net cost to Australian IP professionals is $2.5 million (unchanged)
net cost to the Australian Government is $2.8 million (unchanged).
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the report is an analysis of all infringement court cases involving patents, trade marks or registered designs since 2008:
Rate of infringement cases by registered IPR
There have been far less design infringement cases but, having regard to the number of registered designs, litigation is in approximately the same proportion as trade mark infringement cases, but approximately only one third the rate of patent litigation.
Another surprising aspect: the New Zealand Intellectual Property Association also made submissions – which appear to have been rather influential – which strongly opposed Australia joining the Hague system.
Finally, the report is at pains to say that the costs benefit analysis of joining Hague is only one factor being considered. Anyone want to put money on Australia joining (before we sign up to anothere one-way trade agreement with, this time, the EU)?
The report gets a bit over-excited by the high proportion of certified designs which get litigated – well, duh! ?
In addition to reporting on a range of statistics and some commentary, the report includes a number of “interactive” graphs that you may explore. Much, if not all, of the data is available through the Government Open Data initiative.
The headline point is that applications for trade marks and plant breeder’s rights increased over 2013, while applications for patents and registered designs decreased. The report attributes the decline in patent applications to the increased threshold arising from the commencement of most of the substantive reforms in the Raising the Bar and the rush to file before their commencement.
Australians are the largest source of filings for trade mark, registered designs and pbr. US-based applicants the largest source of patent applications; Australian residents being the second largest.
There were 25,947 applications for standard patents in 2014, a decrease of 13% on 2013. 19,034 standard patents were granted; an increase of 13% over 2013. Over 94% were granted to non-residents. The average number of months from filing to request for examination fell from 16.3 to 13.6 months; the average time from request to first report is just over 9 month and, on average, the time from first examination report to acceptance was a further 14 months. Australians filed 9,012 patent applications abroad in 2013 (41% in the USA), up 3% on 2012.
There were 1523 applications for innovation patents, down from 1676 in 2013. Australians accounted for 66% of the filings.
There were 64,381 trade mark applications filed in Australia in 2014, up 2% from 2013; correspondingly, Australians filed 16,267 applications overseas (in 2013). The top 3 filing destinations were the USA, China and NZ – accounting for 50%. The USA supplanted China as the “top destination”. Apparently, this is in line with a global trend.
6550 designs were registered in 2014, and 1452 were certified – almost double the number certified in 2013. IP Australia speculates that there are few applications to register designs because:
According to Lim et al (2014) the role of IP rights in the market for designs is limited.9 Buyers and sellers in the market view designs as a service that is co-created. As IP rights protect the artefact, not the service, IP rights are perceived as a secondary issue in the marketplace. This view of design rights provides insights into the low volume of design registrations relative to patents and trade marks.
The number of applications for plant breeder’s rights skyrocketed from 330 in 2013 to 341!
The report notes that IP Australia is aiming in 2015 to complete research projects into innovation trends in the mining industry, who and in which areas in the textile, clothing and footwear industry is filing patents and the role of geographical indicators.
Seafolly is in the news again: this time as the winner. In her last decision before retiring, Dodds-Streeton J has ordered that City Beach pay Seafolly $250,333.06 by way of damages for infringing copyright in 3 Seafolly designs: the English Rose artwork, the Covent Garden artwork and the Senorita artwork.
The English Rose artwork and the Covent Garden artwork were both patterns or ornamentation printed on the fabric. The Senorita artwork, however, was in effect stitched on to the garment using shirring and smocking. Dodds-Streeton J, however, rejected City Beach’s defence based on sections 74 and 77 of the Copyright Act. Apart from all the other issues, her Honour’s application of the Full Court’s decision in the Polo/Lauren case struck me as particularly important.
Seafolly’s Senorita artwork:
City Beach’s Richelle embroidery:
The subsistence point
As you can see, the Senorita design is pretty simple in appearance. City Beach’s argument was that this simple design was the more or less inevitable outcome of using the type of industrial sewing machine used to produce it. According to the evidence, however, it involved significant trial and error to produce because smocking fabric was very difficult to work with, smocking did not always involve using triangles or diagonals and City Beach’s expert conceded “there was a huge array of different ‘cams’ which could produce an almost indefinite variety of patterns.” Her Honour rejected City Beach’s attack, therefore:
416 …. the Senorita embroidery was not the inevitable outcome of the operation of an industrial sewing machine. Nor was the work so rudimentary and simple as to be unprotectable because, in essence, there was no meaningful distinction between the subject matter and the form of expression.
The use of the sewing machines, therefore, appears to involve use of the machine to implement the human idea more in the vein of Coogi or a wordprocessor to record the text than as an automatically generated entity like the phone books in PDC. The second point made by her Honour seems to pick up the High Court’s point that the ordering of title and time of television program in chronological order did not involve sufficient creativity (or intellectual effort) to qualify as original.
