DSM, patent box, WIPO and EPO: European news roundup
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DSM, patent box, WIPO and EPO: European news roundup

EU Commission’s Digital Single Market not intended to weaken copyright; UK’s consultation on patent box reform; Ireland’s patent box tax rate announced; Turkey acquires access to Saab 9-3’s technology; Moldova to become an EPO validation state; WIPO’s 2016/17 budget and program approved; latest PCT-EPO guidelines published; and EPO sign MOU with IP Australia and USPTO were in the IP headlines in Europe

DSM not intended to weaken copyright, says Oettinger

Gunther Oettinger
Some stakeholders have raised concerns (see our article here) over the European Commission’s Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, one of which is that it will lead to a “weaker copyright” protection regime in Europe. At the Frankfurt Book Fair last week the European Commissioner Günther Oettinger said this is not the Commission’s intention; rather the aim is to ensure copyright rules are fit for the digital age. “The creation of a Digital Single Market does not mean that the European Commission is aiming at weakening copyright,” the Commissioner said.

He further explained that the Commission’s use of the term ‘copyright modernisation’ (or ‘modifying copyright’, depending on the text you read) recognises the need to incentivise rights holders to invest in and/or create copyright-protected works and the partial harmonisation of copyright rules in Europe, but emphasised that the reforms will be targeted and based on certain key principles.

“We do not want to overhaul the complete system. We want clear, fair and reliable conditions for right owners and for users,” he said. Oettinger also said that proposals for reform will be presented by early 2016. You can read the Commissioner’s speech in full here.

Consultation on UK patent box reform now underway

HMRC logo

The UK HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and HM Treasury launched a public consultation on the reform of the UK’s patent box regime. This swift action comes after G20 Finance Ministers endorsed the OECD’s recommendations on tackling corporate tax loopholes, one of which is said to include preferential tax regimes for IP.

HMRC and HM Treasury would particularly like to hear from companies, especially patent owners (and their representatives), with an interest in the UK patent box. The consultation will close on December 4 2015. Draft legislation is expected this December.

Ireland’s own patent box going for 6.25%

Our sister publication International Tax Review reports that Ireland is also working on its own preferential tax regime for IP so as to comply with the OECD’s recommendations. The Irish government will introduce a regime called the ‘Knowledge Development Box’ (KDB). According to the Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan the KDB tax rate will be 6.25%, which is half its corporate tax rate. For more details on the KDB see here.

Turkish ‘national car’ to be powered by Saab

The Turkish government’s ambition to have a national car is close to becoming a reality. We understand an agreement has been reached between TÜBİTAK (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), owner of Saab, to develop and build the Saab 9-3 saloon model in Turkey.

The terms of the agreement are unclear, though Turkey’s Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık was reported to have said: “We bought the Saab 9-3’s intellectual property rights, but not its name.” NEVS’ press release (using the term ‘industrial partner’), however, makes one think this may well be a joint venture with an IP licensing agreement. Anyway, the eventual car will have a Turkish brand name. A Saab fan site is also trying to make sense of the IP aspects of the deal.

WIPO budget approved, and external offices in Africa likely

WIPO GA 2015

Member states of WIPO have approved the Office’s programme and budget for 2016/17. WIPO’s projected expenditure over this two-year period is Sfr707 million ($740m), a 5% increase over the last biennium, and its income is also expected to increase to Sfr756.3 million.

The US is a vocal opponent of the new Geneva Act, and a few months ago threatened not to approve the budget. It does not want to see funds from other WIPO treaties used to finance the Lisbon System. Member states have now agreed that the Lisbon System must be financially sustainable, and will work towards clearing its deficit in 2016/17. Other developments include amendments to the PCT Regulations and Common Regulations under the Madrid Agreement.

There was also agreement that WIPO should prioritise Africa when considering four external offices planned between 2016 and 2019. A summary of terms agreed and progress made on other issues can be found here, and webcast of the sessions are here.

Moldova to become an EPO validation state

The validation agreement between the European Patent Organisation and the Republic of Moldova will enter into force on November 1 2015. From this date European patent applications and patents can be validated in Moldova. A validation fee of €200 has been set. This development would see Moldova join Morocco as the second non-contracting state of the European Patent Convention in which European patents can be validated.

PCT-EPO guidelines will soon enter into force


The EPO has published its guidelines on search and examination as a PCT Authority. These are intended to guide examiners and formalities officers, and indeed applicants, on the practice and procedures to be followed by the EPO when it is acting as an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority. The guidelines, which will enter into force on November 1 2015,  complement the Euro-PCT guide and the WIPO International Search and Preliminary Examination guidelines, Receiving Office guidelines and the PCT Applicant’s Guide

EPO and IP Australia hit the highway

The EPO has signed a MoU  with the IP Australia which will, among other things, bring about the establishment of a patent prosecution highway (PPH) pilot programme between the two offices.

“[U]nder the PPH, applicants whose claims have been examined by the EPO or IP Australia may ask for accelerated processing of their corresponding application at the other office, while the Offices will share existing work results, speeding up the process and reducing costs for applicants,” the EPO said in its press release.

EPO and USPTO renew CPC commitment

The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) is a joint scheme initiated following an MoU in 2010 between the EPO and the USPTO. The scheme seeks to harmonise the patent classification systems of both offices in order to improve patent searching process. According to a press release by the EPO, both offices have now signed another MoU to renew their commitment to this scheme.

The EPO president, Benoît Battistelli, said: “With 19 patent offices around the world, including China and Korea, having already committed to the CPC, this joint project has been an overwhelming success since its official launch on 1 January 2013. It is a milestone in assuring a continued high quality in the patent system.” The EPO’s MOU with IP Australia will also see both offices cooperate in the CPC scheme.  

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