This week in IP: Campinos interview, EU action plan, Operation Carol
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This week in IP: Campinos interview, EU action plan, Operation Carol

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

Campinos admits long wait for AI inventorship agreement

EPO president António Campinos has said it will take “years” before IP authorities agree on whether artificial intelligence tools can be patent inventors.

In an interview with Managing IP, we asked Campinos about an AI tool – Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience – which has been named as the inventor on parallel patent applications. Several major IP jurisdictions, including the EPO, have rejected the filings.

The EPO president said there has not been much relevant legislative progress recently, before admitting: “You can imagine the years of discussion that this will take before we come to an agreement in this area.”

You can read the full interview, conducted by senior reporter Max Walters, here.   

Other Managing IP stories published this week include:

EU’s IP action plan sparks mixed feedback

The European Commission has published what it describes as an “overhaul of the IP system” that focuses strongly on the sharing of IP and boosting its uptake by small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Action Plan on Intellectual Property, published on Wednesday, November 25, comes after a draft plan published in July this year

Among the action points are pledges to improve laws surrounding supplementary protection certificates; modernise EU design protection; improve transparency and predictability in the licensing of standard essential patents; and clamp down on the importation and sale of counterfeits.

The action plan also encourages the rapid rollout of the unitary patent system and concurrent Unified Patent Court, and says there will be an industry dialogue to address the impact of new technologies (such as artificial intelligence and blockchain) on the IP system.

Observers have offered mixed feedback so far.

Birgit Clark, lead knowledge lawyer at Baker McKenzie in London, said the plan was an “absolute treasure trove full of ambitious goals” that would be worth watching out for.

In particular, she highlighted the Commission’s plans to “promote data access and sharing,” and its pledge to clarify certain key provisions of the Trade Secrets Directive and to review the Database Directive.  

However, the Together Against Counterfeiting Alliance highlighted an “apparent lack of ambition of the Commission to properly address counterfeiting through horizontal and legally binding solutions”.

Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, said: “We are proposing to overhaul our IP system to strengthen Europe’s ability to develop next-generation technologies; reflect advances in data and AI; allow companies to quickly pool their knowledge in times of crisis; and support Europe’s path towards economic recovery and the green transition.”

Amazon seeks to help ‘confused’ SMEs

Just in time for Black Friday – today, November 27 – Amazon released its latest scheme to stop the sale of counterfeit goods on its platform.

IP Accelerator, launched on Wednesday, November 25, is targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. It is an expansion of its US Accelerator programme, which was set up in 2019.

Businesses using the platform are connected to a network of European law firms with expertise in intellectual property. Participating firms obtain trademark rights for businesses or provide general IP guidance.

Amazon said it has targeted the IP Accelerator specifically at smaller business owners because larger companies are far more likely to register their IP rights.

Francois Saugier, vice president for EU seller services at Amazon, said: “We know from our conversations with small business owners that there is often confusion about why IP rights are important and how sellers can secure them.

“We have set up IP Accelerator to make the IP registration process as easy and affordable as possible for entrepreneurs in the early days of their businesses.”

At the moment, companies based in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and the UK will be eligible. 

Operation Carol in full song before Christmas

An operation named Carol is helping to keep IP infringers quiet before Christmas by targeting Facebook and Instagram traders, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group revealed on Wednesday, November 25.

The UK-based association, which is helping to coordinate the initiative with the UKIPO and others, warned consumers about fake goods appearing on social media in the busy shopping period ahead. 

Operation Carol coincides with Black Friday, the famous day of frenzied shopping after Thanksgiving in the US. It falls today, November 27[WM(1] .  

Graham Mogg, ACG intelligence coordinator, said of the recent activity: “We are very grateful to Facebook and the Intelligence Hub at the Intellectual Property Office, without whom this operation would not be possible.’’

Patents the go-to IP rights for universities, EPO says

A study published by the EPO shows that European universities and public research organisations are using European patents as the main instrument to commercially exploit their inventions.

According to the study, called Valorisation of scientific results – Patent commercialisation scoreboard: European universities and public research organisations, these institutions already protect more than a third (36%) of their inventions with patents. Of inventions in the pipeline, the institutions say they plan to protect 42% through patenting.

The study, published on Tuesday, November 24, adds that licensing is the preferred method of commercialisation (accounting for 70% of commercialisation of inventions), followed by R&D co-operation (14%). Selling patents accounted for 9%.

EPO president António Campinos said: “Europe’s universities and public research organisations are powerhouses of scientific research and are behind many breakthrough inventions. This report shows that they are using European patents to bring their new technologies out of the lab and into the market.”

The study was based on 686 interviews covering patent applications filed with the EPO between 2007 and 2018 by 241 European universities and public research organisations.

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More from across our site

We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
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