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Join us for an exciting 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, November 28. Frosecution™ (combination of foreign filing and prosecution of patents) is a unique flat fee model that will save cost and effort while adding predictability.

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Join us for an exciting 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, November 28. Frosecution™ (combination of foreign filing and prosecution of patents) is a unique flat fee model that will save cost and effort while adding predictability.

 Watch now!

lsteinberg@dennemeyer.com Read more

This webinar provides tools for you to develop a meaningful patent annuity RFP. You will learn tips to structure your RFP to get the result you want - a quality provider at a fair price.

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This webinar provides tools for you to develop a meaningful patent annuity RFP. You will learn tips to structure your RFP to get the result you want - a quality provider at a fair price.

 Watch now!

English Patents lsteinberg@dennemeyer.com Read more

Can you really recoup up to 100% of the PCT and EP search procedures costs? Yes, you can.

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Can you really recoup up to 100% of the PCT and EP search procedures costs? Yes, you can.

 Watch now!

English Read more

Discover how you can cost effectively transfer intellectual property rights post-M&A. Ensure your companies intellectual property rights are protected.

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Discover how you can cost effectively transfer intellectual property rights post-M&A. Ensure your companies intellectual property rights are protected.

 Watch now!

lsteinberg@dennemeyer.com Read more

When looking for safe and effective means to reduce costs for obtaining patent rights in Europe, applicants should consider the following aspects:(i) a Search Report with a Written Opinion prepared by the European Patent Office (EPO) can be obtained through a Luxembourgish patent application, and (ii) The EPO partly or fully refunds its search fees if in a subsequent European Patent Application or PCT application (ISA = EPO) the priority of an earlier Luxembourgish patent application with this Search Report available is claimed.

Timing

Generally, it takes about six to nine months after filing date and completion of all formalities to receive a Search Report prepared by the EPO on behalf of the Luxembourgish Patent Office. As usual, such Search Report is accompanied by the searching examiner’s Written Opinion provided in the language of the proceedings.

To make use of the refund option, the Search Report must be available when filing a subsequent application, no later than 12 months from the underlying priority date.

Note that the Luxembourgish patent application does not necessarily need to be the priority application of the future patent family. It can of course be filed shortly after any (legally required under some national patent laws, e.g. in USA and France) national base application claiming the priority of such base application.

Considering the EPO’s time frame for preparation of the Search Report, it is necessary to file the Luxembourgish patent application as soon as possible, ideally in the first month after filing the national base application.

Formalities

There are only few formalities to be fulfilled to bring a patent application validly on file in Luxembourg. Necessary fees need to be paid and translations are to be filed, if needed.

For filing, neither a Power of Attorney nor an assignment or any notarized documents are required. As Luxembourg does not provide for a substantive examination, a patent certificate is automatically issued after about 18 months as of the filing date.

Language Regime

Most importantly, Luxembourg accepts any of the official languages of the European Patent Office (English, French and German) as drafting language of a Luxembourgish patent application, with the formal requirement that the claims shall be available in German or French.

In case the application is filed in English, for the purpose of obtaining an English language Search Report, the quality of the claim translations in German or French doesn’t matter as the Search Report is prepared in the drafting language of the application. Consequently, even a computer-based German or French translation could be filed to fulfil the formal requirement. The translated claims need to be filed at latest one month after the filing date. Obviously, it should be kept in mind that a right based on computer translated claims is not useful for litigation purposes.

Fees

Filing a Luxembourgish patent application costs 270€ in official fees. This includes an official filing fee of 20€ and an official Search fee of 250€ (as of April 2015).

If the applicant is interested only in obtaining an inexpensive EPO Search Report, Luxembourg is obviously an attractive option, keeping in mind that the European Search Fees are normally 1285€ and the International Search fees are normally 1875€ (as of April 2015).

Finally, no claim fees are applicable in Luxembourg. The EPO will search any amount of claims filed under the Luxembourg regime without additional fees.

Priority document

For subsequent filings claiming the priority of a Luxembourgish patent application a priority document is often needed. This is available free of charge and can be requested during the filing step simply by filing an additional copy of the application documents. The priority document is usually delivered in about two weeks.

Representative

For prosecuting a patent application in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a local representative needs to be appointed for applicants having their domicile or headquarters outside Europe. Dennemeyer & Associates regularly files Luxembourgish patent applications, and we are happy to provide a tailor-made offer based on your specific needs.

The Search Report

The Search Report is directed to the first invention mentioned in the claims.

In case of lack of unity, divisional applications need to be filed. Payment of additional search fees to achieve EPO Search Report(s) for the additional invention(s) is not possible.

We strongly advise applicants to file separate Luxembourgish patent applications directed to the individual inventions from the outset, in case concerns related to lack of unity.

Refunds

Given the availability of the EPO Search Report through the Luxembourgish patent application, two routes for search fee refunds exist.

For a maximum refund, both routes require the claims of the subsequent application compared to the Luxembourgish priority application to be substantially unchanged or only incorporating subject matter of a previously filed dependent claim.

According to our experience, the refund will happen in about 14 to 16 months after the priority date.

European patent applications

Upon filing a local patent application with the EPO, the priority of the Luxembourgish application needs to be claimed. The necessary official fees, including the European Search fee, have to be paid first.

Due to the availability of the EPO’s Search Report in the priority application, the EPO automatically refunds up to 84% of the European Search fee, without needing a refund request.

PCT applications

Upon filing a PCT application with the competent receiving office, the priority of the Luxembourgish application needs to be claimed. In addition, the EPO needs to be selected as International Search Authority (ISA).

The necessary official fees, including the International Search fee, have to be paid first. Due to the availability of the EPO’s Search Report in the priority application the EPO automatically refunds up to 100% of the International Search fee. No refund request is required.

Incorporation of amendments

Unless taken from dependent claims, amendments should be incorporated only into the description of the subsequent application rather than into the claims, in order to safely benefit from the maximum refund of the Search fee.

English rfichter@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

On 25 March 2015, the Enlarged Board of the European Patent Office handed down its decision in the consolidated cases G 2/12 ("Tomato II") and G 2/13 ("Broccoli II"). The decision has been eagerly awaited, see Dennemeyer’s newsletter about decision T 1729/06 ("Watermelons").

As the interested circles are certainly already well aware of, the Enlarged Board held in G 2/12 and G 3/13 that the exclusion of essentially biological processes for the production of plants under the provisions of the European Patent Convention does not preclude the grant of a patent claim directed to a plant obtained in such a process; see Catchword 1. This is also true if (i) the patent claim is drafted as a product-by-process claim and (ii) the claimed plant can only be produced in an essentially biological process; see Catchword 2.

What is however additionally interesting to note is that the Enlarged Board indirectly encourages applicants to file patent applications for plants, which are obtained in essentially biological processes, with the European Patent Office. At VIII.2(6)(d) of the Reasons, the Enlarged Board discusses national patentability exclusions of plants which are generated by an essentially biological process. Some of these national patentability exclusions are narrower than the Enlarged Board’s ruling. Accordingly, applicants who intend to obtain a patent for such plants learn that the best way of doing so is by prosecuting their patent applications at the European Patent Office.

Another lesson learned is that the Enlarged Board seems to interpret the scope of protection of a product-by-process claim in a broad manner. The Enlarged Board actually states:

“As pointed out by the referring Boards, by virtue of Article 64(2) EPC:  (a)  the protection conferred by a process claim extends to the products directly obtained by such process,  (b)  the protection conferred by a product claim comprises using as well as producing the product and  (c)  the product claimed in terms of a product-by-process claim extends to products which are structurally identical to the claimed product but which are produced by a different method.” (at VIII.2(6)(b) of the Reasons; emphasis added)

It is seen from (c) that the Enlarged Board does not limit the scope of protection of a product-by-process only to products which are obtained by the process steps described in that claim. This seems to be different to at least some national civil courts in Europe which hear patent infringement cases.

While the statement of the Enlarged Board is at best an obiter dictum and not binding for any national court, it might become relevant once the Unified Patent Court is operating in Europe. Namely, according to Article 24(1)(c) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, one source of law for procedures before that Court shall be the European Patent Convention. This source of law might well include the case law under the European Patent Convention, including the case law of the Boards of Appeal and especially of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office. As such, Tomato II and Broccoli II might become relevant in the future when product-by-process claims are litigated before the Unified Patent Court.

 

Copyright by Dr. Christian Köster

ckoester@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

Italy is certainly well-known for its cultural heritage spanning more than two thousand years. Counting 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it holds a greater number of such sites than any other country worldwide. It is therefore no wonder that today’s 21st century Italy contains multiple traits attributed to the “Bel Paese” (The Beautiful Country), in particular those related to its pleasing cuisine and modern but timeless design.

The latter, a wonderful expression of the eternal Italian creative spirit and its natural sense for beauty, has long been a subject for different types of legal protection. Dating back to 1868, the Italian legal and doctrinarian system has since undergone many, often fast and radical changes. Some of these changes are due to the fact that Italy is member of the EU.

We refer, in particular, to the respective EU Directives in rem which came into force over the last 15 years. The first and foremost point to observe here is the 180° epic conversion from the narrow old to the wider new system: before, the law basically allowed only for an alternative protection, where artistic works fell exclusively under the copyright law, industrial designs under the ornamental model law, and distinctive shapes under the trademark law.

Now, the law allows for a full cumulative protection under all the aforesaid intellectual property rights (provided, of course, that each of their single requirements is met in every specific case).

Although a digression into the vivid legislative past would definitely be worth a longer sojourn, the current observations will rather focus on the actual aspects of gaining exclusive rights on designs (understood as visible outward forms or patterns) in Italy and the European Union.

jwrede@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

As a general rule, an applicant is free to draft a patent claim in any desired claim language; the same is true for the accompanying description. However, when an invention manifests in particular parameters and the invention shall be protected by a European patent granted under the European Patent Convention, some particular issues may arise. Five of these issues are discussed in this paper. Contrary to Hamlet, we must ask not only one question in this context, but several.

Clarity: Is it usual, or is it not usual: that is the question.

Although a product may be defined in a claim in various ways, the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office (hereinafter: “the Guidelines”) state that a product should only be exceptionally defined by its parameters. In this context, parameters are considered to be characteristic values, which may be values of directly measurable properties or may be defined as more or less complicated mathematical combinations of several variables in the form of formulae.

However, according to the Guidelines, such a characterization by parameters is in principle only allowable in those cases where the invention cannot be adequately defined in any other way. Additionally, it is required that the parameters can be clearly and reliably determined either by indications in the description or by objective procedures, which are usual in the art. Given that the definition of the invention should appear completely in the claim itself whenever reasonably practicable, and given that the method of measurement is necessary for the unambiguous definition of the parameter, the method should be mentioned in the claim.

There are only three exceptions to the general rule that the method of and means for measurement of the parameter must be included in the claim, namely:

(i) The description of the method is so long that its inclusion would make the claim unclear through lack of conciseness or difficult to understand (in which case the claim should include a reference to the description);

(ii) A person skilled in the art would know which method to employ, e.g. because there is only one method, or because a particular method is commonly used; or

(iii) All known methods yield the same result (within the limits of measurement accuracy).

In all other cases the method of and means for measurement should be included in the claims, as the claims define the matter for which protection is sought.

Further, while parameters can meet the requirement of clarity, the foregoing is only true for parameters which are considered “usual” by the skilled addressee. In contrast, cases in which unusual parameters are employed or a non-accessible apparatus for measuring the parameter(s) is used are prima facie objectionable on grounds of lack of clarity, as no meaningful comparison with the prior art can be made.

 

Copyright by Dr. Christian Köster

ckoester@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

Maintenance fees, sometimes referred to as renewal fees or annuity fees, for patent rights have to be paid annually in most countries. The differences from one country to the other are the starting point of the first payment and the amount of the maintenance fees. A few countries provide reductions on fees if you are an individual or your company has a small entity status. But what can you do if you are a large entity? Basically not much – besides reducing the number of your patents.

There is, however, one legal institute that is available to any entity irrespective of its size and nature that requires at first and foremost the willingness to grant a licence on your patent right.

The owner of a patent can apply to the Intellectual Property Office to have the patent endorsed for licence of right (L.O.R.). This application by the patentee is a declaration of willingness to grant a licence to anyone. The endorsement acts as an invitation to third parties to apply for a licence. The advantage of the licence of right is that it lets other people know that licences are available and that maintenance fees are reduced by 50%.

Unfortunately, not many countries provide for licence of right. The European Patent Convention does not provide for L.O.R. – grant of a licence is governed by Art. 73 EPC but this is not our subject here.

There are approximately 20 countries which have this option. Among them are some important patent filing jurisdictions:

  • Germany (Licence of right is called Lizenzbereitschaft and is governed by §23 Patentgesetz);
  • Italy (Licenza di diritto, Art. 80 Decreto Legislativo of 10th February 2005 no. 30);
  • Spain (Licencia de pleno derecho, Art. 81 Ley 11/86 de 20th March 1986);
  • United Kingdom (Licence of right, Art. 46 Patents Act 1977).
  • France is no longer among the countries. Art L 613-10 governing L.O.R. was abolished by Law no. 2005-842 of 26 July 2005.

Since provisions of L.O.R. have minor differences from country to country, the following paragraph deals exemplarily with the German Law. The declaration that licences under the patent are to be available as of right is effective upon receipt by the German Patent & Trademark Office (DPMA). It can be filed at any time after grant of the patent or while the patent application is pending. That means that the patentee must grant a licence to anyone who wants one. The endorsement is registered and published. As long as an exclusive licence is registered under the patent the declaration is not possible.

As mentioned there are differences, the United Kingdom for example requires that the patent is granted.

Renewal fees falling due after the L.O.R. is filed are reduced by 50%. The United Kingdom IPO recommends on their website to file a L.O.R. at least ten days before the annuity falls due.

Other countries – besides the above four - who grant a fee reduction for L.O.R. are Belarus, Brazil, Czech Republic, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russian Federation, Slovakia.

The German Patent & Trademark Office as well as the United Kingdom IPO provide on their website access to a database containing information on patents that are available for a licence.

As the patentee can apply for its entry, he/she can also apply for cancellation of a Licence of Right. A L.O.R. will be cancelled if there are no existing licences and the renewal fees have been balanced. The United Kingdom requires additionally that any opposition to the cancellation has been dealt with.

English cklamp@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

This paper deals with preliminary injunctions (PIs) based on patents with a view towards European procedures. Also discussed are precautionary measures that a potential defendant in PI proceedings may take in order to avoid an injunction.

Background of preliminary injunctions

A patent proprietor who identifies an act infringing one or more of his patents, may have an interest that the infringement is stopped immediately. Such a patent proprietor will therefore seek immediate injunctive relief. The injunctive relief may be permanent, but permanent injunctive relief is typically only granted after lengthy court proceedings on the merits of a case. In contrast, courts may, upon application by the patent proprietor, order injunctive relief in the form of a provisional measure. In the European Union, provisional measures are mandatorily available in all member states.

Provisional measures are regularly granted in preliminary injunction procedures. There are two procedural possibilities, i.e. either the defendant is heard by the court before a decision on the application for a PI is taken (inter partes procedure), or, in case any delay would cause irreparable harm to the patent proprietor, the PI may even be granted without hearing the defendant (ex parte procedure).

Naturally, when a defendant is injuncted and has to stop the act in question immediately, this may constitute a significant threat to his business. From the defendant’s perspective, all reasonable steps against preliminary injunctions should be taken, and should be taken in due course. Some recommendations are given below.

 

Copyright by Dr. Christian Köster

ckoester@dennemeyer-law.com Read more

What does future of trademarks hold in 5, 10, even 15 years? Join Devon Sparrow from Citrix and Michael Graham from Expedia as they discuss key trends in the trademark arena.

