Who owns the news?

For those who didn’t make it to last week’s IPRIA / CMCL /MBS Cite seminar, the organisers have helpfully posted the videos and some of the slides.

Of course, from a purely legalistic point of view, the copyright owner owns at least his/her/its “expression” of the news and, as the various attempts to set up pay-walls and the like expose, website owners can “block” Google/Bing’s spiders and linking if they really, really want to (see Danny Sullivan via here).

Over at Techcrunch, John Biggs speculates that paywalls and the era of micro-payments are coming. Meanwhile, the Guardian appears to be making a bid to become the blogosphere’s source of reported news (lid dip, @lods1211) which might be thought of as an application of Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do?

Now, I’m all in favour of News Corp trying to put the lid on linking to its websites and the Guardian taking a different strategy. Afterall, that might be thought the essence of competition. More generally, however, do we really want to develop some additional legal protection that makes linking (when it is not technologically blocked) some sort of infringement?

Wouldn’t that mean “Bye bye world wide web” (as we know and use it)?

Misusing a patentee’s market power

The Court of General Instance (formerly (?) the EU’s CFI) has upheld the European Commission’s ruling that AstraZeneca abused its dominant position in the market by practices designed to block or delay generic drugs competing with Losec from entering the market.

The abusive practices were:

  1. submitting deliberately misleading statements to patent agents, national patent offices and national courts in order to acquire or preserve supplementary protections certificates for omeprazole to which AstraZeneca was not entitled or to which it was entitled for a shorter duration; and
  2. requesting (and obtaining) the withdrawal of regulatory marketing authorisations for Losec capsules and replacing those marketing authorisations with marketing authorisations for Losec MUPS tablets.

The result of the second practice was to delay entry on to the market of competing generic products as they could not use the abridged marketing approval process.

The Court did reduce, however, the fine from Euros 60 million to Euros 52.5 million.

The case concerned patents for omeprazole, the patent protection for which has generated some controversy in Australia.

Like the EU, Australian law does provide for supplementary protection certificates and there is the potential for abridged marketing approval processes for generics (pdf – e.g). Art. 82 of the Treaty also has some resemblance to s 46 of the TPA and, while we might think that the EU has a fairly idiosyncratic approach to determining market power, the Hoffman-La Roche ruling relied on by the Court of General Instance has been referred to with approval by the High Court in Australia.

Case T?321/05 AstraZeneca AB v Commission

which has been conveniently summarised by Linklaters and Gibson Dunn.

Now, we might think this is an application of the peculiar EU approach to