The A-Z of IP In 2015
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The A-Z of IP In 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, James Nurton looks back on some of the year’s major IP developments – from the Australia High Court to Zynga – and provides links to our coverage of them


A: The Australia High Court was responsible for probably the year’s most surprising decision, ruling that isolated genetic material is not patentable in the Myriad case in October.

B: Broccoli II (G2/13) and Tomatoes II (G2/12) were important decisions on plant patents from the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal in March. Read our analysis of the cases.

C: Chen Jinchuan, vice-president of the new IP Court in Beijing, gave us an interview to mark the Court’s opening at the beginning of this year.

EU flag

D: The EU Digital Single Market initiative gathered pace and attention, and led to an announcement regarding copyright reform this month. Read all our coverage at

E: The EPO has seen continuing industrial unrest during the year, as the management and staff differ over proposed reforms and the status of the Boards of Appeal. Proposed solutions have even included suggestions to revise the EPC.

F: Two important FRAND decisions this year were the Huawei v ZTE ruling from the CJEU and the Motorola v Microsoft opinion from the Ninth Circuit. We analysed both in an article published in August.

Gucci GG logo

G: The latest decision in the Guess v Gucci trade mark battle saw a victory for Guess in France in February.

H: The Hague System for protecting industrial designs received a boost as both the US and Japan joined it in February. Designs have become of greater interest this year with the unveiling of WIPO’s Global Design Database and OHIM’s launch of DesignClass, and there is a consultation on changes to the design regime in Europe.

I: Induced infringement was addressed in one of the year’s most-watched patent decisions: Commil USA v Cisco Systems from the US Supreme Court in May. Our analysis was published in July.

Jeremy Phillips

J: Jeremy Phillips, founder of Managing IP, retired. We profiled him in November. K: Kyle Bass launched a string of cases attacking biotech and pharmaceutical patents using the new inter partes review (IPR) system in the US. We interviewed him in June. Read all our PTAB coverage at

L: The adoption of the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement in May was the year’s biggest international legislative initiative, extending protection for geographical indications and enabling intergovernmental organisations to join the Agreement.

Michelle Lee

M: Michelle Lee was confirmed as USPTO Director in March. Our interview with her was published in July. N: In April, Japan extended the range of non-traditional trade marks that can be registered. However, the difficulty of establishing the scope of protection for non-traditional marks was highlighted by the CJEU opinion in the Kit Kat case in September.

O: OAPI joined the Madrid Protocol, adding 17 countries to the international trade mark system with effect from March 5. But practitioners raised questions about the wisdom of designating OAPI given uncertainty about its implementation.

P: Internet radio services Pandora and Sirius were targeted by rock group The Turtles in a case concerning rights to pre-1972 sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board is due to set a rate in the Pandora case this week.

Q: Questions addressed by the AIPPI delegates meeting in Rio de Janeiro in October spanned inventorship, free riding, copyright exceptions and trade secrets enforcement.

US Supreme Court

R: Rihanna won her appeal over the use of her image by TopShop at the UK’s Court of Appeal in January. S: Section 101 continued to vex US patent practitioners, with a string of cases since the Supreme Court’s Alice opinion failing to provide clarity on the scope of patent eligibility. In November 29 associations suggested changes to USPTO examiner guidance. All our coverage is at

T: The Trans-Pacific Partnership was agreed between 12 nations. If implemented, it will have an impact on IP rights including pharmaceutical protection, copyright term, geographical indications and trade marks. We looked at each participating country in an article published this month.

U: Progress proceeded steadily on the Unitary Patent and UPC, with implementation now expected in 2017. Read all our coverage at


V: Volkswagen was one of the car manufacturers active in filing requests at the PTAB in the US, a sign of increasing litigation over automotive patents, including from patent trolls.

W: The Washington Redskins trade mark was held to be disparaging in July, in one of two US cases this year pitting trade mark rights against free speech (the other involved rock band The Slants). However, arguably the most important US trade mark case this year was the Supreme Court’s decision in B&B Hardware v Hargis Industries – see our article on that.

X: In an interview published in August following IP Week @ SG, Tong Xin of ZTEdiscussed licensing, standards and China’s Patent Law.

Let's Go Crazy!

Y: A baby dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on YouTube was the subject of Stephanie Lenz v Universal, a decision from the Ninth Circuit in September concerning copyright, fair use and the DMCA. Z: Games maker Zynga was the focus of one or our corporate profiles, published in April this year.

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We wish all our readers throughout the world a happy festive season and a successful 2016!

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