Watch now!

What does future of trademarks hold in 5, 10, even 15 years? Join Devon Sparrow from Citrix and Michael Graham from Expedia as they discuss key trends in the trademark arena.

Watch now!

English Trademarks clevitt@dennemeyer.com Read more

Space, the final frontier! Well, not anymore, because thanks to a group of six 9th grade students from Brasov, Romania, we will be able to survive in space. Not very soon, but give them some time and they will make it possible.

This year’s NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest for space colonization has seen a great deal of incredible projects. 6000 kids ranging from 7th to 12th grade have battled for a place on the prestigious NASA podium, but only a few made it.

Heosphoros, the Romanian team, has placed on the 1st place for kids in the 9th grade, winning with their space station located in the Lagrangian point L4. The six 9 graders are all from Andrei Saguna National College, and are coordinated by their Physics teacher, Mrs. Carmen Tanasescu. The kids are: Alexandra Băitanu, Diana Maria Chichernea, Elena Isaia, Iulia Kis, Alexandru Matei Rădulescu and Mihai Alexandru Bîscă.

But it’s a long way from Romania to the United States, where the children are supposed to give a presentation to the world most prestigious minds, meet Nobel prize winners and accept their award. That is why Dennemeyer has decided to support their project and sponsor their trip and presentation to St Louis, Missouri.

Space, the final frontier! Well, not anymore, because thanks to a group of six 9th grade students from Brasov, Romania, we will be able to survive in space. Not very soon, but give them some time and they will make it possible.

This year’s NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest for space colonization has seen a great deal of incredible projects. 6000 kids ranging from 7th to 12th grade have battled for a place on the prestigious NASA podium, but only a few made it.

Heosphoros, the Romanian team, has placed on the 1st place for kids in the 9th grade, winning with their space station located in the Lagrangian point L4. The six 9 graders are all from Andrei Saguna National College, and are coordinated by their Physics teacher, Mrs. Carmen Tanasescu. The kids are: Alexandra Băitanu, Diana Maria Chichernea, Elena Isaia, Iulia Kis, Alexandru Matei Rădulescu and Mihai Alexandru Bîscă.

But it’s a long way from Romania to the United States, where the children are supposed to give a presentation to the world most prestigious minds, meet Nobel prize winners and accept their award. That is why Dennemeyer has decided to support their project and sponsor their trip and presentation to St Louis, Missouri.

English Read more

Dennemeyer & Associates a créé un groupe de juristes spécialisés appelé « Dennemeyer Africa » pour assister ses clients en Afrique subsaharienne. Le Dr Fichter, directeur du cabinet de conseils en brevets Dennemeyer & Associates S.A, basé au Luxembourg, déclare : « la demande croissante de nos clients pour des solutions de gestion ou des services juridiques en PI pour l’Afrique du Sud et l’Afrique subsaharienne nous a incités à créer un groupe de personnes dédié à ce marché promis à une croissance importante. »

Christophe van Zyl, juriste en Afrique du Sud, spécialiste et conseil pour les marques, dirige ce groupe juridique de Dennemeyer pour l’Afrique et déclare : « Le groupe a été créé tout d’abord pour assister nos clients internationaux pour leurs questions en matière de PI en Afrique subsaharienne et en Afrique du Sud, avec une approche plus focalisée, du fait d’une demande plus importante pour une expertise locale. De même, Dennemeyer a identifié le continent africain comme une région où les clients reconsidèrent leur niveau de protection en matière de PI afin d’anticiper la croissance sur cette zone. »

Dennemeyer Africa est en mesure de proposer sur tout le continent un ensemble complet de services juridiques et de gestion se rapportant à la PI, ainsi que des solutions logicielles. La gamme de services comprend des conseils juridiques sur les marques en Afrique et en Afrique du Sud, les recherches brevets ou marques, la rédaction, les dépôts, poursuites, inscriptions, annuités et renouvellements, litiges, cession de PI, conseils sur l’étiquetage et l’emballage pharmaceutiques ainsi que la gestion de portefeuilles de PI.

M. Van Zyl est basé en Europe afin de faciliter les rencontres directes et est disponible pour se rendre chez les clients ou les rencontrer dans l’un de nos bureaux au Luxembourg, à Francfort ou à Munich. Le groupe juridique est soutenu par l’expertise mondiale de Dennemeyer et inclut Vanja Nedimovic, conseil en marques et modèles (BX/CE), mandataire agréé auprès de l’OHMI, Thomas Lederer, conseil en brevet (DE/AT), Martin Chatel, Responsable Produits et Qualité,  mandataire agréé de l’OEB et de l’OHMI et spécialiste des dépôts étrangers et Jan Wrede, juriste (DE/IT), basé à Dubaï.

Pour plus d’informations sur le nouveau groupe juridique veuillez contacter Christophe van Zyl.

Dennemeyer & Associates a créé un groupe de juristes spécialisés appelé « Dennemeyer Africa » pour assister ses clients en Afrique subsaharienne. Le Dr Fichter, directeur du cabinet de conseils en brevets Dennemeyer & Associates S.A, basé au Luxembourg, déclare : « la demande croissante de nos clients pour des solutions de gestion ou des services juridiques en PI pour l’Afrique du Sud et l’Afrique subsaharienne nous a incités à créer un groupe de personnes dédié à ce marché promis à une croissance importante. »

Christophe van Zyl, juriste en Afrique du Sud, spécialiste et conseil pour les marques, dirige ce groupe juridique de Dennemeyer pour l’Afrique et déclare : « Le groupe a été créé tout d’abord pour assister nos clients internationaux pour leurs questions en matière de PI en Afrique subsaharienne et en Afrique du Sud, avec une approche plus focalisée, du fait d’une demande plus importante pour une expertise locale. De même, Dennemeyer a identifié le continent africain comme une région où les clients reconsidèrent leur niveau de protection en matière de PI afin d’anticiper la croissance sur cette zone. »

Dennemeyer Africa est en mesure de proposer sur tout le continent un ensemble complet de services juridiques et de gestion se rapportant à la PI, ainsi que des solutions logicielles. La gamme de services comprend des conseils juridiques sur les marques en Afrique et en Afrique du Sud, les recherches brevets ou marques, la rédaction, les dépôts, poursuites, inscriptions, annuités et renouvellements, litiges, cession de PI, conseils sur l’étiquetage et l’emballage pharmaceutiques ainsi que la gestion de portefeuilles de PI.

M. Van Zyl est basé en Europe afin de faciliter les rencontres directes et est disponible pour se rendre chez les clients ou les rencontrer dans l’un de nos bureaux au Luxembourg, à Francfort ou à Munich. Le groupe juridique est soutenu par l’expertise mondiale de Dennemeyer et inclut Vanja Nedimovic, conseil en marques et modèles (BX/CE), mandataire agréé auprès de l’OHMI, Thomas Lederer, conseil en brevet (DE/AT), Martin Chatel, Responsable Produits et Qualité,  mandataire agréé de l’OEB et de l’OHMI et spécialiste des dépôts étrangers et Jan Wrede, juriste (DE/IT), basé à Dubaï.

Pour plus d’informations sur le nouveau groupe juridique veuillez contacter Christophe van Zyl.

French Read more

Dennemeyer & Associates has created a specialist practice group to assist clients in sub-saharan Africa, called “Dennemeyer Africa”. Dr. Fichter, Director of Luxembourg-based patent law firm Dennemeyer & Associates S.A., states: “Due to the increasing demand from clients who require IP management or legal services in sub-saharan Africa and South Africa, it was necessary for us to offer a group of people who focus on that promising growth market.”

Christophe van Zyl, South African Attorney and Trademark Practitioner and of Counsel head of Dennemeyer’s Africa practice group, adds: “The practice group has been created firstly to assist international clients with all their IP business in sub-saharan Africa and South Africa with a more focused approach due to increasing demands from clients for more focused expertise in the region. Secondly because Dennemeyer has identified the continent as a region where clients are reconsidering their level of protection in IP to plan for anticipated economic growth.”

Dennemeyer Africa is capable of offering a whole bundle of IP related legal and management services as well as software solutions covering the entire continent. The range of services includes legal advice on branding in Africa and South Africa, patent and trademark searching, drafting, filing, prosecution, recordals, annuities and renewals, litigation, commercial IP, advice on pharmaceuticals labeling and packaging as well as IP portfolio management.

Van Zyl is based in Europe for the sake of providing easy face to face contact and is available to travel to our clients or meet them at any of our offices in Luxembourg, Frankfurt or Munich. The practice group is backed up by Dennemeyer’s existing global expertise and will include Trademark and Design Attorney (BX / EM) Vanja Nedimovic, Patent Attorney (DE / AT), foreign filing expert Thomas Lederer, Product and Quality Manager Martin Chatel and Dubai-based attorney-at-law Jan Wrede (DE / IT).

For further information about the new practice group please contact Christophe van Zyl.

Dennemeyer & Associates has created a specialist practice group to assist clients in sub-saharan Africa, called “Dennemeyer Africa”. Dr. Fichter, Director of Luxembourg-based patent law firm Dennemeyer & Associates S.A., states: “Due to the increasing demand from clients who require IP management or legal services in sub-saharan Africa and South Africa, it was necessary for us to offer a group of people who focus on that promising growth market.”

Christophe van Zyl, South African Attorney and Trademark Practitioner and of Counsel head of Dennemeyer’s Africa practice group, adds: “The practice group has been created firstly to assist international clients with all their IP business in sub-saharan Africa and South Africa with a more focused approach due to increasing demands from clients for more focused expertise in the region. Secondly because Dennemeyer has identified the continent as a region where clients are reconsidering their level of protection in IP to plan for anticipated economic growth.”

Dennemeyer Africa is capable of offering a whole bundle of IP related legal and management services as well as software solutions covering the entire continent. The range of services includes legal advice on branding in Africa and South Africa, patent and trademark searching, drafting, filing, prosecution, recordals, annuities and renewals, litigation, commercial IP, advice on pharmaceuticals labeling and packaging as well as IP portfolio management.

Van Zyl is based in Europe for the sake of providing easy face to face contact and is available to travel to our clients or meet them at any of our offices in Luxembourg, Frankfurt or Munich. The practice group is backed up by Dennemeyer’s existing global expertise and will include Trademark and Design Attorney (BX / EM) Vanja Nedimovic, Patent Attorney (DE / AT), foreign filing expert Thomas Lederer, Product and Quality Manager Martin Chatel and Dubai-based attorney-at-law Jan Wrede (DE / IT).

For further information about the new practice group please contact Christophe van Zyl.

English Read more

The field mouse inhabits a wide range of habitats including grasslands and marshes, pastures and gardens, and urban areas. As a consequence of a decision of the Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court of Germany) from September 2016 with the keyword "field mouse bait station" it has also found its way to the Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme Court).

From the start: Bundespatentgericht recently confirmed the rejection of a utility model application to protect a method of catching mice with a bait station due to the fact that methods are not protectable as utility models under German Law . The German branch of Luxembourg based patent law firm Dennemeyer & Associates S.A. had brought the appeal asking if § 2 Nr. 3 GebrMG (the statutory provision that forbids the protection of methods as a utility model) is compatible with constitutional and basic Human Rights Protection both at national and European level.

Utility models consist of an exclusive right granted for an invention that is similar to a patent right, but its main purpose is to achieve a faster registration than that of a patent by replacing examination and grant by simple registration. In return, its lifespan is shortened. Not all countries offer this type of protection and their scope differs widely.

Patent Attorney Dr. Malte Köllner, head of Dennemeyer & Associates’ office in Frankfurt am Main, had claimed that “utility models started as a protection for tools and machines, they later included protection even for substances and pharmaceuticals and their use as treatments in diseases. From a historical point of view, the protection of utility models developed as a right parallel to the protection of patents.” He further mentioned that “methods are still not included within the protection of utility models mainly due to the lack of drawings in such applications”.

So Köllner raises the question if “the inclusion of mandatory drawings couldn’t be sufficient to allow the registration of methods as utility models in Germany?” The main issue surrounding this subject are the different requirements for device utility models and method utility models and the question whether this differentiation might clash with fundamental rights.

The question is now pending before the Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme Court). Köllner states: “I want to encourage everybody to register methods as utility models in combination with an request for suspension until this issue is finally decided by the Bundesgerichtshof or the Federal Constitutional Court.”

Dr. Fichter, Director of Dennemeyer & Associates S.A., adds: “Even if the case may at first glance seem funny given the fact that a small animal like the filed mouse is involved, it has the potential to change German IP history - if the Bundesgerichtshof should decide that methods must be treated and protected like other Intellectual Property Rights such as patents.”

In that case the field mouse would have found a new habitat: the history books of German IP law.

For further information please contact: mkoellner(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com

The field mouse inhabits a wide range of habitats including grasslands and marshes, pastures and gardens, and urban areas. As a consequence of a decision of the Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court of Germany) from September 2016 with the keyword "field mouse bait station" it has also found its way to the Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme Court).

From the start: Bundespatentgericht recently confirmed the rejection of a utility model application to protect a method of catching mice with a bait station due to the fact that methods are not protectable as utility models under German Law . The German branch of Luxembourg based patent law firm Dennemeyer & Associates S.A. had brought the appeal asking if § 2 Nr. 3 GebrMG (the statutory provision that forbids the protection of methods as a utility model) is compatible with constitutional and basic Human Rights Protection both at national and European level.

Utility models consist of an exclusive right granted for an invention that is similar to a patent right, but its main purpose is to achieve a faster registration than that of a patent by replacing examination and grant by simple registration. In return, its lifespan is shortened. Not all countries offer this type of protection and their scope differs widely.

Patent Attorney Dr. Malte Köllner, head of Dennemeyer & Associates’ office in Frankfurt am Main, had claimed that “utility models started as a protection for tools and machines, they later included protection even for substances and pharmaceuticals and their use as treatments in diseases. From a historical point of view, the protection of utility models developed as a right parallel to the protection of patents.” He further mentioned that “methods are still not included within the protection of utility models mainly due to the lack of drawings in such applications”.

So Köllner raises the question if “the inclusion of mandatory drawings couldn’t be sufficient to allow the registration of methods as utility models in Germany?” The main issue surrounding this subject are the different requirements for device utility models and method utility models and the question whether this differentiation might clash with fundamental rights.

The question is now pending before the Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme Court). Köllner states: “I want to encourage everybody to register methods as utility models in combination with an request for suspension until this issue is finally decided by the Bundesgerichtshof or the Federal Constitutional Court.”

Dr. Fichter, Director of Dennemeyer & Associates S.A., adds: “Even if the case may at first glance seem funny given the fact that a small animal like the filed mouse is involved, it has the potential to change German IP history - if the Bundesgerichtshof should decide that methods must be treated and protected like other Intellectual Property Rights such as patents.”

In that case the field mouse would have found a new habitat: the history books of German IP law.

For further information please contact: mkoellner(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com

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Das japanische Patentamt hat vor Kurzem seine Regeln zur Wiederherstellung geistiger Eigentumsrechte überarbeitet. Kazuya Sekiguchi.

In der Vergangenheit war es recht schwierig, geistige Eigentumsrechte in Japan wiederherzustellen. Es gab nahezu keinen Fall, in dem eine Wiederherstellung zugelassen wurde, wenn die ursprüngliche Terminfrist versäumt worden war. Um sich jedoch der internationalen Auslegung anzugleichen, hat das japanische Patentamt (JPA) vor Kurzem seine Regeln in Bezug auf die Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte überarbeitet und die Anforderungen geändert, um die Konditionen für Antragsteller und Eigentümer zu verbessern. Allerdings ist immer noch nicht ganz klar, ob es dadurch tatsächlich leichter geworden ist, erloschene geistige Eigentumsrechte wiederherzustellen oder nicht.

