmons revealed that he worked out in a public gym with Hugh Jackman while on a recent business trip to Los Angeles that coincided with the Oscars ceremony; and the MARQUES team that enjoyed local Spanish refreshments was the unfair competition team (they were provided by Baker & McKenzie partner Cristina Duch). Not, as you might have thought, the geographical indications team.


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