Plant breeder’s rights in the EU

The European Court of Justice has dismissed Ralf Schräder’s appeal from the rejection of its registration for plant breeder’s rights in plectranthus ornatus.

It would seem after detailed genetic testing, including travel to South Africa, the EU regulatory authorities have determined the variety the subject of the application is not distinct from a common South African plant.

IPKat has a good overview, with links to earlier stages in the dispute, here.

Case C?38/09 P Ralf Schräder v Community Plant Variety Office

Resale royalty right in the EU

In a dispute over which of Salvador Dali’s heirs is entitled to the benefits of the Community Resale Royalty, the ECJ has ruled that this is a matter for national law.

The 1709 blog has a short report here; IPKat waxes lyrical here.

Case C?518/08, Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí and Visual Entidad de Gestión de Artistas Plásticos (VEGAP) v Société des auteurs dans les arts graphiques et plastiques (ADAGP)

CAL was recently appointed to administer the absolutely inalienable artist’s resale royalty scheme under the Australian Act, Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Act 2009 (Cth), and Minister Garrett has announced that the scheme will come into force on 9 June 2010.

Section 15 of our Act will specify who the heirs can be – the person or person who satisfy “the succession test”:

Succession test
(1)  An entity satisfies the succession test in relation to resale royalty right on the commercial resale of an artistic work, if the entity satisfies:
(a)  criteria 1 and 2 (in subsections (2) and (3)); or
(b)  criteria 3 and 4 (in subsections (4) and (5)).
Criterion 1
(2)  The entity received its interest in the right by testamentary disposition, or in accordance with the rules of intestate succession, on the death of an individual.
Criterion 2
(3)  The entity is one of the following:
(a)  an individual with a beneficial interest in the right;
(b)  a charity or charitable institution with a beneficial interest in the right;
(c)  a community body with a beneficial interest in the right;
(d)  a person who holds an interest in the right in trust for:
(i)  an individual; or
(ii)  a charity or charitable institution; or
(iii)  a community body.
Criterion 3
(4)  The entity received its interest in the right on the winding up of a charity, charitable institution or a community body.
Criterion 4
(5)  The entity is a charity, charitable institution or a community body formed for substantially the same purposes as the body that was wound up.

Google’s sale of ‘trademarked’ keywords does not infringe in EU

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the sale of ‘trademarked’ terms by Google as keyword triggers of advertising:

From IPKat reports. According to the IPKat, the rulings themselves:

1. Article 5(1)(a) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks and Article 9(1)(a) of Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a trade mark is entitled to prohibit an advertiser from advertising, on the basis of a keyword identical with that trade mark which that advertiser has, without the consent of the proprietor, selected in connection with an internet referencing service, goods or services identical with those for which that mark is registered, in the case where that advertisement does not enable an average internet user, or enables that user only with difficulty, to ascertain whether the goods or services referred to therein originate from the proprietor of the trade mark or an undertaking economically connected to it or, on the contrary, originate from a third party.
2. An internet referencing service provider which stores, as a keyword, a sign identical with a trade mark and organises the display of advertisements on the basis of that keyword does not use that sign within the meaning of Article 5(1) and (2) of Directive 89/104 or of Article 9(1) of Regulation No 40/94.
3. Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that the rule laid down therein applies to an internet referencing service provider in the case where that service provider has not played an active role of such a kind as to give it knowledge of, or control over, the data stored. If it has not played such a role, that service provider cannot be held liable for the data which it has stored at the request of an advertiser, unless, having obtained knowledge of the unlawful nature of those data or of that advertiser’s activities, it failed to act expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the data concerned.

IPKat threatens more detailed consideration in a later post.

Prof. Goldman provides a thoughtful analysis from a US perspective here.

EU: patentability of stem cell

Greenpeace’s attempts to have “stem cell” patents of Oliver Brüstle revoked moves to the European Court of Justice: The Budnesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme Court) has referred to the ECJ several questions about the patentability of the use of stem cells to treat various neural diseases.

IPKat has details here, summarising the issues as :

The ECJ will now have to rule on the interpretation of “human embryo” in the sense of art. 6 Directive 98/44/EC. Is a stem cell derived from a blastocyst which has lost its ability to develop into a human still an embryo? If so, is a blastocyst a human embryo? If so, is purely therapeutic use of stem cells a “commercial or industrial purpose” in the sense of art. 6?

By way of comparison, section 18(2) of our Act baldly declares:

Human beings, and the biological processes for their generation, are not patentable inventions.