Der folgende Artikel untersucht die neuen Anforderungen an die Wiederherstellung geistiger Eigentumsrechte in Japan und die Richtlinien zur Wiederherstellung, die das JPA veröffentlicht hat.

Den überarbeiteten Vorschriften zur Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte nach zu urteilen kann ein Versäumnis, die Terminfristen für folgende Verfahren einzuhalten, in folgenden Fällen abgewendet werden:

  • Einreichen einer Übersetzung für einen Antrag in einer Fremdsprache (Artikel 36(2) des Patentrechts)
  • Einreichen einer Anfrage für eine Prüfung (Artikel 48(3) des Patentrechts)
  • Zahlung der Patentgebühren (mit Zuschlägen) (Artikel 112(2) des Patentrechts, Artikel 33(2) des Gebrauchsmusterrechts und Artikel 44(2) des Designrechts)
  • Einreichung einer Übersetzung für die PCT-Nationalisierung (Artikel 184(4) des Patentrechts)
  • Anfrage auf eine Erneuerung eines Markenzeichens (Artikel 21 des Markenrechts)
  • Inanspruchnahme der Priorität basierend auf der Pariser Verbandsübereinkunft (Artikel 43(2) des Patentrechts)

Die Anforderungen für eine Wiederherstellung lauten:

  • Es muss einen berechtigten Grund für das Versäumnis, die Terminauflagen einzuhalten, geben, obwohl der Antragsteller alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen hierfür ergriffen hat, und:
  • bezüglich der ersten fünf Vorgänge, die obenstehend aufgeführt wurden, muss der Antrag zur Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte innerhalb von zwei Monaten ab dem Datum eingereicht werden, an dem der berechtigte Grund für solch ein Versäumnis wegfällt, solange dies innerhalb von einem Jahr nach Ablauf dieser Frist erfolgt (innerhalb von sechs Monaten falls eine Erneuerung eines Markenzeichens beantragt wird, o.g. 5. Punkt).
  • In Bezug auf den 6. Punkt (Antrag auf Priorität basierend auf der Pariser Verbandsübereinkunft), muss der Antrag innerhalb von zwei Monaten nach Ablauf der Prioritätsfrist (z. B. innerhalb von 14 Monaten ab dem Prioritätsdatum) eingereicht werden.

Wie oben erwähnt, muss es einen berechtigten Grund für die Nicht-Einhaltung der Terminfrist geben, damit die erloschenen geistigen Eigentumsrechte wiederhergestellt werden können. Laut JPA lehnt sich die Definition für „berechtigte Gründe“ an die Sorgfaltskriterien („due care“) des Europäischen Patentamts (EPA) an. In seinen Richtlinien zur Wiederherstellung schildert das JPA auch konkrete Beispiele, in denen eine Wiederherstellung akzeptiert, bzw. abgelehnt wurde.

Ob der Grund für ein Versäumnis solch einer Terminfrist berechtigt ist oder nicht, hängt davon ab, ob der Grund vorhersehbar war. Wenn der Grund vorhersehbar war, dann ist der Grund für ein Versäumnis nicht berechtigt. Das heißt, ein erloschenes, geistiges Eigentumsrecht kann nicht wiederhergestellt werden, wenn der Grund für das Versäumnis der Terminfrist vorhersehbar war. Dazu zitieren die Richtlinien folgende Beispiele: „Die Abwesenheit eines gesetzlichen Vertreters auf Grund eines geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalts“; „Der Abriss eines alten Firmengebäudes verbunden mit dem Bau eines neuen Büros“; „Die Abwesenheit eines Nachfolgers auf Grund der Pensionierung des Vorgängers“ und „Das nicht-in-der-Lage-sein, Anträge zu bearbeiten, auf Grund von geplanten Stromausfällen“. All diese Fälle werden als „vorhersehbar“ betrachtet und eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte aus einem dieser Gründe daher nicht zugelassen.

Hinsichtlich des Versäumnisgrundes „Die Abwesenheit eines gesetzlichen Vertreters auf Grund eines geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalts“ scheint das JPA es gemäß diesen Richtlinien als „geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalt“ zu betrachten, wenn die entsprechende Person ihre Abwesenheit jemandem im Voraus hätte mitteilen können. Das bedeutet, dass diese nur dann als „unvorhersehbar“ betrachtet wird, wenn die Person (oder der gesetzliche Vertreter) überraschend ins Krankenhaus eingewiesen wird und nicht mehr die Möglichkeit hatte, seine Abwesenheit irgendeiner anderen Person mitzuteilen. Andererseits gab es jedoch einen Fall bei der Beschwerdekammer des EPA, in dem das EPA die Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen hat, als der gesetzliche Vertreter des Antragstellers selbst plötzlich erkrankte und innerhalb von zwei Tagen operiert werden musste. Seine Sekretärin war ebenfalls abwesend an diesen beiden Arbeitstagen (T525/91). In diesem Fall, hätte der gesetzliche Vertreter zwar theoretisch zwei Tage Zeit gehabt, seine Abwesenheit dem Antragsteller mitzuteilen, das EPA hatte jedoch die Wiederherstellung der Rechte unter diesen Umständen zugelassen. Im Gegensatz hierzu wird das JPA keine Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte in der gleichen Situation wie T525/91 zulassen, weil der gesetzliche Vertreter andere über seine Abwesenheit vor seinem Krankenhausaufenthalt hätte informieren können.

Falls der Grund für das Versäumen einer Terminfrist unvorhersehbar ist, können die erloschenen geistigen Eigentumsrechte in den einigen Fällen wiederhergestellt werden, wenn der Antragsteller/Eigentümer/gesetzliche Vertreter alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen ergriffen hat, um irgendwelche Fehler zu vermeiden. Die Richtlinien erläutern, in welchen Fällen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen wird oder nicht:

Fälle, in denen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht zugelassen wird:

  • Eine falsche Terminfrist wurde vermerkt auf Grund falsch eingegebener Daten, wobei keine geeigneten Maßnahmen ergriffen wurden (wie etwa die Überprüfung dieser Daten), um einen solchen Fehler zu vermeiden.
  • Die Anweisungen wurden nicht an den Empfänger geleitet auf Grund eines Fehlers bei der E-Mail- oder Fax-Übertragung, wobei der Absender den Empfang durch den Empfänger nicht bestätigt hat.
  • Die Person, die es versäumt hat, die Terminfrist einzuhalten, war nicht mit dem Terminfrist-Management-System vertraut.

Fälle, in denen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen wird:

  • Es kam zu einer speziellen Situation, die es unmöglich machte zu verhindern, dass eine falsche Terminfrist vermerkt wurde, auf Grund falsch eingegebener Daten, obwohl wesentliche Maßnahmen ergriffen wurden, um einen solchen Fehler zu verhindern.
  • Es kam zu einer speziellen Situation, die es unmöglich machte, zu verhindern, dass eine falsche Terminfrist vermerkt wurde, weil ein unvorhersehbarer Systemfehler auftrat.
  • Die Terminfrist wurde bedingt durch eine Naturkatastrophe versäumt.

Wie oben erwähnt, kann die Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht genehmigt werden, wenn die falschen Daten eingetragen und keine wesentlichen Maßnahmen diesbezüglich ergriffen worden sind. Das bedeutet, dass - wenn die Terminfrist auf Grund menschlichen Versagens, wie etwa durch die falsche Eingabe von Daten - versäumt wurde, ohne dass wesentliche Maßnahmen diesbezüglich ergriffen wurden, wie beispielsweise eine Überprüfung dieser Daten - es unmöglich wäre, die geistigen Eigentumsrechte wiederherzustellen. Dieses Kriterium ist ähnlich dem des EPA, wonach die Wiederherstellung von Rechten nicht zugelassen werden kann, wenn keine Gegenprüfung (wesentliche Maßnahmen wurden ergriffen, um etwaige Fehler zu vermeiden) vorgenommen wurde (als Beispiel siehe: J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 und T 1962/08).

Im europäischen Recht kann jedoch eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen werden, wenn es sich um nur einen einzelnen Fehler in einem ansonsten zufriedenstellenden System handelt (z. B. T1024/02, T165/04 und T221/04) und wenn plausibel nachgewiesen werden kann, dass ein normalerweise wirkungsvolles System zur Überwachung der Terminfristen zum entsprechenden Zeitpunkt eingerichtet wurde (J2/86 und J3/86).

Im Gegensatz hierzu scheint es in Japan so zu sein, dass ein einzelner Fehler in einem normalerweise zufriedenstellenden System keinen Anlass für eine Wiederherstellung bietet, weil es gemäß diesen Richtlinien erforderlich ist, dass es eine spezifische Situation unmöglich gemacht hat, einen solchen Fehler zu vermeiden.

In Bezug auf eine spezifische Situation, die es unmöglich macht, solch einen Fehler zu vermeiden, nennen die Richtlinien als Beispiel eine Situation, wie etwa: „Der Antragsteller/Eigentümer oder der gesetzliche Vertreter ist ein Kleinunternehmen, wie z.B. ein Familienunternehmen und die Person, die für die geistigen Eigentumsrechte zuständig ist, ist plötzlich verstorben. In der Verwirrung solch einer Situation könnte die neu ernannte Person, die nun mit den geistigen Eigentumsrechten betraut wurde, versehentlich die Unterlagen an die verkehrte Adresse geschickt und die Terminfrist somit verpasst haben.“ Das Beispiel dieser spezifischen Situation, die hier in den Richtlinien genannt wird, ist so speziell, dass die Hürde für einen Antrag zur Wiederherstellung der Rechte in Japan nach wie vor sehr hoch scheint.

Abschließend steht in den Richtlinien, dass der Antragsteller/Eigentümer/gesetzliche Vertreter ebenfalls alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen ergreifen muss, wenn er erkennen sollte, dass es einen Fall gibt, der ihn an der Einhaltung dieser Terminfristen hindert. Wenn also zum Beispiel eine verantwortliche Person plötzlich krank und bettlägerig und dadurch für eine Weile arbeitsunfähig wird, (der rote Zeitraum auf Abbildung 1) und sein Kollege über die Fakten dieses Falles informiert sein könnte, dann müsste sich dessen Kollege somit auch über die Risiken einer verpassten Terminfrist bewusst sein. In diesem Fall kann die Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht zugelassen werden, außer der Kollege hätte dementsprechend versucht, ein Versäumnis dieser Terminfrist zu verhindern, selbst wenn die anderen Anforderungen eingehalten wurden (die notwendigen Maßnahmen wurden im Voraus getroffen und der Antrag zur Wiederherstellung wurde im angemessenen Zeitraum eingereicht).

Debatte

Das JPA erklärt, dass eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen werden könne, wenn es einen berechtigten Grund für die nicht-Einhaltung der Terminfrist gäbe und dieser berechtigte Grund ähnlich wie die Sorgfaltspflichtskriterien („due care“) des EPA dargelegt werden könne. Gemäß der in den Richtlinien zitierten Beispiele scheint die japanische Praxis der Wiederherstellung von geistigen Eigentumsrechten dennoch strikter als die europäische. Es ist daher unbedingt erforderlich, die Terminfristen mit besonderer Sorgfalt zu behandeln. Der Antragsteller/Eigentümer sollte beispielsweise alle Terminfristen von einer zweiten Person überwachen sowie alle eingegeben Daten alle paar Monate überprüfen lassen. Wenn ein gesetzlicher Vertreter die Überwachung der Terminfrist übernimmt, sollte der Antragsteller/Eigentümer ihn, bzw. sie dahingehend anweisen, das System sorgfältig zu überprüfen und den/die Vertreter/in entsprechend überwachen, so dass das Prüfsystem angemessen funktioniert. Außerdem sollte beachtet werden, dass, falls eine Terminfrist einmal versäumt sein sollte, der Antragsteller/Eigentümer den Antrag zur Wiederherstellung seiner geistigen Eigentumsrechte so schnell wie möglich in die Wege leiten muss.

Herr Kazuya Sekiguchi ist Japanischer und Europäischer Patentvertreter (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻)) bei Dennemeyer & Associates in München und ist seit 2004 im gewerblichen Rechtsschutz (Intellectual Property/IP) tätig. Er hält einen japanischen Abschluss als Master of Engineering in Applied Chemistry (angewandte Chemie) und berät Mandanten bei Patentrechtsverletzungen in Japan von unserem Standort in München aus. Zu seinen Fachbereichen zählen unter anderem die Bereiche Chemie, Pharmazeutik sowie Lasertechnik (Spektroskopik). Kontaktieren Sie Kazuya Sekiguchi unter: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

Das japanische Patentamt hat vor Kurzem seine Regeln zur Wiederherstellung geistiger Eigentumsrechte überarbeitet. Kazuya Sekiguchi.

In der Vergangenheit war es recht schwierig, geistige Eigentumsrechte in Japan wiederherzustellen. Es gab nahezu keinen Fall, in dem eine Wiederherstellung zugelassen wurde, wenn die ursprüngliche Terminfrist versäumt worden war. Um sich jedoch der internationalen Auslegung anzugleichen, hat das japanische Patentamt (JPA) vor Kurzem seine Regeln in Bezug auf die Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte überarbeitet und die Anforderungen geändert, um die Konditionen für Antragsteller und Eigentümer zu verbessern. Allerdings ist immer noch nicht ganz klar, ob es dadurch tatsächlich leichter geworden ist, erloschene geistige Eigentumsrechte wiederherzustellen oder nicht.

Der folgende Artikel untersucht die neuen Anforderungen an die Wiederherstellung geistiger Eigentumsrechte in Japan und die Richtlinien zur Wiederherstellung, die das JPA veröffentlicht hat.

Den überarbeiteten Vorschriften zur Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte nach zu urteilen kann ein Versäumnis, die Terminfristen für folgende Verfahren einzuhalten, in folgenden Fällen abgewendet werden:

  • Einreichen einer Übersetzung für einen Antrag in einer Fremdsprache (Artikel 36(2) des Patentrechts)
  • Einreichen einer Anfrage für eine Prüfung (Artikel 48(3) des Patentrechts)
  • Zahlung der Patentgebühren (mit Zuschlägen) (Artikel 112(2) des Patentrechts, Artikel 33(2) des Gebrauchsmusterrechts und Artikel 44(2) des Designrechts)
  • Einreichung einer Übersetzung für die PCT-Nationalisierung (Artikel 184(4) des Patentrechts)
  • Anfrage auf eine Erneuerung eines Markenzeichens (Artikel 21 des Markenrechts)
  • Inanspruchnahme der Priorität basierend auf der Pariser Verbandsübereinkunft (Artikel 43(2) des Patentrechts)

Die Anforderungen für eine Wiederherstellung lauten:

  • Es muss einen berechtigten Grund für das Versäumnis, die Terminauflagen einzuhalten, geben, obwohl der Antragsteller alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen hierfür ergriffen hat, und:
  • bezüglich der ersten fünf Vorgänge, die obenstehend aufgeführt wurden, muss der Antrag zur Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte innerhalb von zwei Monaten ab dem Datum eingereicht werden, an dem der berechtigte Grund für solch ein Versäumnis wegfällt, solange dies innerhalb von einem Jahr nach Ablauf dieser Frist erfolgt (innerhalb von sechs Monaten falls eine Erneuerung eines Markenzeichens beantragt wird, o.g. 5. Punkt).
  • In Bezug auf den 6. Punkt (Antrag auf Priorität basierend auf der Pariser Verbandsübereinkunft), muss der Antrag innerhalb von zwei Monaten nach Ablauf der Prioritätsfrist (z. B. innerhalb von 14 Monaten ab dem Prioritätsdatum) eingereicht werden.

