This week in IP: MF Brands interview, Apple, Cisco sue USPTO, AG copyright opinion
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This week in IP: MF Brands interview, Apple, Cisco sue USPTO, AG copyright opinion

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Managing IP rounds up the latest trademark, copyright and patent news, including some stories you might have missed

MF Brands Group IP head: overhaul accounts rules to show brand value

Managing IP interviewed Zeeger Vink, of MF Brands Group, who said accountancy rules should be updated so IP departments can better demonstrate the value of their brands and trademarks to business executives.

Vink, IP director at the Switzerland-based fashion holding company, said the value of internally developed brands should be included in a company’s balance sheet – something businesses are prevented from doing at the moment under International Accounting Standards rules.

This restriction is becoming a bigger problem as the importance of intangible assets becomes more important to companies, Vink told Managing IP.

Vink, who said bridges should be built between accounts and IP departments to help businesses overcome these challenges, said integrated IP management is an important aspect that is being implemented at MF and should happen elsewhere.

“The idea of integrated IP management refers to the idea that IP is not purely a legal function – restricted to merely filing a trademark – but has a role to play throughout a company. Instead of having IP isolated in a legal silo, the idea should be that IP is integrated throughout all operational divisions of a company,” Vink said.

Read more here.

Other Managing IP stories from the week that you might want to read include:

Patents a luxury many can’t afford: African entrepreneurs

Unwired FRAND ruling makes UK attractive for SEP holders

PTAB: tech fears stoked by rumours of sweeping rules package

Lawyers urge ‘unfriendly’ EPO to communicate venue changes

Litigants free to use copyright-protected work as evidence

Litigants should not be liable for submitting copyright-protected material in evidence to a court, an adviser to the Court of Justice of the EU has said.

However, the opinion of advocate general (AG) Gerard Hogan clarified that copyright-protected material does not enter the public domain once it is used in a case.

According to Hogan: “The electronic transmission by a litigant or a party to proceedings of copyrighted material as evidence to a court does not constitute a ‘communication to the public’ or a ‘distribution to the public’.”

However, Hogan added: “The mere fact that such evidence is considered a public document and that the public may thus, in principle, have access to the copyrighted material in question in accordance with national freedom of information or transparency rules does not entail that it enters the public domain and is free from copyright protection.”

The case, BY v CX, arose from a dispute between two private unnamed persons. It has been referred to the CJEU by the Patents and Market Court of Appeal in Sweden.

In a separate dispute, CX sent a copy of a page of text, including a photograph, from BY’s website as evidence.

BY claims to own the copyright to that photograph and asked that CX pay damages – first, for infringement of copyright, and second, for infringement of the special protection conferred on photographs by Article 49a of Sweden’s national law on copyright.

The question referred to the CJEU is whether the disclosure in national court proceedings of a work protected by copyright (in this case a photograph) amounts to a ‘communication to the public’ and/or a ‘distribution to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) and Article 4(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC, commonly known as the InfoSoc Directive.

EUIPO chief ‘meets’ European commissioner for first time

The EUIPO’s executive director Christian Archambeau has finally met the European commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, even if the discussion was held virtually.

The pair logged on to their meeting on Tuesday, September 1, with Archambeau presenting the EUIPO’s Strategic Plan 2025.

Breton became commissioner for internal market, a wide-ranging role that encompasses IP – specifically, ensuring it is coherent, competitive and fit for the digital age – in December 2019.

According to a press release, the two men discussed cooperation activities between the European Commission and the EUIPO within the framework of a memorandum of understanding signed in April 2019.

Other topics included SME support, cooperation on enforcement, and the proposed Digital Services Act.

Breton and Archambeau agreed to regularly exchange opinions in future, the press release added.

US tech firms take Iancu to court over IPR rule

Apple, Cisco, Google and Intel have sued the USPTO’s director Andrei Iancu, demanding the removal of a rule that has allegedly reduced the availability of the inter partes review.

In a complaint filed on Monday, August 31, at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the four tech firms took aim at the so-called NHK-Fintiv rule. It allows the USPTO to deny an IPR petition based on discretionary factors relating to pending parallel litigation.

The companies claimed that these factors appear nowhere in the America Invents Act, which governs the IPR, and that the process has been “dramatically reduced” and undermined as a result.

They have asked for the rule to be declared unlawful and set aside.

As the companies are frequent targets of non-practising entities, the complaint said, the plaintiffs have a “strong interest in having an efficient and accessible means for challenging weak patents that should never have issued”.

The plaintiffs are represented by WilmerHale and Perkins Coie.

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