Standardisation and patents: two new EC studies

The European Commission has published two studies on the interplay between standardisation and patents. The first study focuses on issues and solutions related to standard essential patents (SEPs) and the standardisation process. The second study provides statistical evidence on the importance of SEPs on key technologies in Europe. The results of the studies will be used to assess the interplay between standardisation and patents in the EU Single Market.

Further information is available here.


The second monitoring report on Horizon 2020

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation has published the second monitoring report on the activities, results and impacts of the Horizon 2020 funding programme.

The report provides an assessment of the calls closed in 2015 along with the updated data for 2014 calls, as well as aggregation for both years. The study underlines the most important issues related to performance as measured by the key performance indicators, implementation aspects and participation trends.

From the intellectual property aspect, the report includes preliminary statistics related to output of projects, in particular publications, patent applications and patent grants, although many of the projects have not yet produced large numbers of publications and patents as they are still in their very early phases.

Nevertheless, as preliminary findings, the report shows that there are 1760 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 109 patent applications and 29 awarded patents, which can be attributed to Horizon 2020 so far.

To read the full report, please click here.


UK to proceed with the preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement

The UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville Rolfe, has confirmed that the UK will continue with preparations for ratification over the coming months to bring the Unified Patent Court (UPC) into operation as soon as possible. She further added that “as for as long as we are members of the EU, the UK will continue to play a full and active role”.

Under the new Unitary Patent regime, businesses will be able to protect and enforce their patent rights across the EU (within 26 Member countries: except Spain and Croatia) with a single patent and through a single patent court. However, ratification of the agreement on the UPC is an obligatory step for the Unitary Patent system to enter into force, and the UPC agreement will need to be ratified by at least 13 states, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom to become effective. 

Following the recent Referendum on BREXIT, there were discussions regarding the UK’s decision on this process since the UK has not ratified the agreement yet - together with Germany. With this current statement, it is confirmed that the UK continues to take the necessary steps for the ratification proceedings.

Please click here for further reading on this topic.


JRC study on Patent Assertion Entities in Europe

Patent assertion is known as enforcement of a patent providing effective patent monetisation options for the patent owners from licensing activities. It has become a common practice in shaping the balance between technology creation and technology dissemination. Especially for the ICT sector, the importance of this practice has given rise to new entities that enforce patents but do not utilise the patented technology, commonly referred to as patent assertion entities (PAEs).

This study provides an overview of patent assertion practices and of patent assertion entities in Europe, taking into consideration their impact on innovation and technology transfer in European ICT markets.

The main objectives of the current study are:

  • providing a description of the different assertion strategies used by PAEs operating in Europe,
  • assessing how PAEs affect innovation and technology transfer in ICT in Europe,
  • drawing policy implications (at national or EU levels) of how innovation in ICT in Europe can be enhanced.

This report was prepared in the context of the three-year research project on European Innovation Policies for the Digital Shift (EURIPIDIS) jointly launched in 2013 by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and DG CONNECT of the European Commission.

You may read the full report here.


Commission notice on certain articles of the Biotech Directive

The European Commission has recently adopted a notice clarifying certain articles of Directive 98/44 on the protection of biotechnical inventions. The Directive focuses on patenting in the biotech industry. The notice states that products created through essential biological processes should be excluded from patentability. Furthermore, it calls for more analysis of compulsory cross-licensing between plant variety rights and patenting. The Commission also expands on how the Directive ensures that there is enough fair access to patented material of biological origin. Although a Commission Notice is not legally binding, its aim is to provide more clarity on the issue for the biotech, plant and animal breeding sectors.

The full text of the notice is available here.

WIPO develops cutting-edge translation tool for patent documents

World Intellectual Property Organization’s WIPO Translate tool now incorporates a ground-breaking neural machine translation technology which allows the rendering of highly technical patent documents into a second language with high level accuracy.

WIPO has initially “trained” the new technology to translate Chinese, Japanese and Korean patent documents into English covering some 55% of worldwide filings in 2014. Users can already try out the Chinese-English translation facility on the public beta test platform.WIPO is planning to extend the neural machine translation service to French-language patent applications, with other languages to follow.

Chinese-English translation is the result of the training of the neural machine translation tool, which compared 60 million sentences from Chinese patent documents provided to WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE database, which provides access to international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in full text format as well as to patent documents of participating national and regional patent offices. The database contains some 58 million records.

More information about this new translation tool is available here.


European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin Issue (23)

We are pleased to inform you that Issue 23 of the European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin has been published and is now available online.

This Bulletin issue is largely dedicated to patents as competitive tools providing exclusive rights that may be crucial also for SMEs to prosper in a challenging, risky and dynamic business climate.

An article from WIPO explains the different routes to patent protection and highlights the value of patents for businesses.

This issue also outlines the point of view of a German SME regarding patents with an interview revealing how it makes use of effective patent strategies based on real experiences.

Our interview with Prof. Dr. Güven Yalçıntaş illustrates the crucial role of IP commercialisation for companies and universities.

As always, the Bulletin reports information about past IPR events together with some fresh news on the Helpline service. In addition, it contains the usual patent quiz.

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Nominate outstanding inventors for the European Inventor Award by 12 October

The 11th annual European Inventor Award, organised by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Lisbon last June, was a wonderful celebration of innovation. This short film summarises the emotion of the trophy ceremony and the purpose of the Award. The 12th edition of the Award will be held in Venice next June.

The fifteen finalists are excellent ambassadors not just for innovation but for the patent system as a whole. In each of their films they explain their inventions as well as the benefits to society and the economy, frequently mentioning the role patents play in their business models. The Award reflects well on the patent system and IP profession as a whole, and particularly on those working with inventors to monetise or enforce their patents.

Therefore we encourage you to consider which of the inventors you know might meet the EPO’s high criteria for developing inventions of great social and/or economic benefit, and which have been granted European patents (at least one still in force). The application procedure is simple and can be made online. With competition fierce (over 400 proposals last year for just 15 places!) we would suggest you submit suggestions before the 12 October deadline.


Two updated training modules from the European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO) has updated two modules in its e-learning centre on “patentability of computer-implemented inventions” and “biotechnological inventions”.

The new modules have been restructured according to the recent developments in both areas and with respect to the current EPO practices.

With this latest update, the module on “patentability of computer-implemented inventions” covers patentable and non-patentable subject-matter and examination of such inventions together with case law examples.

The module on “biotechnological inventions” focuses on specific patentability criteria of biotechnological inventions.

Please click here to access the EPO’s extensive collection of e-learning modules ranging from patents searching to IP in business.