Wie oben erwähnt, muss es einen berechtigten Grund für die Nicht-Einhaltung der Terminfrist geben, damit die erloschenen geistigen Eigentumsrechte wiederhergestellt werden können. Laut JPA lehnt sich die Definition für „berechtigte Gründe“ an die Sorgfaltskriterien („due care“) des Europäischen Patentamts (EPA) an. In seinen Richtlinien zur Wiederherstellung schildert das JPA auch konkrete Beispiele, in denen eine Wiederherstellung akzeptiert, bzw. abgelehnt wurde.

Ob der Grund für ein Versäumnis solch einer Terminfrist berechtigt ist oder nicht, hängt davon ab, ob der Grund vorhersehbar war. Wenn der Grund vorhersehbar war, dann ist der Grund für ein Versäumnis nicht berechtigt. Das heißt, ein erloschenes, geistiges Eigentumsrecht kann nicht wiederhergestellt werden, wenn der Grund für das Versäumnis der Terminfrist vorhersehbar war. Dazu zitieren die Richtlinien folgende Beispiele: „Die Abwesenheit eines gesetzlichen Vertreters auf Grund eines geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalts“; „Der Abriss eines alten Firmengebäudes verbunden mit dem Bau eines neuen Büros“; „Die Abwesenheit eines Nachfolgers auf Grund der Pensionierung des Vorgängers“ und „Das nicht-in-der-Lage-sein, Anträge zu bearbeiten, auf Grund von geplanten Stromausfällen“. All diese Fälle werden als „vorhersehbar“ betrachtet und eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte aus einem dieser Gründe daher nicht zugelassen.

Hinsichtlich des Versäumnisgrundes „Die Abwesenheit eines gesetzlichen Vertreters auf Grund eines geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalts“ scheint das JPA es gemäß diesen Richtlinien als „geplanten Krankenhausaufenthalt“ zu betrachten, wenn die entsprechende Person ihre Abwesenheit jemandem im Voraus hätte mitteilen können. Das bedeutet, dass diese nur dann als „unvorhersehbar“ betrachtet wird, wenn die Person (oder der gesetzliche Vertreter) überraschend ins Krankenhaus eingewiesen wird und nicht mehr die Möglichkeit hatte, seine Abwesenheit irgendeiner anderen Person mitzuteilen. Andererseits gab es jedoch einen Fall bei der Beschwerdekammer des EPA, in dem das EPA die Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen hat, als der gesetzliche Vertreter des Antragstellers selbst plötzlich erkrankte und innerhalb von zwei Tagen operiert werden musste. Seine Sekretärin war ebenfalls abwesend an diesen beiden Arbeitstagen (T525/91). In diesem Fall, hätte der gesetzliche Vertreter zwar theoretisch zwei Tage Zeit gehabt, seine Abwesenheit dem Antragsteller mitzuteilen, das EPA hatte jedoch die Wiederherstellung der Rechte unter diesen Umständen zugelassen. Im Gegensatz hierzu wird das JPA keine Wiederherstellung der geistigen Eigentumsrechte in der gleichen Situation wie T525/91 zulassen, weil der gesetzliche Vertreter andere über seine Abwesenheit vor seinem Krankenhausaufenthalt hätte informieren können.

Falls der Grund für das Versäumen einer Terminfrist unvorhersehbar ist, können die erloschenen geistigen Eigentumsrechte in den einigen Fällen wiederhergestellt werden, wenn der Antragsteller/Eigentümer/gesetzliche Vertreter alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen ergriffen hat, um irgendwelche Fehler zu vermeiden. Die Richtlinien erläutern, in welchen Fällen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen wird oder nicht:

Fälle, in denen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht zugelassen wird:

  • Eine falsche Terminfrist wurde vermerkt auf Grund falsch eingegebener Daten, wobei keine geeigneten Maßnahmen ergriffen wurden (wie etwa die Überprüfung dieser Daten), um einen solchen Fehler zu vermeiden.
  • Die Anweisungen wurden nicht an den Empfänger geleitet auf Grund eines Fehlers bei der E-Mail- oder Fax-Übertragung, wobei der Absender den Empfang durch den Empfänger nicht bestätigt hat.
  • Die Person, die es versäumt hat, die Terminfrist einzuhalten, war nicht mit dem Terminfrist-Management-System vertraut.

Fälle, in denen eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen wird:

  • Es kam zu einer speziellen Situation, die es unmöglich machte zu verhindern, dass eine falsche Terminfrist vermerkt wurde, auf Grund falsch eingegebener Daten, obwohl wesentliche Maßnahmen ergriffen wurden, um einen solchen Fehler zu verhindern.
  • Es kam zu einer speziellen Situation, die es unmöglich machte, zu verhindern, dass eine falsche Terminfrist vermerkt wurde, weil ein unvorhersehbarer Systemfehler auftrat.
  • Die Terminfrist wurde bedingt durch eine Naturkatastrophe versäumt.

Wie oben erwähnt, kann die Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht genehmigt werden, wenn die falschen Daten eingetragen und keine wesentlichen Maßnahmen diesbezüglich ergriffen worden sind. Das bedeutet, dass - wenn die Terminfrist auf Grund menschlichen Versagens, wie etwa durch die falsche Eingabe von Daten - versäumt wurde, ohne dass wesentliche Maßnahmen diesbezüglich ergriffen wurden, wie beispielsweise eine Überprüfung dieser Daten - es unmöglich wäre, die geistigen Eigentumsrechte wiederherzustellen. Dieses Kriterium ist ähnlich dem des EPA, wonach die Wiederherstellung von Rechten nicht zugelassen werden kann, wenn keine Gegenprüfung (wesentliche Maßnahmen wurden ergriffen, um etwaige Fehler zu vermeiden) vorgenommen wurde (als Beispiel siehe: J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 und T 1962/08).

Im europäischen Recht kann jedoch eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen werden, wenn es sich um nur einen einzelnen Fehler in einem ansonsten zufriedenstellenden System handelt (z. B. T1024/02, T165/04 und T221/04) und wenn plausibel nachgewiesen werden kann, dass ein normalerweise wirkungsvolles System zur Überwachung der Terminfristen zum entsprechenden Zeitpunkt eingerichtet wurde (J2/86 und J3/86).

Im Gegensatz hierzu scheint es in Japan so zu sein, dass ein einzelner Fehler in einem normalerweise zufriedenstellenden System keinen Anlass für eine Wiederherstellung bietet, weil es gemäß diesen Richtlinien erforderlich ist, dass es eine spezifische Situation unmöglich gemacht hat, einen solchen Fehler zu vermeiden.

In Bezug auf eine spezifische Situation, die es unmöglich macht, solch einen Fehler zu vermeiden, nennen die Richtlinien als Beispiel eine Situation, wie etwa: „Der Antragsteller/Eigentümer oder der gesetzliche Vertreter ist ein Kleinunternehmen, wie z.B. ein Familienunternehmen und die Person, die für die geistigen Eigentumsrechte zuständig ist, ist plötzlich verstorben. In der Verwirrung solch einer Situation könnte die neu ernannte Person, die nun mit den geistigen Eigentumsrechten betraut wurde, versehentlich die Unterlagen an die verkehrte Adresse geschickt und die Terminfrist somit verpasst haben.“ Das Beispiel dieser spezifischen Situation, die hier in den Richtlinien genannt wird, ist so speziell, dass die Hürde für einen Antrag zur Wiederherstellung der Rechte in Japan nach wie vor sehr hoch scheint.

Abschließend steht in den Richtlinien, dass der Antragsteller/Eigentümer/gesetzliche Vertreter ebenfalls alle erforderlichen Maßnahmen ergreifen muss, wenn er erkennen sollte, dass es einen Fall gibt, der ihn an der Einhaltung dieser Terminfristen hindert. Wenn also zum Beispiel eine verantwortliche Person plötzlich krank und bettlägerig und dadurch für eine Weile arbeitsunfähig wird, (der rote Zeitraum auf Abbildung 1) und sein Kollege über die Fakten dieses Falles informiert sein könnte, dann müsste sich dessen Kollege somit auch über die Risiken einer verpassten Terminfrist bewusst sein. In diesem Fall kann die Wiederherstellung der Rechte nicht zugelassen werden, außer der Kollege hätte dementsprechend versucht, ein Versäumnis dieser Terminfrist zu verhindern, selbst wenn die anderen Anforderungen eingehalten wurden (die notwendigen Maßnahmen wurden im Voraus getroffen und der Antrag zur Wiederherstellung wurde im angemessenen Zeitraum eingereicht).

Debatte

Das JPA erklärt, dass eine Wiederherstellung der Rechte zugelassen werden könne, wenn es einen berechtigten Grund für die nicht-Einhaltung der Terminfrist gäbe und dieser berechtigte Grund ähnlich wie die Sorgfaltspflichtskriterien („due care“) des EPA dargelegt werden könne. Gemäß der in den Richtlinien zitierten Beispiele scheint die japanische Praxis der Wiederherstellung von geistigen Eigentumsrechten dennoch strikter als die europäische. Es ist daher unbedingt erforderlich, die Terminfristen mit besonderer Sorgfalt zu behandeln. Der Antragsteller/Eigentümer sollte beispielsweise alle Terminfristen von einer zweiten Person überwachen sowie alle eingegeben Daten alle paar Monate überprüfen lassen. Wenn ein gesetzlicher Vertreter die Überwachung der Terminfrist übernimmt, sollte der Antragsteller/Eigentümer ihn, bzw. sie dahingehend anweisen, das System sorgfältig zu überprüfen und den/die Vertreter/in entsprechend überwachen, so dass das Prüfsystem angemessen funktioniert. Außerdem sollte beachtet werden, dass, falls eine Terminfrist einmal versäumt sein sollte, der Antragsteller/Eigentümer den Antrag zur Wiederherstellung seiner geistigen Eigentumsrechte so schnell wie möglich in die Wege leiten muss.

Herr Kazuya Sekiguchi ist Japanischer und Europäischer Patentvertreter (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻)) bei Dennemeyer & Associates in München und ist seit 2004 im gewerblichen Rechtsschutz (Intellectual Property/IP) tätig. Er hält einen japanischen Abschluss als Master of Engineering in Applied Chemistry (angewandte Chemie) und berät Mandanten bei Patentrechtsverletzungen in Japan von unserem Standort in München aus. Zu seinen Fachbereichen zählen unter anderem die Bereiche Chemie, Pharmazeutik sowie Lasertechnik (Spektroskopik). Kontaktieren Sie Kazuya Sekiguchi unter: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

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The Japan Patent Office recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights. Kazuya Sekiguchi discusses the implications.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to restore IP rights in Japan. There have been almost no cases where restoration was admitted after a failure to meet a deadline. To align with international harmonisation, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights and the requirements have been changed to be more applicant/proprietor friendly. However, it is still not clear whether it has actually become easier to reinstate lost IP rights or not.

Below, we examine the new requirements for reinstating IP rights in Japan and review the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO.

According to the revised rules relating to restoration of IP rights, failure to meet the deadlines of the following procedures can be saved:

  • Filing a translation for foreign language application (Article 36-2 of Patent Law)
  • Request for an examination (Article 48-3 of Patent Law).
  • Paying patent annuities (with surcharges) (Article 112-2 of Patent Law, Article 33-2 of Utility Model Law and Article 44-2 of Design Law).
  • Filing a translation for PCT nationalization (Article 184-4 of Patent Law)
  • .Requesting a renewal for a trademark (Article 21 of Trademark Law).
  • Claiming priority based on the Paris Convention (Article 43-2 of Patent Law).

The requirements for the restoration are as follows:

  • There must be a justifiable reason for failing to comply with the time limit, in spite of the applicant taking the necessary measures required; and,
  • Regarding the first five procedures listed above, the request for restoring the IP rights must be filed within two months of the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, as long as this is done within one year (six months for the fifth point, requesting the renewal of a trademark) after the expiration of the period.
  • With respect to the sixth procedure (claiming priority based on the Paris Convention), the request must be filed within two months of the expiration of the priority period (ie, within 14 months of the priority date).

As mentioned above, there needs to be a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit in order for the lapsed IP rights to be restored. According to the JPO, ‘justifiable reason’ can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the European Patent Office (EPO). In the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO, examples in which restoration is admitted or not admitted are exemplified.

Whether the reason for missing a deadline is a justifiable reason depends on whether the reason was predictable. If the reason is predictable it cannot be justifiable. That is, a lapsed IP right cannot be restored when the reason for missing the deadline was predictable. In this regard, the Guidelines mention that “absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation”, “demolition of old company building and construction of new one”, “the absence of successor due to retirement of the predecessor”, and “impossibility of handling cases due to scheduled electricity outage” are deemed to be predictable and thus the restoration based on those grounds will not be admitted.

Taking the absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation, it seems that, according to the Guidelines, the JPO will regard it as scheduled hospitalization if the person could inform his absence to someone in advance. That is to say, it is regarded as unpredictable only when the person (representative) is suddendly admitted to hospital and had no chance to inform his absence to any other person. On the other hand, there was a case by the board of appeal of the EPO in which the EPO admitted reestablishment of rights when the appellant’s legal representative suffered a sudden illness and underwent surgery within two working days. Also, his secretary was absent on one of those two working days (T525/91). In this case, the representative had two days to inform his absence to the applicant, but the EPO admitted restoration under this condition.

On the contrary, the JPO will not admit restoration of the IP rights in the same situation as T525/91 because the representative could let others know of his absence before his hospitalisation.

If the reason for missing the deadline is unpredictable, the lapsed IP right may be restored, provided that the applicant/ proprietor/representative took all necessary measures to avoid any mistakes. The guidelines illustrate in which cases the restoration will or will not be admitted as follows:

Cases where the restoration will not be admitted

  • Wrong deadline was docketed due to incorrectly inputted data, wherein no substantial measure (eg, double check) was taken to avoid such a mistake.
  • Instruction did not reach the receiver due to communication error in email or facsimile, wherein the sender did not confirm the receipt by the receiver.
  • The person who failed to meet the deadline was not familiar with the deadline management system.

Cases where the restoration may be admitted

  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline due to incorrectly inputted data, although substantial measures to avoid such mistake had been taken.
  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline because there was an unpredictable system error.
  • The deadline was missed because of natural disaster.

As mentioned above, restoration cannot be admitted if wrong data was inputted and no substantial measure was taken. This means that if the deadline was missed because of human error, such as incorrect data inputting, without substantial measures such as double checking, it would be impossible to restore the IP right. This criterion is similar to that of the EPO, wherein the re-establishment of rights cannot be admitted if no cross-check (substantial measure to avoid mistakes) was taken (J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 and T 1962/08, for example).

In the European practice, however, the reestablishment of rights can be admitted when a mistake is an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system (for example, T1024/02, T165/04 and T221/04), and when it is plausibly shown that a normally effective system for monitoring time limits was established at the relevant time (J2/86 and J3/86).

On the other hand, in Japan it seems that an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system will not be a ground for restoration because it is required that there was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, according to the Guidelines.

With regard to the specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, the Guidelines exemplify a situation such as “the applicant/proprietor or the representative is a small entity like a family-run firm, and the person who handled IP matters died suddenly. In the confusion of such a situation, the newly appointed person to handle IP matters sent the documents to wrong address and the deadline was missed”. The example of the specific situation listed in the guidelines is so special that the hurdle for the request of restoration to be admitted seems to be still high in Japan.

Finally, the Guidelines state that the applicant/proprietor/representative also needs to take all necessary measures once he recognises the incident that prevents him from complying with a deadline. For example, a responsible person suddenly becomes ill in bed and cannot work for a while (red period inFigure 1) and his colleague could know this fact (and thus the colleague could know the risk of missing a deadline). In this case, the restoration cannot be admitted unless the colleague tried to avoid missing the deadline accordingly even if the other requirements (necessary measures were taken in advance and the request for the restoration was filed in an appropriate period) are met.

