Mr Justice Hacon finds that procedures for applying for permission to appeal are not altered by the COVID-19 Protocol.

 By Oliver E. Browne

In Claydon v. Mzuri,[1] Mr Justice Hacon of the High Court has found that the COVID-19 Protocol does not alter the procedure for appeal applications if a decision is handed down remotely and the parties do not attend. Notably, the Judge clarified that the remote nature of the relevant hearings and the handing down of the trial judgment had no bearing on the proper approach to be followed in the context of seeking permission to appeal.

Owners of registered IP rights and pending IP applications in the EU‎ should carefully consider the complexities of the incoming regime.

By Deborah J. Kirk and Terese Saplys

On 28 September 2020, the UK government made the Intellectual Property (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (IP Regulations 2020), which amend the intellectual property (IP) regime in the UK to reflect Brexit-related changes once the transition period ends. The IP Regulations 2020 overlap somewhat complexly with existing UK and EU IP rights. In particular, exhaustion of rights principles seem to have fallen into a lacuna and as a result parallel importation from the UK into the EU may be significantly impacted. Owners of existing registered IP rights and pending IP applications under EU law should carefully consider the incoming legislation to inform their ongoing business operations.

The Court’s decision rested on whether the patents provided outstanding benefit to the employer’s undertaking. 

By Deborah J. Kirk and Catherine Marie Hughes

On 23 October, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) handed down its highly anticipated ruling in Shanks v Unilever [2019] UKSC 45 — the conclusion to an extensive campaign by Professor Shanks to obtain compensation for an invention he created in 1982, during the course of his employment with Unilever. The UKSC upheld Shanks’ appeal from the lower courts and in a unanimous decision ruled that Shanks was entitled to £2 million compensation from Unilever.

Section 40 of the Patents Act 1977 (the Act) makes provision for the payment of compensation to employee inventors in certain circumstances. Namely, where the employee makes an invention for which a patent has been granted and that patent is considered to be of outstanding benefit to the employer (taking into account things such as the size and nature of the employer’s undertaking), the court may award the employee compensation in the form of a fair share of the benefit received by the employer from the patents, with the amount determined under Section 41 of the Act.

Patent holders must prepare a patent strategy before the Unified Patent Court system takes effect.

By Deborah J. Kirk

On 26 April 2018, the UK government confirmed that the UK has now ratified the international agreement (the Agreement) to set up a Unified Patent Court for Europe (the UPC). Whilst the government promised this move in November 2016, the UK’s decision to leave the EU cast doubt on whether the UK would formally ratify the Agreement. The confirmation demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to continue to engage with European regulatory activity post-Brexit.

The UPC will allow patent holders to defend their rights with a single patent and single legal system across Europe, rendering patents less expensive and more readily enforceable throughout the EU, as opposed to the current procedure which requires patents to be registered and enforced on a country-by-country basis. The aim is to both enhance the European market, and to make the European market more competitive with the US and China in terms of patent protection. On the other hand, the unified system raises the risk of centralised revocation of a patent, which could have serious implications on high value patents.

By Deborah Kirk

The UK will ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement despite the Brexit vote, it was announced yesterday. It is unclear whether this marks the start of a long participation of the UK in this 40-years-in-the-making unifying change in patent law in Europe or whether Brexit will result in the UK exiting the new system almost as soon as it has signed up to it.

The unitary patent (UP), or “patent with unitary effect” is in the senior stages of adoption after four decades of preparation and negotiation. When introduced, UPs will protect an invention in all participating Member States of the EU in a uniform manner. UPs will be subject to the jurisdiction of a new Unitary Patent Court (UPC) whose judgments will be binding on participating states in so far as they apply to UPs under the Unitary Patent Court Agreement (UPCA).