The copyright/design overlap
City Beach’s defence based on the copyright/design overlap provisions failed also, because the Senorita design when sewn on to the bikinis was not a corresponding design.
When the Designs (Consequential Amendments) Act 2003 introduced the current form of s 74 and s 77, it was hoped that the old problems about whether something constituted a “design” and whether it had been “applied to” an article had been sidestepped. All that was necessary, was to identify an artistic work which had been embodied in the features of shape or configuration of the product. Rares J, at first instance in the Polo case adopted that too simplistic (as we now know) approach to find that the 700 or so stitches used to embroider the Polo logo on to a shirt qualified. This was set right by the Full Court on appeal.
Dodds-Streeton J acknowledged that the Full Court’s observations were obiter. Her Honour also acknowledged that the Full Court’s reasoning “is not consistently explicit, but must be inferred”. Her Honour considered that the Full Court’s reasons:
470 …. in substance indicate that it is the features of shape or configuration of an artwork (not a label on which the artwork is reproduced) that must be relevantly embodied in a product, which will occur when the product (in the present case, a garment) is made in the shape or configuration of the artwork.
Thus, the diamond pattern was not a corresponding design because, when stitched on to Seafolly’s bikinis, it did not define the shape or configuration of the bikini as a garment.
In reaching this conclusion, Dodds-Streeton J had to interpret the Full Court’s declaration at  that a design must be conceptually distinct from the product in which it was embodied to qualify as ‘embodied’ for the purposes of s 74. That created a problem in the present case as Dodds-Streeton J considered the stitching, or smocking, could not have existed independently of the garment:
473 It is true that, in contrast to the logo in Polo/Lauren itself, the reproduction of the Senorita artwork sewn on to the relevant garment may not retain a separate existence, as probably, it could not survive removal and is not conceptually distinct from the garment. Accordingly, if the Full Court’s observations in  represent the correct and comprehensive test, the Senorita artwork could be embodied within the meaning of s 74(1). As stated above, however, the comment at  does not comprehensively reflect the reasoning of the Full Court’s judgment.
I am not sure, with respect, why the Senorita design was any the less capable of independent existence than the Polo logo. I think the design could not have an independent existence because it was created by attaching the stitching to the shirring framestrings and there was presumably no drawing.
Dodds-Streeton J identified a further problem. It seems difficult, with respect, to reconcile the Full Court’s interpretation of s 74 with the clear legislative intent to capture woven tapestries, bas relief and “textured” carpets within the concept of corresponding design by the inclusion in s 74(2) of:
“embodied in , ” in relation to a product, includes woven into, impressed on or worked into the product.
According to Dodds-Streeton J:
480 Following the insertion of the words “woven into”, “impressed on” or “worked into” in s 74(2), it seems clear that features of shape or configuration of an artwork can be embodied in an article which is itself a piece of embroidery, a carpet, bas?relief or similar, by being woven or worked in. This was the qualification to the maintenance of the tradition [sic] position to which the Full Court referred at . The amendment to s 74(2) did not, however, apply to the circumstances of Polo/Lauren itself as the relevant product was a garment rather than a carpet, bas?relief or embroidery (although the design was applied or attached by means of embroidery or “weaving in”).
481 In the light of the Full Court’s emphasis that the position was otherwise unchanged, it would seem that it rejected Rares J’s analysis not simply or principally because the logo remained conceptually distinct from the garment, but because the garment was not made in the shape or configuration of the artistic work, irrespective of whether it was three dimensional.
It’s not clear why garments should be treated any differently to tapestries, carpets etc. I suppose a carpet could for example be woven in the shape of a (stylised) polo player or teddy bear or some other novelty shape thought to be appealing to someone out there in the wide world, but a tapesty? One might have thought (if one didn’t have the Full Court’sobiter dicta hanging over one) the legislature intended to catch all such woven, stitched or otherwise ‘applied’ artistic works from its intention to ensure that carpets, tapestries and the like be “clearly” brought in.
This is not to say that the alternative, literal approach to interpreting s 74 is not without its challenges. Dodds-Streeton J went on in dicta to consider that the Full Court really also disagreed with Rares J’s view that the embroidered stitching was sufficiently three-dimensional to qualify as features of shape or configuration.In any event:
486 … the surface of the garment onto which the smocking is sewn is not flat because the fabric is shirred. Any protrusion of the smocking from the surface is minimal and probably significantly less than that in Polo/Lauren itself, which on a fair reading of its judgment, the Full Court nevertheless thought insufficient.
So, there may well be questions of degree in how much three dimensional appearance is required before something qualifies as shape or configuration. That is, however, a problem which long challenged designs law.
Putting to one side, of course, all the fun and games of what may be a work of artistic craftsmanship for the purposes of s 77(1)(a) or the difference between “shape or configuration” and “pattern or ornamentation”. ?