Discussion

The JPO states that the restoration may be admitted if there is a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit and said justifiable reason can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the EPO. However, according to the examples listed in the guidelines, it seems to be stricter in Japanese practice than in the European practice for the restoration to be admitted. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of deadlines in a specifically careful manner. The applicant/ proprietor should, for example, double check all deadlines with a second person as well as checking input data every few months.When the agent takes care of the deadlines, the applicant/proprietor should instruct him or her to adopt a careful check system and control the agent so that the check system works properly. Further, once the deadline is missed, the applicant/proprietor should take action for restoring his IP rights as soon as possible.

Mr. Kazuya SEKIGUCHI is Japanese and European patent attorney (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻) at Dennemeyer & Associates in Munich. He is active in the area of intellectual property law since 2004 and he is qualified as a M. Eng. (Applied Chemistry), and as a specific Infringement Lawsuits Counsel in Japan. His areas of expertise are chemistry, pharmaceutics, lasers (spectroscopics).You can contact Mr. Sekiguchi at: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

The Japan Patent Office recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights. Kazuya Sekiguchi discusses the implications.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to restore IP rights in Japan. There have been almost no cases where restoration was admitted after a failure to meet a deadline. To align with international harmonisation, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights and the requirements have been changed to be more applicant/proprietor friendly. However, it is still not clear whether it has actually become easier to reinstate lost IP rights or not.

Below, we examine the new requirements for reinstating IP rights in Japan and review the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO.

According to the revised rules relating to restoration of IP rights, failure to meet the deadlines of the following procedures can be saved:

  • Filing a translation for foreign language application (Article 36-2 of Patent Law)
  • Request for an examination (Article 48-3 of Patent Law).
  • Paying patent annuities (with surcharges) (Article 112-2 of Patent Law, Article 33-2 of Utility Model Law and Article 44-2 of Design Law).
  • Filing a translation for PCT nationalization (Article 184-4 of Patent Law)
  • .Requesting a renewal for a trademark (Article 21 of Trademark Law).
  • Claiming priority based on the Paris Convention (Article 43-2 of Patent Law).

The requirements for the restoration are as follows:

  • There must be a justifiable reason for failing to comply with the time limit, in spite of the applicant taking the necessary measures required; and,
  • Regarding the first five procedures listed above, the request for restoring the IP rights must be filed within two months of the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, as long as this is done within one year (six months for the fifth point, requesting the renewal of a trademark) after the expiration of the period.
  • With respect to the sixth procedure (claiming priority based on the Paris Convention), the request must be filed within two months of the expiration of the priority period (ie, within 14 months of the priority date).

As mentioned above, there needs to be a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit in order for the lapsed IP rights to be restored. According to the JPO, ‘justifiable reason’ can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the European Patent Office (EPO). In the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO, examples in which restoration is admitted or not admitted are exemplified.

Whether the reason for missing a deadline is a justifiable reason depends on whether the reason was predictable. If the reason is predictable it cannot be justifiable. That is, a lapsed IP right cannot be restored when the reason for missing the deadline was predictable. In this regard, the Guidelines mention that “absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation”, “demolition of old company building and construction of new one”, “the absence of successor due to retirement of the predecessor”, and “impossibility of handling cases due to scheduled electricity outage” are deemed to be predictable and thus the restoration based on those grounds will not be admitted.

Taking the absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation, it seems that, according to the Guidelines, the JPO will regard it as scheduled hospitalization if the person could inform his absence to someone in advance. That is to say, it is regarded as unpredictable only when the person (representative) is suddendly admitted to hospital and had no chance to inform his absence to any other person. On the other hand, there was a case by the board of appeal of the EPO in which the EPO admitted reestablishment of rights when the appellant’s legal representative suffered a sudden illness and underwent surgery within two working days. Also, his secretary was absent on one of those two working days (T525/91). In this case, the representative had two days to inform his absence to the applicant, but the EPO admitted restoration under this condition.

On the contrary, the JPO will not admit restoration of the IP rights in the same situation as T525/91 because the representative could let others know of his absence before his hospitalisation.

If the reason for missing the deadline is unpredictable, the lapsed IP right may be restored, provided that the applicant/ proprietor/representative took all necessary measures to avoid any mistakes. The guidelines illustrate in which cases the restoration will or will not be admitted as follows:

Cases where the restoration will not be admitted

  • Wrong deadline was docketed due to incorrectly inputted data, wherein no substantial measure (eg, double check) was taken to avoid such a mistake.
  • Instruction did not reach the receiver due to communication error in email or facsimile, wherein the sender did not confirm the receipt by the receiver.
  • The person who failed to meet the deadline was not familiar with the deadline management system.

Cases where the restoration may be admitted

  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline due to incorrectly inputted data, although substantial measures to avoid such mistake had been taken.
  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline because there was an unpredictable system error.
  • The deadline was missed because of natural disaster.

As mentioned above, restoration cannot be admitted if wrong data was inputted and no substantial measure was taken. This means that if the deadline was missed because of human error, such as incorrect data inputting, without substantial measures such as double checking, it would be impossible to restore the IP right. This criterion is similar to that of the EPO, wherein the re-establishment of rights cannot be admitted if no cross-check (substantial measure to avoid mistakes) was taken (J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 and T 1962/08, for example).

In the European practice, however, the reestablishment of rights can be admitted when a mistake is an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system (for example, T1024/02, T165/04 and T221/04), and when it is plausibly shown that a normally effective system for monitoring time limits was established at the relevant time (J2/86 and J3/86).

On the other hand, in Japan it seems that an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system will not be a ground for restoration because it is required that there was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, according to the Guidelines.

With regard to the specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, the Guidelines exemplify a situation such as “the applicant/proprietor or the representative is a small entity like a family-run firm, and the person who handled IP matters died suddenly. In the confusion of such a situation, the newly appointed person to handle IP matters sent the documents to wrong address and the deadline was missed”. The example of the specific situation listed in the guidelines is so special that the hurdle for the request of restoration to be admitted seems to be still high in Japan.

Finally, the Guidelines state that the applicant/proprietor/representative also needs to take all necessary measures once he recognises the incident that prevents him from complying with a deadline. For example, a responsible person suddenly becomes ill in bed and cannot work for a while (red period inFigure 1) and his colleague could know this fact (and thus the colleague could know the risk of missing a deadline). In this case, the restoration cannot be admitted unless the colleague tried to avoid missing the deadline accordingly even if the other requirements (necessary measures were taken in advance and the request for the restoration was filed in an appropriate period) are met.

Discussion

The JPO states that the restoration may be admitted if there is a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit and said justifiable reason can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the EPO. However, according to the examples listed in the guidelines, it seems to be stricter in Japanese practice than in the European practice for the restoration to be admitted. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of deadlines in a specifically careful manner. The applicant/ proprietor should, for example, double check all deadlines with a second person as well as checking input data every few months.When the agent takes care of the deadlines, the applicant/proprietor should instruct him or her to adopt a careful check system and control the agent so that the check system works properly. Further, once the deadline is missed, the applicant/proprietor should take action for restoring his IP rights as soon as possible.

Mr. Kazuya SEKIGUCHI is Japanese and European patent attorney (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻) at Dennemeyer & Associates in Munich. He is active in the area of intellectual property law since 2004 and he is qualified as a M. Eng. (Applied Chemistry), and as a specific Infringement Lawsuits Counsel in Japan. His areas of expertise are chemistry, pharmaceutics, lasers (spectroscopics).You can contact Mr. Sekiguchi at: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

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The Japan Patent Office recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights. Kazuya Sekiguchi discusses the implications.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to restore IP rights in Japan. There have been almost no cases where restoration was admitted after a failure to meet a deadline. To align with international harmonisation, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights and the requirements have been changed to be more applicant/proprietor friendly. However, it is still not clear whether it has actually become easier to reinstate lost IP rights or not.

Below, we examine the new requirements for reinstating IP rights in Japan and review the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO.

According to the revised rules relating to restoration of IP rights, failure to meet the deadlines of the following procedures can be saved:

  • Filing a translation for foreign language application (Article 36-2 of Patent Law)
  • Request for an examination (Article 48-3 of Patent Law).
  • Paying patent annuities (with surcharges) (Article 112-2 of Patent Law, Article 33-2 of Utility Model Law and Article 44-2 of Design Law).
  • Filing a translation for PCT nationalization (Article 184-4 of Patent Law)
  • .Requesting a renewal for a trademark (Article 21 of Trademark Law).
  • Claiming priority based on the Paris Convention (Article 43-2 of Patent Law).

The requirements for the restoration are as follows:

  • There must be a justifiable reason for failing to comply with the time limit, in spite of the applicant taking the necessary measures required; and,
  • Regarding the first five procedures listed above, the request for restoring the IP rights must be filed within two months of the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, as long as this is done within one year (six months for the fifth point, requesting the renewal of a trademark) after the expiration of the period.
  • With respect to the sixth procedure (claiming priority based on the Paris Convention), the request must be filed within two months of the expiration of the priority period (ie, within 14 months of the priority date).

As mentioned above, there needs to be a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit in order for the lapsed IP rights to be restored. According to the JPO, ‘justifiable reason’ can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the European Patent Office (EPO). In the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO, examples in which restoration is admitted or not admitted are exemplified.

Whether the reason for missing a deadline is a justifiable reason depends on whether the reason was predictable. If the reason is predictable it cannot be justifiable. That is, a lapsed IP right cannot be restored when the reason for missing the deadline was predictable. In this regard, the Guidelines mention that “absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation”, “demolition of old company building and construction of new one”, “the absence of successor due to retirement of the predecessor”, and “impossibility of handling cases due to scheduled electricity outage” are deemed to be predictable and thus the restoration based on those grounds will not be admitted.

Taking the absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation, it seems that, according to the Guidelines, the JPO will regard it as scheduled hospitalization if the person could inform his absence to someone in advance. That is to say, it is regarded as unpredictable only when the person (representative) is suddendly admitted to hospital and had no chance to inform his absence to any other person. On the other hand, there was a case by the board of appeal of the EPO in which the EPO admitted reestablishment of rights when the appellant’s legal representative suffered a sudden illness and underwent surgery within two working days. Also, his secretary was absent on one of those two working days (T525/91). In this case, the representative had two days to inform his absence to the applicant, but the EPO admitted restoration under this condition.

On the contrary, the JPO will not admit restoration of the IP rights in the same situation as T525/91 because the representative could let others know of his absence before his hospitalisation.

If the reason for missing the deadline is unpredictable, the lapsed IP right may be restored, provided that the applicant/ proprietor/representative took all necessary measures to avoid any mistakes. The guidelines illustrate in which cases the restoration will or will not be admitted as follows:

Cases where the restoration will not be admitted

  • Wrong deadline was docketed due to incorrectly inputted data, wherein no substantial measure (eg, double check) was taken to avoid such a mistake.
  • Instruction did not reach the receiver due to communication error in email or facsimile, wherein the sender did not confirm the receipt by the receiver.
  • The person who failed to meet the deadline was not familiar with the deadline management system.

Cases where the restoration may be admitted

  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline due to incorrectly inputted data, although substantial measures to avoid such mistake had been taken.
  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline because there was an unpredictable system error.
  • The deadline was missed because of natural disaster.

As mentioned above, restoration cannot be admitted if wrong data was inputted and no substantial measure was taken. This means that if the deadline was missed because of human error, such as incorrect data inputting, without substantial measures such as double checking, it would be impossible to restore the IP right. This criterion is similar to that of the EPO, wherein the re-establishment of rights cannot be admitted if no cross-check (substantial measure to avoid mistakes) was taken (J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 and T 1962/08, for example).

In the European practice, however, the reestablishment of rights can be admitted when a mistake is an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system (for example, T1024/02, T165/04 and T221/04), and when it is plausibly shown that a normally effective system for monitoring time limits was established at the relevant time (J2/86 and J3/86).

On the other hand, in Japan it seems that an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system will not be a ground for restoration because it is required that there was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, according to the Guidelines.

With regard to the specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, the Guidelines exemplify a situation such as “the applicant/proprietor or the representative is a small entity like a family-run firm, and the person who handled IP matters died suddenly. In the confusion of such a situation, the newly appointed person to handle IP matters sent the documents to wrong address and the deadline was missed”. The example of the specific situation listed in the guidelines is so special that the hurdle for the request of restoration to be admitted seems to be still high in Japan.

Finally, the Guidelines state that the applicant/proprietor/representative also needs to take all necessary measures once he recognises the incident that prevents him from complying with a deadline. For example, a responsible person suddenly becomes ill in bed and cannot work for a while (red period inFigure 1) and his colleague could know this fact (and thus the colleague could know the risk of missing a deadline). In this case, the restoration cannot be admitted unless the colleague tried to avoid missing the deadline accordingly even if the other requirements (necessary measures were taken in advance and the request for the restoration was filed in an appropriate period) are met.

Discussion

The JPO states that the restoration may be admitted if there is a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit and said justifiable reason can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the EPO. However, according to the examples listed in the guidelines, it seems to be stricter in Japanese practice than in the European practice for the restoration to be admitted. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of deadlines in a specifically careful manner. The applicant/ proprietor should, for example, double check all deadlines with a second person as well as checking input data every few months.When the agent takes care of the deadlines, the applicant/proprietor should instruct him or her to adopt a careful check system and control the agent so that the check system works properly. Further, once the deadline is missed, the applicant/proprietor should take action for restoring his IP rights as soon as possible.

Mr. Kazuya SEKIGUCHI is Japanese and European patent attorney (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻) at Dennemeyer & Associates in Munich. He is active in the area of intellectual property law since 2004 and he is qualified as a M. Eng. (Applied Chemistry), and as a specific Infringement Lawsuits Counsel in Japan. His areas of expertise are chemistry, pharmaceutics, lasers (spectroscopics).You can contact Mr. Sekiguchi at: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

The Japan Patent Office recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights. Kazuya Sekiguchi discusses the implications.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to restore IP rights in Japan. There have been almost no cases where restoration was admitted after a failure to meet a deadline. To align with international harmonisation, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) recently revised the rules relating to restoration of IP rights and the requirements have been changed to be more applicant/proprietor friendly. However, it is still not clear whether it has actually become easier to reinstate lost IP rights or not.

Below, we examine the new requirements for reinstating IP rights in Japan and review the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO.

According to the revised rules relating to restoration of IP rights, failure to meet the deadlines of the following procedures can be saved:

  • Filing a translation for foreign language application (Article 36-2 of Patent Law)
  • Request for an examination (Article 48-3 of Patent Law).
  • Paying patent annuities (with surcharges) (Article 112-2 of Patent Law, Article 33-2 of Utility Model Law and Article 44-2 of Design Law).
  • Filing a translation for PCT nationalization (Article 184-4 of Patent Law)
  • .Requesting a renewal for a trademark (Article 21 of Trademark Law).
  • Claiming priority based on the Paris Convention (Article 43-2 of Patent Law).

The requirements for the restoration are as follows:

  • There must be a justifiable reason for failing to comply with the time limit, in spite of the applicant taking the necessary measures required; and,
  • Regarding the first five procedures listed above, the request for restoring the IP rights must be filed within two months of the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, as long as this is done within one year (six months for the fifth point, requesting the renewal of a trademark) after the expiration of the period.
  • With respect to the sixth procedure (claiming priority based on the Paris Convention), the request must be filed within two months of the expiration of the priority period (ie, within 14 months of the priority date).