This provision was introduced at a late stage of the legislative process. Deputy Commissioner Herald had to try and work out its meaning in Fertilitescentrum AB and Luminis Pty Ltd’s Application [2004] APO 19 where he considered that:

36. It seems to me that of these three approaches, only the third approach provides a satisfactory interpretation of s.18(2). Accordingly, in my view the correct interpretation of s.18(2) is ascertained by recognising a human being as being in the process of generation (in either of the two ways I refer to in paragraph 31) from the time of the processes that create a fertilised ovum (or other processes that give rise to an equivalent entity) up until the time of birth.
37. The prohibition of `human beings’ in my view is a prohibition of patenting of any entity that might reasonably claim the status of a human being. Clearly a person that has been born is covered by this exclusion. But to the extent that there is a process of generation of a human being that lasts from fertilisation to birth, I consider that a fertilised ovum and all its subsequent manifestations are covered by this exclusion.

36. It seems to me that of these three approaches, only the third approach provides a satisfactory interpretation of s.18(2). Accordingly, in my view the correct interpretation of s.18(2) is ascertained by recognising a human being as being in the process of generation (in either of the two ways I refer to in paragraph 31) from the time of the processes that create a fertilised ovum (or other processes that give rise to an equivalent entity) up until the time of birth.

37. The prohibition of `human beings’ in my view is a prohibition of patenting of any entity that might reasonably claim the status of a human being. Clearly a person that has been born is covered by this exclusion. But to the extent that there is a process of generation of a human being that lasts from fertilisation to birth, I consider that a fertilised ovum and all its subsequent manifestations are covered by this exclusion.

In application of that ruling, the Examiner’s Manual indicates that the Commissioner’s policy with respect to stems cells is that:

it follows that human stem cells and human stem cell lines per se are patentable because these cells are not considered to be human beings or potential human beings within the meaning of s18(2).

ACTA coming a little bit more out of the shadows

Michael Geist has a link to the leaked EU comments on the chapter for third party liability on the internet – being drafted by the USA.

The Guardian has weighed into the debate.

Kim Weatherall has emerged from her self-imposed seclusion to comment here, here and here.

DFAT’s must recent summary and overview of key elements. Anondyne USTR statement.

Shape and colour trade marks

Julian Lee, in the Age yesterday, reported on the concerns of “marketers” about how hard Australian regulators are making it to register a shape as a trade mark, in the wake of:

  1. last month’s ruling by Sundberg J against Guylian’s sea-horse shaped chocolate; and
  2. the commencement of Nestle’s appeal against Aldi’s successful opposition to registration of the shape of a Kit Kat bar as a trade mark (BDW discussed the decision here, but the decision itself seems to be hiding on-line).

To digress for a moment from the “shape” issue – Mr Lee also reports that Cadbury and Darrell Lea have settled their long running litigation and Cadbury has secured registration of its trade mark for the colour purple.

Back to “shape” marks, you might have thought from the tenor of Mr Lee’s article that Australia is yet again embarking on anutochthonous experience, but it seems that the Europeans are playing hardball too; e.g. here and here.

Selected microblog posts w/e 30/8/09

Selected microblog posts from the past week:

  • Wyeth gets interloc. injunction in Australia against Alphapharm for alleged infringement of Efexor-XR patent:http://bit.ly/dvYwy
  • Kenny J also rejects a higher threshold for interlocutory injunctions in patent cases http://bit.ly/SQViX ; Beecham doesn’t rule.
  • Pros and Cons of Stand-Alone Non-Verbal Logos and Other Trademark Styles: A Legal Perspective : Duets Bloghttp://ff.im/-73bMH
  • RT @MegLG: Three Chocolate Companies Run Three Different Ways when it comes to TMs http://ow.ly/l2kyProperty, Intangible via @RonColeman

Unfair competition in EU

According to the IPKat, the ECJ has introduced an EU-wide law of unfair competition/tarnishment for registered trade marks in L’Oreal v Bellure.

Read more

Microsoft, the EU, Internet Explorer and tying again

On 15 January 2009, the European Commission commenced new proceedings against Microsoft alleging that Microsoft was abusing its dominant position in the market by tying Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system:

According to the Commission:

The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world’s PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match. The Commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer creates artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites or software primarily for Internet Explorer which ultimately risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers.

Apparently, Microsoft has 8 weeks to reply.

Microsoft’s initial press release notes that the Statement of Objections served by the Commission specifically states that the US settlement with the DOJ in 2002 (Wikipedia here) does not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under EU law.  Other than that it is fairly bland, as you would expect, stating that “We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law.”

Read the Commission’s Press Release. Read Microsoft’s here or here.