As mentioned above, there needs to be a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit in order for the lapsed IP rights to be restored. According to the JPO, ‘justifiable reason’ can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the European Patent Office (EPO). In the Guidelines for Restoration published by the JPO, examples in which restoration is admitted or not admitted are exemplified.

Whether the reason for missing a deadline is a justifiable reason depends on whether the reason was predictable. If the reason is predictable it cannot be justifiable. That is, a lapsed IP right cannot be restored when the reason for missing the deadline was predictable. In this regard, the Guidelines mention that “absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation”, “demolition of old company building and construction of new one”, “the absence of successor due to retirement of the predecessor”, and “impossibility of handling cases due to scheduled electricity outage” are deemed to be predictable and thus the restoration based on those grounds will not be admitted.

Taking the absence of the representative due to scheduled hospitalisation, it seems that, according to the Guidelines, the JPO will regard it as scheduled hospitalization if the person could inform his absence to someone in advance. That is to say, it is regarded as unpredictable only when the person (representative) is suddendly admitted to hospital and had no chance to inform his absence to any other person. On the other hand, there was a case by the board of appeal of the EPO in which the EPO admitted reestablishment of rights when the appellant’s legal representative suffered a sudden illness and underwent surgery within two working days. Also, his secretary was absent on one of those two working days (T525/91). In this case, the representative had two days to inform his absence to the applicant, but the EPO admitted restoration under this condition.

On the contrary, the JPO will not admit restoration of the IP rights in the same situation as T525/91 because the representative could let others know of his absence before his hospitalisation.

If the reason for missing the deadline is unpredictable, the lapsed IP right may be restored, provided that the applicant/ proprietor/representative took all necessary measures to avoid any mistakes. The guidelines illustrate in which cases the restoration will or will not be admitted as follows:

Cases where the restoration will not be admitted

  • Wrong deadline was docketed due to incorrectly inputted data, wherein no substantial measure (eg, double check) was taken to avoid such a mistake.
  • Instruction did not reach the receiver due to communication error in email or facsimile, wherein the sender did not confirm the receipt by the receiver.
  • The person who failed to meet the deadline was not familiar with the deadline management system.

Cases where the restoration may be admitted

  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline due to incorrectly inputted data, although substantial measures to avoid such mistake had been taken.
  • There was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid docketing the wrong deadline because there was an unpredictable system error.
  • The deadline was missed because of natural disaster.

As mentioned above, restoration cannot be admitted if wrong data was inputted and no substantial measure was taken. This means that if the deadline was missed because of human error, such as incorrect data inputting, without substantial measures such as double checking, it would be impossible to restore the IP right. This criterion is similar to that of the EPO, wherein the re-establishment of rights cannot be admitted if no cross-check (substantial measure to avoid mistakes) was taken (J 9/86, T 1465/07, T 257/07 and T 1962/08, for example).

In the European practice, however, the reestablishment of rights can be admitted when a mistake is an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system (for example, T1024/02, T165/04 and T221/04), and when it is plausibly shown that a normally effective system for monitoring time limits was established at the relevant time (J2/86 and J3/86).

On the other hand, in Japan it seems that an isolated mistake in a normally satisfactory system will not be a ground for restoration because it is required that there was a specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, according to the Guidelines.

With regard to the specific situation making it impossible to avoid the mistake, the Guidelines exemplify a situation such as “the applicant/proprietor or the representative is a small entity like a family-run firm, and the person who handled IP matters died suddenly. In the confusion of such a situation, the newly appointed person to handle IP matters sent the documents to wrong address and the deadline was missed”. The example of the specific situation listed in the guidelines is so special that the hurdle for the request of restoration to be admitted seems to be still high in Japan.

Finally, the Guidelines state that the applicant/proprietor/representative also needs to take all necessary measures once he recognises the incident that prevents him from complying with a deadline. For example, a responsible person suddenly becomes ill in bed and cannot work for a while (red period inFigure 1) and his colleague could know this fact (and thus the colleague could know the risk of missing a deadline). In this case, the restoration cannot be admitted unless the colleague tried to avoid missing the deadline accordingly even if the other requirements (necessary measures were taken in advance and the request for the restoration was filed in an appropriate period) are met.

Discussion

The JPO states that the restoration may be admitted if there is a justifiable reason for not complying with the time limit and said justifiable reason can be considered similar to the due care criteria adopted in the EPO. However, according to the examples listed in the guidelines, it seems to be stricter in Japanese practice than in the European practice for the restoration to be admitted. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of deadlines in a specifically careful manner. The applicant/ proprietor should, for example, double check all deadlines with a second person as well as checking input data every few months.When the agent takes care of the deadlines, the applicant/proprietor should instruct him or her to adopt a careful check system and control the agent so that the check system works properly. Further, once the deadline is missed, the applicant/proprietor should take action for restoring his IP rights as soon as possible.

Mr. Kazuya SEKIGUCHI is Japanese and European patent attorney (弁理士(日本), 欧州特許弁理士, 学位: 工学修士(応用化学専攻) at Dennemeyer & Associates in Munich. He is active in the area of intellectual property law since 2004 and he is qualified as a M. Eng. (Applied Chemistry), and as a specific Infringement Lawsuits Counsel in Japan. His areas of expertise are chemistry, pharmaceutics, lasers (spectroscopics).You can contact Mr. Sekiguchi at: ksekiguchi(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

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Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem, das EFI-Gutachten 2016 und sinkende Patentanmeldungen zeigen in Besorgnis erregender Form, wie die Politik seit 15 Jahren eine gezielte Innovationsförderung vernachlässigt.

Während nur noch Großunternehmen und ein paar wenige Hidden Champions ihre F&E-Ausgaben steigern, fällt die Innovationskraft der kleineren und mittleren Unternehmen immer dürftiger aus. Die F&E-Intensität in Spitzentechnologien wie Pharma, IT, Elektronik, Optik und Dienstleistungen sinkt, auch wenn die Automobil- und die Pharmaindustrie dagegen ankämpfen.

Prüfungsprozesse erlahmen

Das für den gesetzlichen Rahmen zuständige Bundesjustizministerium (BMJ) nutzt das fehlende Interesse der Parlamentarier an der Innovationspolitik und entscheidet praktisch im Alleingang, welche Gesetze in Deutschland angewendet oder  verweigert werden. Mit geschickt gesteuerten Gesetzesänderungen wurde so das Gebühreneinkommen aus gewerblichen Schutzrechten von ursprünglich wenigen Millionen auf weit über 150 Millionen Euro Überschuss gesteigert.

Deshalb kann das BMJ genüsslich zuschauen, wie immer mehr Ausländer dem rigideren Europäischen Patentamt den Rücken kehren und vermehrt beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA) ihre Innovationen anmelden, obwohl 186.000 Prüfungsverfahren anhängig sind und nur 33.000 jährlich erledigt werden. Wegen derzeit rund 180 fehlender Prüfer ist das deutsche Prüfungsverfahren auf eine durchschnittliche Dauer von sechs Jahren angestiegen, sodass der Anmelder nach der Offenlegung seiner technischen Lehreetwa 54 Monate ohne einen Patentschutz dasteht – eine verheerende Entwicklung angesichts immer schneller werdender Innovationszyklen.

Ausland hat Zeichen erkannt

Das Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft in Köln, der Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag sowie die Expertenkommission „Forschung und Innovation“ haben unlängst angeprangert, dass die Innovationquote der deutschen Betriebe rückläufig sei, weil sich die deutschen KMU immer mehr vom Patentschutz zurückziehen würden. Dagegen werden die Erfinder in China systematisch mit massiven Fördermitteln auch zu Anmeldungen im Ausland unterstützt. Inzwischen haben die Asiaten sogar die in grüner Gentechnik und im Bereich Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik starken USA bei der Zahl der Patent-Neuanmeldungen überholt.

Und was passiert in Deutschland? Nicht viel. Viele unserer Nachbarländer haben hingegen Eigeninitiativen für KMU gestartet, zum Beispiel in Form einer Patentbox. Großbritannien konnte inzwischen mit einer 200-prozentigen Abschreibung auf F&E-Aufwendungen und Frankreich mit einer Anschub-Finanzierung von F&EProjekten mit 30 Prozent erste Erfolge erzielen. Halbe Amtsgebühren etwa in Frankreich, den USA und Kanada haben ebenfalls ihre Wirkung gezeigt. Vor 30 Jahren galten auch in Deutschland noch der halbe Einkommensteuersatz für Gewinne aus Erfindungen und der halbe Mehrwertsteuersatz für Tätigkeiten eines Patentanwalts.

Zuerst erschienen in “Die News” 04/2016. Klicken Sie hier für den vollständigen Artikel.

Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem, das EFI-Gutachten 2016 und sinkende Patentanmeldungen zeigen in Besorgnis erregender Form, wie die Politik seit 15 Jahren eine gezielte Innovationsförderung vernachlässigt.

Während nur noch Großunternehmen und ein paar wenige Hidden Champions ihre F&E-Ausgaben steigern, fällt die Innovationskraft der kleineren und mittleren Unternehmen immer dürftiger aus. Die F&E-Intensität in Spitzentechnologien wie Pharma, IT, Elektronik, Optik und Dienstleistungen sinkt, auch wenn die Automobil- und die Pharmaindustrie dagegen ankämpfen.

Prüfungsprozesse erlahmen

Das für den gesetzlichen Rahmen zuständige Bundesjustizministerium (BMJ) nutzt das fehlende Interesse der Parlamentarier an der Innovationspolitik und entscheidet praktisch im Alleingang, welche Gesetze in Deutschland angewendet oder  verweigert werden. Mit geschickt gesteuerten Gesetzesänderungen wurde so das Gebühreneinkommen aus gewerblichen Schutzrechten von ursprünglich wenigen Millionen auf weit über 150 Millionen Euro Überschuss gesteigert.

Deshalb kann das BMJ genüsslich zuschauen, wie immer mehr Ausländer dem rigideren Europäischen Patentamt den Rücken kehren und vermehrt beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA) ihre Innovationen anmelden, obwohl 186.000 Prüfungsverfahren anhängig sind und nur 33.000 jährlich erledigt werden. Wegen derzeit rund 180 fehlender Prüfer ist das deutsche Prüfungsverfahren auf eine durchschnittliche Dauer von sechs Jahren angestiegen, sodass der Anmelder nach der Offenlegung seiner technischen Lehreetwa 54 Monate ohne einen Patentschutz dasteht – eine verheerende Entwicklung angesichts immer schneller werdender Innovationszyklen.

Ausland hat Zeichen erkannt

Das Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft in Köln, der Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag sowie die Expertenkommission „Forschung und Innovation“ haben unlängst angeprangert, dass die Innovationquote der deutschen Betriebe rückläufig sei, weil sich die deutschen KMU immer mehr vom Patentschutz zurückziehen würden. Dagegen werden die Erfinder in China systematisch mit massiven Fördermitteln auch zu Anmeldungen im Ausland unterstützt. Inzwischen haben die Asiaten sogar die in grüner Gentechnik und im Bereich Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik starken USA bei der Zahl der Patent-Neuanmeldungen überholt.

Und was passiert in Deutschland? Nicht viel. Viele unserer Nachbarländer haben hingegen Eigeninitiativen für KMU gestartet, zum Beispiel in Form einer Patentbox. Großbritannien konnte inzwischen mit einer 200-prozentigen Abschreibung auf F&E-Aufwendungen und Frankreich mit einer Anschub-Finanzierung von F&EProjekten mit 30 Prozent erste Erfolge erzielen. Halbe Amtsgebühren etwa in Frankreich, den USA und Kanada haben ebenfalls ihre Wirkung gezeigt. Vor 30 Jahren galten auch in Deutschland noch der halbe Einkommensteuersatz für Gewinne aus Erfindungen und der halbe Mehrwertsteuersatz für Tätigkeiten eines Patentanwalts.

Zuerst erschienen in “Die News” 04/2016. Klicken Sie hier für den vollständigen Artikel.

German Deutsch Read more

The European Patent Office (EPO) has very recently published a Notice concerning the opposition procedure before the EPO as from 1 July 2016. Readers will probably know that an opposition against a European Patent can be filed within nine months after grant. This will not change. Readers will probably also know that the opposition procedure can be quite lengthy so that years might pass before a decision is rendered by the first instance. This will change.

There are two major factors which shall contribute to speeding up the opposition procedure. Firstly, contrary to the former practice, extensions of time limits will be granted only in exceptional cases with duly substantiated requests. Secondly, when communicating the reply to an opposition from the patent proprietor to the opponent, the Opposition Division will at the same time prepare the next action. This next action will normally be the issuance of summons to oral proceedings.

The EPO claims that “[W]ith the revised workflow, the total time needed for a decision in straightforward cases will be reduced to 15 months, calculated as from expiry of the opposition period.” This will hopefully become reality and should make the possibility of a central revocation of a European Patent in an opposition procedure before the EPO even more attractive.

The European Patent Office (EPO) has very recently published a Notice concerning the opposition procedure before the EPO as from 1 July 2016. Readers will probably know that an opposition against a European Patent can be filed within nine months after grant. This will not change. Readers will probably also know that the opposition procedure can be quite lengthy so that years might pass before a decision is rendered by the first instance. This will change.

There are two major factors which shall contribute to speeding up the opposition procedure. Firstly, contrary to the former practice, extensions of time limits will be granted only in exceptional cases with duly substantiated requests. Secondly, when communicating the reply to an opposition from the patent proprietor to the opponent, the Opposition Division will at the same time prepare the next action. This next action will normally be the issuance of summons to oral proceedings.

The EPO claims that “[W]ith the revised workflow, the total time needed for a decision in straightforward cases will be reduced to 15 months, calculated as from expiry of the opposition period.” This will hopefully become reality and should make the possibility of a central revocation of a European Patent in an opposition procedure before the EPO even more attractive.

English Patents Read more

On June 23rd, UK citizens will decide if they want to remain in the European Union. Besides the economic effects of an exit of a UK Brexit on the EU, IP owners should start thinking about both the implications this could have on those of their European IP rights that cover the UK, as well as possible future scenarios for their IP rights in general.

EU Legislation

First of all, it is important to note that this would be the first time in the history of the EU that a Member State leaves the EU, thus it is still not clear how this would actually work on a practical level. Article 50 of the TEU states that, “any Member State may withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The Member State should notify the EU Council and both parties will conclude an agreement setting the arrangements and further relation between the country and the Union. After the Member State gives notice of its withdrawal, there is a two-year term for the treaties of the Union to cease their effects, unless the parties reach an agreement before the two-year term. However, this term might be extended by both parties.” As a result, EU treaties do not give much guidance on the exit of a Member State, making any possible scenario highly speculative.

Copyright protection

Regarding copyright protection, a Brexit would not have any major consequences, since copyright protection is not fully harmonized in the EU as it is. Further, copyright protection is mainly territorial and the UK is member to several International Treaties that cover copyright, thus they it would keep applying their national laws based on international minimum standards of protection.

Patent protection

First, it is worth highlighting that the protection of national Patents as well as national Trademark registrations would of course remain unchanged. Further, Patent applications filed with the EPO would also remain unchanged, since the EPC is not restricted to EU Member States. However, obtaining UK approval for the agreement on a Unified Patent Court might prove to be a challenge, since a Brexit would very likely slow down the implementation of the UPC.

Further, supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products are regulated by EU regulation N. 469/2009 and in Section 128B and Schedule 4A of the UK Patent Act 1977 (as amended), thus in case the UK decides to leave the EU, it is likely that either the Patent Act would have to be amended or a new Act would be required for obtaining SPCs in the UK. Moreover, as would be the case with any other EU right in force at the time of the exit, transitional provisions would have to be put in place in order to maintain the validity of already granted SPC’s in the UK.

Trademark and Design protection at the EUIPO

In the event of a Brexit, UK applicants would no longer be able to obtain protection in the UK by way of filing European trademarks and designs with EUIPO. An applicant could of course still file an EU application but would additionally have to file a separate national UK application. Moreover, according to Article 93.1 of the EU Trademark Regulations, only a legal practitioner in one of the Member States can act as representative in trademark matters before the EUIPO. As a result, UK attorneys would no longer be able to represent Trademarks and Designs before the EUIPO. Furthermore, a Brexit would necessitate transitional provisions for current EU Trademark and Designs registrations for converting these rights into national UK rights, if the owner wishes to maintain protection of such rights in the UK. Further, it would have to be decided if their rights once converted into national UK rights will keep their EU filing date.

Thus there are many uncertainties regarding the likely implications on IP if the UK decides to leave the EU. For now, IP owners should simply be aware that if a Brexit happens -they might face consequences with regard to the protection of their UK IP rights and that they may further have to take additional measures if they want to maintain their IP rights. Until a decision has been made, we can of course not give comprehensive advice on how to proceed, but can only point out the potentially controversial issues. We will of course look into these issues in more detail once the corresponding decisions have been made.

Read the Spanish version of the article published in The Patent Lawyer Mazagine.

Download the PDF article here.

Further information

On June 23rd, UK citizens will decide if they want to remain in the European Union. Besides the economic effects of an exit of a UK Brexit on the EU, IP owners should start thinking about both the implications this could have on those of their European IP rights that cover the UK, as well as possible future scenarios for their IP rights in general.

EU Legislation

First of all, it is important to note that this would be the first time in the history of the EU that a Member State leaves the EU, thus it is still not clear how this would actually work on a practical level. Article 50 of the TEU states that, “any Member State may withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The Member State should notify the EU Council and both parties will conclude an agreement setting the arrangements and further relation between the country and the Union. After the Member State gives notice of its withdrawal, there is a two-year term for the treaties of the Union to cease their effects, unless the parties reach an agreement before the two-year term. However, this term might be extended by both parties.” As a result, EU treaties do not give much guidance on the exit of a Member State, making any possible scenario highly speculative.

Copyright protection

Regarding copyright protection, a Brexit would not have any major consequences, since copyright protection is not fully harmonized in the EU as it is. Further, copyright protection is mainly territorial and the UK is member to several International Treaties that cover copyright, thus they it would keep applying their national laws based on international minimum standards of protection.

Patent protection

First, it is worth highlighting that the protection of national Patents as well as national Trademark registrations would of course remain unchanged. Further, Patent applications filed with the EPO would also remain unchanged, since the EPC is not restricted to EU Member States. However, obtaining UK approval for the agreement on a Unified Patent Court might prove to be a challenge, since a Brexit would very likely slow down the implementation of the UPC.

Further, supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products are regulated by EU regulation N. 469/2009 and in Section 128B and Schedule 4A of the UK Patent Act 1977 (as amended), thus in case the UK decides to leave the EU, it is likely that either the Patent Act would have to be amended or a new Act would be required for obtaining SPCs in the UK. Moreover, as would be the case with any other EU right in force at the time of the exit, transitional provisions would have to be put in place in order to maintain the validity of already granted SPC’s in the UK.

Trademark and Design protection at the EUIPO

In the event of a Brexit, UK applicants would no longer be able to obtain protection in the UK by way of filing European trademarks and designs with EUIPO. An applicant could of course still file an EU application but would additionally have to file a separate national UK application. Moreover, according to Article 93.1 of the EU Trademark Regulations, only a legal practitioner in one of the Member States can act as representative in trademark matters before the EUIPO. As a result, UK attorneys would no longer be able to represent Trademarks and Designs before the EUIPO. Furthermore, a Brexit would necessitate transitional provisions for current EU Trademark and Designs registrations for converting these rights into national UK rights, if the owner wishes to maintain protection of such rights in the UK. Further, it would have to be decided if their rights once converted into national UK rights will keep their EU filing date.

Thus there are many uncertainties regarding the likely implications on IP if the UK decides to leave the EU. For now, IP owners should simply be aware that if a Brexit happens -they might face consequences with regard to the protection of their UK IP rights and that they may further have to take additional measures if they want to maintain their IP rights. Until a decision has been made, we can of course not give comprehensive advice on how to proceed, but can only point out the potentially controversial issues. We will of course look into these issues in more detail once the corresponding decisions have been made.

Read the Spanish version of the article published in The Patent Lawyer Mazagine.

Download the PDF article here.

Further information

English Read more

Save 100%? Did you have to read that twice? Can you really recoup up to 100% of the PCT and EP search procedure costs?

Yes, you can.

On April 14, 2016, Dr. Robert Fichter from Dennemeyer & Associates hosted a short webinar to explain this little-publicized strategy. In this webinar you will discover three key items:

  • How you can receive a refund of up to 100% on search fees. [Hint: It has to do with Luxembourg's relationship with the EPO]
  • Key strategies to receive this refund.
  • A description of the procedures to follow.

This was then followed by an interactive question and answer session with Dr. Fichter.

Watch the recorded, on-demand webinar today. Don’t leave saving of upwards of 1500 EUR on the table. Simply watch this short webinar to discover how.

Save 100%? Did you have to read that twice? Can you really recoup up to 100% of the PCT and EP search procedure costs?

Yes, you can.

On April 14, 2016, Dr. Robert Fichter from Dennemeyer & Associates hosted a short webinar to explain this little-publicized strategy. In this webinar you will discover three key items:

  • How you can receive a refund of up to 100% on search fees. [Hint: It has to do with Luxembourg's relationship with the EPO]
  • Key strategies to receive this refund.
  • A description of the procedures to follow.

This was then followed by an interactive question and answer session with Dr. Fichter.

Watch the recorded, on-demand webinar today. Don’t leave saving of upwards of 1500 EUR on the table. Simply watch this short webinar to discover how.

English Read more

For businesses today it is critical to safeguard sensitive data against the growing number of online and natural threats. For data security, the operative words are confidence and transparency. Dennemeyer remains dedicated to security and takes extensive technical measures to protect client data when managing Intellectual Property portfolios.

  • Physical Location: All of our servers are located in Luxembourg and are Tier 4 certified; this ensures that clients have maximum reliability, quality, and security. Being the strictest certification level, Tier 4 data centers offer the highest redundancy standards, levels of availability, and least amount of hours of interruption per year.  Leading the data center industry, Luxembourg’s data protection standards are among the highest in the world due to the stringent service and technical performance levels required.
  • Access: Dennemeyer is ISO 9001:2015 certified. Our focus is to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the data that comprises your IP portfolios. We take the protection of your information seriously and have robust systems in place to manage and address risks that threaten data.
  • Data in Motion: We also minimize risk and maximize security through our Virtual Private Network. Offering a secure connection in which all network traffic is encrypted is a matter of course.

Although this list isn’t exhaustive, Dennemeyer operates a resilient, high security, and high-availability architecture through certified procedures to ensure that service performance continues to meet client expectations. Due to the importance of the topic Dennemeyer will keep on publishing news and articles on data security and keep you informed.

For businesses today it is critical to safeguard sensitive data against the growing number of online and natural threats. For data security, the operative words are confidence and transparency. Dennemeyer remains dedicated to security and takes extensive technical measures to protect client data when managing Intellectual Property portfolios.

  • Physical Location: All of our servers are located in Luxembourg and are Tier 4 certified; this ensures that clients have maximum reliability, quality, and security. Being the strictest certification level, Tier 4 data centers offer the highest redundancy standards, levels of availability, and least amount of hours of interruption per year.  Leading the data center industry, Luxembourg’s data protection standards are among the highest in the world due to the stringent service and technical performance levels required.
  • Access: Dennemeyer is ISO 9001:2015 certified. Our focus is to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the data that comprises your IP portfolios. We take the protection of your information seriously and have robust systems in place to manage and address risks that threaten data.
  • Data in Motion: We also minimize risk and maximize security through our Virtual Private Network. Offering a secure connection in which all network traffic is encrypted is a matter of course.

Although this list isn’t exhaustive, Dennemeyer operates a resilient, high security, and high-availability architecture through certified procedures to ensure that service performance continues to meet client expectations. Due to the importance of the topic Dennemeyer will keep on publishing news and articles on data security and keep you informed.

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On February 18, our Polish office together with MARQUES organized workshops on Coexistence Agreements directed to people from industry as well as patent and trademark attorneys in Poland. The workshops took place in Warsaw in the Sheraton hotel. At the first part of the workshops, Ms. Monika Stępień and Joanna Kowalewska had a one-hour presentation outlining the most important things to take into consideration when drafting and negotiating coexistence agreements.

Afterwards, participants were divided into two groups representing two different companies interested in extending their current activity, but their peaceful existence in the European market was not possible without prior coexistence agreement conclusion. Although at the beginning it seemed impossible to reach an agreement in this regard, we are happy to inform that after a long and difficult discussion both groups managed to sign a coexistence agreement satisfactory for both sides.

We received positive feedback from participants who especially appreciated the possibility to actively participate in the discussion. Read more about the workshop on MARQUES’ newsletter.

On February 18, our Polish office together with MARQUES organized workshops on Coexistence Agreements directed to people from industry as well as patent and trademark attorneys in Poland. The workshops took place in Warsaw in the Sheraton hotel. At the first part of the workshops, Ms. Monika Stępień and Joanna Kowalewska had a one-hour presentation outlining the most important things to take into consideration when drafting and negotiating coexistence agreements.

Afterwards, participants were divided into two groups representing two different companies interested in extending their current activity, but their peaceful existence in the European market was not possible without prior coexistence agreement conclusion. Although at the beginning it seemed impossible to reach an agreement in this regard, we are happy to inform that after a long and difficult discussion both groups managed to sign a coexistence agreement satisfactory for both sides.

We received positive feedback from participants who especially appreciated the possibility to actively participate in the discussion. Read more about the workshop on MARQUES’ newsletter.

English Read more

The European Community Trademark Law has recently undergone extensive changes to its underlying provisions, namely the EU Trademark Regulation and the corresponding EU Trademark Directive. The new legislation enters into force on 23 March 2016.

Besides renaming OHIM to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Community trade mark to the European Union trade mark, a major impact of these legal reforms will be the scope of protection of CTMs applied for the entire class headings of goods and services.

Trademarks falling into the following cumulative categories will be affected:

  • CTMs filed before 22 June 2012 and registered before 23 March 2016
  • CTMs claiming protection of entire class headings according  to the Nice Edition applicable at the time of  the filing date

All previous Editions of the Nice Classification can be found on the WIPO website. In order to avoid inadequate scope of protection, the owners of the above categorized trademarks have been given a possibility to file a declaration to the Office by 24 September 2016, specifying the exact goods and services intended to be covered by that application.

If no Declaration is filed before the deadline, those trademarks will be deemed to cover only the goods and services described in the literal meaning of the class heading.

Example: A trademark registered with the heading of class 45 “Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. (Nice 10th edition), will not be protected anymore for “translation services”, also belonging to the alphabetical list of that class, unless explicitly specified.

Should you need assistance, our trademark attorneys at Dennemeyer & Associates remain available to assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at: info(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

The European Community Trademark Law has recently undergone extensive changes to its underlying provisions, namely the EU Trademark Regulation and the corresponding EU Trademark Directive. The new legislation enters into force on 23 March 2016.

Besides renaming OHIM to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Community trade mark to the European Union trade mark, a major impact of these legal reforms will be the scope of protection of CTMs applied for the entire class headings of goods and services.

Trademarks falling into the following cumulative categories will be affected:

  • CTMs filed before 22 June 2012 and registered before 23 March 2016
  • CTMs claiming protection of entire class headings according  to the Nice Edition applicable at the time of  the filing date

All previous Editions of the Nice Classification can be found on the WIPO website. In order to avoid inadequate scope of protection, the owners of the above categorized trademarks have been given a possibility to file a declaration to the Office by 24 September 2016, specifying the exact goods and services intended to be covered by that application.

If no Declaration is filed before the deadline, those trademarks will be deemed to cover only the goods and services described in the literal meaning of the class heading.

Example: A trademark registered with the heading of class 45 “Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. (Nice 10th edition), will not be protected anymore for “translation services”, also belonging to the alphabetical list of that class, unless explicitly specified.

Should you need assistance, our trademark attorneys at Dennemeyer & Associates remain available to assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at: info(at)dennemeyer-law(dot)com.

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Do you know the costs of publishing a European patent validation in Morocco? Since the beginning of March 2015, European patents can be validated in Morocco according to the agreement between the European Patent Organisation and the government of the Kingdom of Morocco. On February 5th 2015 the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Office Marocain de la Propriété Industrielle et Commerciale (OMPIC) have agreed to fix the validation fee for Morocco at EUR 240. But the exact fees for the publication of a validation have not been published by the EPO until now.

As leading provider of professional services and solutions for the IP sector, Dennemeyer has found out the publication fee prior to its official publication. In short: The OMPIC has indicated that publication fee for a European application or patent will be 1200 Moroccan Dirham - which equals 110.56 Euro (18.02.2016). “This information enables us to provide our clients with full transparency on official fees regarding the validation of European Patents in Morocco,” states Dr. Robert Fichter, Director of Dennemeyer & Associates. “And cost transparency is a matter that has become more and more important as clients are not willing to accept any hidden fees in the global management of their Intellectual Property any more.”

The system for validating patents can be used by European applicants to streamline filing processes globally and generate efficiency gains in other areas. Translation costs may be significantly high in countries requiring an intermediary translation into English of the patent specification and claims. Under the validation route, translation costs would partially be covered before the grant of the European patent (in response to Rule 71[3] EPC). For example, Morocco accepts the French translation of the claims only. A full translation of the specification in English or French is required in Tunisia. A translation of the claims into English and Khmer is sufficient in Cambodia. 

For more details download the complete OMPIC fee structure or check the information about European patent validations in Morocco on the EPO web site

Do you know the costs of publishing a European patent validation in Morocco? Since the beginning of March 2015, European patents can be validated in Morocco according to the agreement between the European Patent Organisation and the government of the Kingdom of Morocco. On February 5th 2015 the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Office Marocain de la Propriété Industrielle et Commerciale (OMPIC) have agreed to fix the validation fee for Morocco at EUR 240. But the exact fees for the publication of a validation have not been published by the EPO until now.

As leading provider of professional services and solutions for the IP sector, Dennemeyer has found out the publication fee prior to its official publication. In short: The OMPIC has indicated that publication fee for a European application or patent will be 1200 Moroccan Dirham - which equals 110.56 Euro (18.02.2016). “This information enables us to provide our clients with full transparency on official fees regarding the validation of European Patents in Morocco,” states Dr. Robert Fichter, Director of Dennemeyer & Associates. “And cost transparency is a matter that has become more and more important as clients are not willing to accept any hidden fees in the global management of their Intellectual Property any more.”

The system for validating patents can be used by European applicants to streamline filing processes globally and generate efficiency gains in other areas. Translation costs may be significantly high in countries requiring an intermediary translation into English of the patent specification and claims. Under the validation route, translation costs would partially be covered before the grant of the European patent (in response to Rule 71[3] EPC). For example, Morocco accepts the French translation of the claims only. A full translation of the specification in English or French is required in Tunisia. A translation of the claims into English and Khmer is sufficient in Cambodia. 

For more details download the complete OMPIC fee structure or check the information about European patent validations in Morocco on the EPO web site

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As a result of the Iran nuclear deal signed last year, economic sanctions on the Middle-Eastern country have been lifted on January 16, 2016. Governmental authorities and industry organizations were quick to welcome this step in opening up the Iranian economy to international trade and investment. For example, the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and the European-Iranian Business Alliance released statements expressing their hope that business relations with Iran will be flourishing again in the future.

With the start of a hopefully new and long-lasting period of good business relations with Iran, exporting companies should start rethinking about their intellectual property strategy for the Iranian market. The first question is of course which protective IP rights are available in Iran. Actually, Iran is a member of the Paris Convention and a contracting state of all major treaties administered by WIPO, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol (click here for an overview).

We at Dennemeyer have a long-standing relationship with our colleagues in Iran. Furthermore, we have experienced that centralized formalities procedures, especially with regards to notarization, can help clients move forward their IP projects almost everywhere and in fact in Iran. During the sanctions, we helped clients, some of them U.S.-based, with filing and prosecuting intellectual property rights in Iran including patents concerning the oil and gas industry. With these recent developments in mind, we are looking forward to playing our part in normalizing the economic relations with Iran, with our focus being of course the field of Intellectual Property.

As a result of the Iran nuclear deal signed last year, economic sanctions on the Middle-Eastern country have been lifted on January 16, 2016. Governmental authorities and industry organizations were quick to welcome this step in opening up the Iranian economy to international trade and investment. For example, the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and the European-Iranian Business Alliance released statements expressing their hope that business relations with Iran will be flourishing again in the future.

With the start of a hopefully new and long-lasting period of good business relations with Iran, exporting companies should start rethinking about their intellectual property strategy for the Iranian market. The first question is of course which protective IP rights are available in Iran. Actually, Iran is a member of the Paris Convention and a contracting state of all major treaties administered by WIPO, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol (click here for an overview).

We at Dennemeyer have a long-standing relationship with our colleagues in Iran. Furthermore, we have experienced that centralized formalities procedures, especially with regards to notarization, can help clients move forward their IP projects almost everywhere and in fact in Iran. During the sanctions, we helped clients, some of them U.S.-based, with filing and prosecuting intellectual property rights in Iran including patents concerning the oil and gas industry. With these recent developments in mind, we are looking forward to playing our part in normalizing the economic relations with Iran, with our focus being of course the field of Intellectual Property.

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In December 2015 we pledged to donate 1 euro for every correct answer submitted in our IP Quiz. Thanks to the overwhelming response we received from players, we have made a donation totaling 15,427 euros to the German office of Doctors Without Borders.

The donated amount was handed over on January 12, in the presence of Dr. Reinhold Nowak, CEO of Dennemeyer IP Solutions, and Dr. Robert Fichter, director of Dennemeyer & Associates. Doctors Without Borders was represented by Andrea Stegmeir, who shared with us her first-hand experience helping those in need in Angola.

 

Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian organisation providing assistance to vulnerable communities, victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. Every year Doctors Without Borders sends around 2,700 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators and other professionals to work alongside approximately 31,000 locally hired staff. Together they run medical projects in more than 60 countries around the world.

The organisation spent 858 million euros on humanitarian activities in 2014; performing over 8 million outpatient consultations, aiding over 217 thousand severely malnourished children, and performing over 81,000 major surgical interventions.  Visit the organization’s web site to find out more about them and their areas of impact.

According to the organization’s records, the amount donated can be used for:

  • treating up to 7,500 children with meningitis, or
  • caring for up to 550 patients suffering for tuberculosis, or
  • supplying up to 150 HIV/AIDS patients with antiretroviral drugs for a year, or
  • vaccinating over 12,000 people against measles.

We are truly overwhelmed by the amazing response we received from our fellow industry professionals, and would like to thank everybody who played the IP Quiz over December.

In December 2015 we pledged to donate 1 euro for every correct answer submitted in our IP Quiz. Thanks to the overwhelming response we received from players, we have made a donation totaling 15,427 euros to the German office of Doctors Without Borders.

The donated amount was handed over on January 12, in the presence of Dr. Reinhold Nowak, CEO of Dennemeyer IP Solutions, and Dr. Robert Fichter, director of Dennemeyer & Associates. Doctors Without Borders was represented by Andrea Stegmeir, who shared with us her first-hand experience helping those in need in Angola.

 

Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian organisation providing assistance to vulnerable communities, victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. Every year Doctors Without Borders sends around 2,700 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators and other professionals to work alongside approximately 31,000 locally hired staff. Together they run medical projects in more than 60 countries around the world.

The organisation spent 858 million euros on humanitarian activities in 2014; performing over 8 million outpatient consultations, aiding over 217 thousand severely malnourished children, and performing over 81,000 major surgical interventions.  Visit the organization’s web site to find out more about them and their areas of impact.

According to the organization’s records, the amount donated can be used for:

  • treating up to 7,500 children with meningitis, or
  • caring for up to 550 patients suffering for tuberculosis, or
  • supplying up to 150 HIV/AIDS patients with antiretroviral drugs for a year, or
  • vaccinating over 12,000 people against measles.

We are truly overwhelmed by the amazing response we received from our fellow industry professionals, and would like to thank everybody who played the IP Quiz over December.

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Trade marks frequently rank among a company’s most valuable assets. Marks operate as source identifiers by distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of another, while facilitating consumers’ purchasing decisions. Despite trade marks serving as an essential component of a company’s corporate arsenal, even the most seasoned executives, lawyers and marketing officers can be susceptible to several common myths and misconceptions regarding US trade mark law and practice. Below are 12 costly and commonly shared trade mark misunderstandings.

1. All trade marks are created equal

Not all trade marks are created equal. To evaluate the strength of a proposed mark, it is critical to understand that trade marks are viewed within a spectrum of distinctiveness. Ranging from generic to arbitrary or fanciful, a mark’s scope of protection is categorised along a vibrant continuum. Ranging from unprotectable to highly distinctive, the level of descriptiveness or distinctiveness may be appraised by examining the mark in  relation to the goods or services offered in connection with that designation. A trade mark may be compartmentalised into four main categories: generic, descriptive, suggestive or arbitrary/fanciful.

A) Generic: On one end of the distinctiveness spectrum, generic terms are common words that name goods or services; these are incapable of functioning as trade marks. Registration of a generic term would prevent others from rightfully utilising the common word and serve no source identification function.

B) Descriptive: Moving up the band, a mark is considered merely descriptive if the primary significance of the term immediately describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, feature, function or purpose of the specifically delineated goods or services. Although adopting a descriptive mark simplifies marketing efforts by conveying features of the product or service to the purchaser, it also presents hurdles at both the registration and enforcement stages. Common examples of descriptive marks include Arthriticare (for arthritis medication), Car Freshener (for car deodoriser), and World Book (for encyclopedias).

C) Suggestive: Suggestive trade marks indirectly refer to the goods or services with which they are associated. The mark requires an intellectual leap, imagination, thought or perception in order for the consumer to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the goods or services. For example, Coppertone (for tanning lotion) and Chicken Of The Sea (for tuna) are considered suggestive marks. Traditionally, marketing professionals prefer suggestive marks due to their inherent ability to evoke ideas in the minds of consumers, suggesting the nature of the goods or services offered. By subconsciously linking a mark to a product or service, this approach enhances brand awareness while reducing costs associated with marketing campaigns. However, a fine line separates descriptive and suggestive trade marks. What a marketer may deem suggestive, the examining attorney may find descriptive.

D) Arbitrary or fanciful: Finally, arbitrary or fanciful marks are afforded the broadest scope of protection. An arbitrary mark is a word that exists but has no meaning when used on the product itself, whereas a fanciful mark is a word not recognised by the dictionary. For instance, the marks Pepsi and Exxon are deemed fanciful because they have no meaning or common usage. Alternatively, Apple used in connection with computers is considered an arbitrary mark because it is a known term used in an uncommon fashion.

2. Searched the USPTO and no one has registered the mark – let’s move forward.

Merely performing a quick search for the proposed mark on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Electronic Search System is insufficient to determine whether the trade mark is available.

For instance, other companies may own common law rights that compromise the value and availability of a trade mark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark in commerce even absent federal registration. Although federal registration affords additional rights that are unavailable under the common law scheme, rights still develop without registration. These limited rights are cabined to the geographic area in which the mark is used. Within that specific territory, rights are based on the priority of use of a mark. Occasionally, a federal registrant may not be the first user of a trade mark in a specific territory; therefore, an unregistered prior user may enjoy superior rights. Thus, when applying for a trade mark, even a company with common law rights may file an opposition based on first use in commerce.

Further, if the USPTO has deemed a trade mark cancelled or abandoned, that designation does not ensure that your agency may use the mark without complications. A mark may be deemed cancelled or abandoned for a bundle of reasons. As stated above, trade mark rights continue at the common law level if a company continues to employ their mark in commerce. Marketers should not take the USPTO’s designation that a mark is cancelled or abandoned as absolute without investigating the actual use of the mark in commerce.

The USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System is only one tool used to determine the registrability of a proposed mark. Whether you hire a trade mark attorney or purchase a professional clearance search, multiple considerations must be made when determining a mark’s registrability. There are many sources in addition to the USPTO, such as common law sources, state trade mark registries and industry publications.

This article originally appeared in Managing Intellectual Property, December 2015 / January 2016. Read the full article as PDF.

Trade marks frequently rank among a company’s most valuable assets. Marks operate as source identifiers by distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of another, while facilitating consumers’ purchasing decisions. Despite trade marks serving as an essential component of a company’s corporate arsenal, even the most seasoned executives, lawyers and marketing officers can be susceptible to several common myths and misconceptions regarding US trade mark law and practice. Below are 12 costly and commonly shared trade mark misunderstandings.

1. All trade marks are created equal

Not all trade marks are created equal. To evaluate the strength of a proposed mark, it is critical to understand that trade marks are viewed within a spectrum of distinctiveness. Ranging from generic to arbitrary or fanciful, a mark’s scope of protection is categorised along a vibrant continuum. Ranging from unprotectable to highly distinctive, the level of descriptiveness or distinctiveness may be appraised by examining the mark in  relation to the goods or services offered in connection with that designation. A trade mark may be compartmentalised into four main categories: generic, descriptive, suggestive or arbitrary/fanciful.

A) Generic: On one end of the distinctiveness spectrum, generic terms are common words that name goods or services; these are incapable of functioning as trade marks. Registration of a generic term would prevent others from rightfully utilising the common word and serve no source identification function.

B) Descriptive: Moving up the band, a mark is considered merely descriptive if the primary significance of the term immediately describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, feature, function or purpose of the specifically delineated goods or services. Although adopting a descriptive mark simplifies marketing efforts by conveying features of the product or service to the purchaser, it also presents hurdles at both the registration and enforcement stages. Common examples of descriptive marks include Arthriticare (for arthritis medication), Car Freshener (for car deodoriser), and World Book (for encyclopedias).

C) Suggestive: Suggestive trade marks indirectly refer to the goods or services with which they are associated. The mark requires an intellectual leap, imagination, thought or perception in order for the consumer to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the goods or services. For example, Coppertone (for tanning lotion) and Chicken Of The Sea (for tuna) are considered suggestive marks. Traditionally, marketing professionals prefer suggestive marks due to their inherent ability to evoke ideas in the minds of consumers, suggesting the nature of the goods or services offered. By subconsciously linking a mark to a product or service, this approach enhances brand awareness while reducing costs associated with marketing campaigns. However, a fine line separates descriptive and suggestive trade marks. What a marketer may deem suggestive, the examining attorney may find descriptive.

D) Arbitrary or fanciful: Finally, arbitrary or fanciful marks are afforded the broadest scope of protection. An arbitrary mark is a word that exists but has no meaning when used on the product itself, whereas a fanciful mark is a word not recognised by the dictionary. For instance, the marks Pepsi and Exxon are deemed fanciful because they have no meaning or common usage. Alternatively, Apple used in connection with computers is considered an arbitrary mark because it is a known term used in an uncommon fashion.

2. Searched the USPTO and no one has registered the mark – let’s move forward.

Merely performing a quick search for the proposed mark on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Electronic Search System is insufficient to determine whether the trade mark is available.

For instance, other companies may own common law rights that compromise the value and availability of a trade mark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark in commerce even absent federal registration. Although federal registration affords additional rights that are unavailable under the common law scheme, rights still develop without registration. These limited rights are cabined to the geographic area in which the mark is used. Within that specific territory, rights are based on the priority of use of a mark. Occasionally, a federal registrant may not be the first user of a trade mark in a specific territory; therefore, an unregistered prior user may enjoy superior rights. Thus, when applying for a trade mark, even a company with common law rights may file an opposition based on first use in commerce.

Further, if the USPTO has deemed a trade mark cancelled or abandoned, that designation does not ensure that your agency may use the mark without complications. A mark may be deemed cancelled or abandoned for a bundle of reasons. As stated above, trade mark rights continue at the common law level if a company continues to employ their mark in commerce. Marketers should not take the USPTO’s designation that a mark is cancelled or abandoned as absolute without investigating the actual use of the mark in commerce.

The USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System is only one tool used to determine the registrability of a proposed mark. Whether you hire a trade mark attorney or purchase a professional clearance search, multiple considerations must be made when determining a mark’s registrability. There are many sources in addition to the USPTO, such as common law sources, state trade mark registries and industry publications.

This article originally appeared in Managing Intellectual Property, December 2015 / January 2016. Read the full article as PDF.

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Chicago, IL USA DATE- Daniel Gurfinkel, an attorney registered to practice before the US Patent and trademark office and a Principal in the Chicago office of the law firm of Dennemeyer & Associates, LLC, has been appointed as an adjunct professor in the faculty of the John Marshall Law School’s Center for Intellectual Property.

The John Marshall Law School is located in Chicago’s financial district. John Marshall’s Center for Intellectual Property has led the way since 1940 and is one of the nation’s leading IP programs.

“I look forward to joining the John Marshall patent clinic to help inventors who otherwise could not participate in this process bring their ideas to the patent office”, said Daniel Gurfinkel.

About Dennemeyer & Associates

Dennemeyer & Associates is a leading IP law firm with a genuine international span. We maintain six offices in five European countries (Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Romania, Croatia) and five further offices in non-European countries (United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Australia, Brazil). Our international team of patent and trademark attorneys is admitted to practice before the Patent and Trademark Offices of several additional European and non-European jurisdictions (e.g. France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, EU, EPO, and New Zealand).

As a well-reputed and reliable intellectual property partner for multinational corporations and small and medium sized companies across industries for more than 55 years, the jury has recognized our pan-European footprint and our ability to deliver accurate and top-tier legal services to our European and non-European clients.

Chicago, IL USA DATE- Daniel Gurfinkel, an attorney registered to practice before the US Patent and trademark office and a Principal in the Chicago office of the law firm of Dennemeyer & Associates, LLC, has been appointed as an adjunct professor in the faculty of the John Marshall Law School’s Center for Intellectual Property.

The John Marshall Law School is located in Chicago’s financial district. John Marshall’s Center for Intellectual Property has led the way since 1940 and is one of the nation’s leading IP programs.

“I look forward to joining the John Marshall patent clinic to help inventors who otherwise could not participate in this process bring their ideas to the patent office”, said Daniel Gurfinkel.

About Dennemeyer & Associates

Dennemeyer & Associates is a leading IP law firm with a genuine international span. We maintain six offices in five European countries (Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Romania, Croatia) and five further offices in non-European countries (United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Australia, Brazil). Our international team of patent and trademark attorneys is admitted to practice before the Patent and Trademark Offices of several additional European and non-European jurisdictions (e.g. France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, EU, EPO, and New Zealand).

As a well-reputed and reliable intellectual property partner for multinational corporations and small and medium sized companies across industries for more than 55 years, the jury has recognized our pan-European footprint and our ability to deliver accurate and top-tier legal services to our European and non-European clients.

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