The transitional period to register any securities (charges, mortgages etc.) you may have taken out over IP ( registered trade marks, patents, designs etc.) on the Personal Property Securities Register expires on 31 January 2014.
The Personal Properties Security Register is a national register of claims to security interests over personal property (which includes our imaginary subject matters) in essence to provide a one stop shop for notice about such claims.
If you (or your client) has taken out a security over someone else’ intellectual property or where the other person’s intellectual property is being used as collateral for repayment, the security should be registered on the Personal Property Securities Register. In very broad terms: if the security isn’t registered in the Personal Property Securities Register, its claim to priority over any later security or even enforceability could be lost.
IP Australia’s warning points out that it is not enough to have registered the security interest in a register of IP such as the Trade Marks Register, the Patents Register, the Register of Designs or the Register of PBR. These registrations will not be transferred automatically to the Personal Property Securities Register. Morever, registration of the security interest on one or more of those IP Registers will not take priority over a later registration on the Personal Property Securities Register.
So, if you or your client have taken out such a security and haven’t registered it in the Personal Property Securities Register yet, ‘hurry, hurry, hurry; quick, quick, quick’ (with apologies to Alexis Jordan).
Although IP Australia’s warning relates specifically to the registered IP it administers, the legislation also applies to unregistered IP such as copyright.
The fifth decision under the “new” Designs Act 2004 illustrates the operation of that old principle: in a crowded field, small differences may be enough to confer validity, but equally small differences in the accused products will be sufficient to avoid liability.
You will recall that LED Technologies successfully sued Elecspess (and others) for infringing LED’s registered designs for a dual lens lamp, ARD 302359, and a triple lens lamp, 302360 (links to those decisions via here). Well, LED fell out with its Chinese manufacturer, Valens, and found itself a new supplier. Valens, however, didn’t take things lying down and started supplying another of LED’s competitors, Baxter.
As in the earlier case, Baxter challenged the validity of the earlier design; this time arguing that the Statement of Newness and Distinctiveness was unclear and also relying on some different prior art.
The first objection failed. The perspective view for the two-lens design looks like this:
The Statement of Newness etc. etc. read:
Separate clip in lenses. Base to take a variety of 2, 3 or 4 combination of lenses for stop, tail, indicator, reverse LED lenses, no visible screws.
At , Finkelstein J accepted that the Statement of Newness etc. etc. could have been “better expressed”, but it sufficiently clear and succinct:
…. In my view the statement indicates clearly to the relevantly informed addressee (and probably to anyone familiar with the English language) that the base could be manufactured to take a number of lenses. Reference to “separate clip in lenses”, when read with the phrase “no visible screws”, indicates that the lenses clips in and are not held in place by screws. There is nothing relevantly uncertain contained in the statement.
There were important visual differences between LED’s designs and the closest prior art. For example, at :
the base of the Rubbolite lamps appeared to provide individual frames for each lens, which is not a feature of the registered designs. … the corners of the Rubbolite lens appeared sharper or squarer than the registered designs but said the difference was minor. … there was a noticeable ledge or lip around the lens (which he referred to as the “lens housing”) which was not shown on the registered designs. The ledge or lip around the lens on the Rubbolite lamps tapered inwards which made it substantially different in appearance when looked at from the side.
Hence, the registered designs were valid.
Unfortunately (for LED), before Valens started supplying Baxter, it had made some changes to the product. As a result, the products supplied to Baxter were not substantially similar in overall impression to the registered designs. Finkelstein J accepted  that there were similarities between the products imported by Baxter and the registered design. Many of them, however, “were common in the prior art”. Moreover:
 There are, to my mind, several important features that lead me to the conclusion that the Baxters lamps are not substantially similar in overall impression to the registered designs. The key features are the prominent cut out pattern on the underside of the designs, which is to be contrasted with the flat closed backs of the Baxters lamps, and the square lenses of the designs having a wide landing between them while the Baxters lights have no landing. Of less significance are the long sides of the frames of the registered designs which have raised edges resulting in a counter-sunk appearance, which is not present on the Baxters lamps. As well, the short sides of the frames of the registered designs are raised at their outer portions and dip down in the central portion, which is not a feature of Baxters’ design.
 Moreover, in my view, it is these features that distinguish the registered designs from the prior art such as to admit of the conclusion that the registered designs are new and distinctive.
Inducing breach of contract
An interesting twist to this case, was that LED also tried to “get” Baxter for inducing the (ex-) Chinese supplier, Valens, to breach its contract with LED.
Essentially, LED argued it had agreed with Valens that Valens would not supply anyone else in Australia or New Zealand with products made using the moulds for the products supplied to LED. The evidence on this point was less than ideal, with the judge being rather critical of the witnesses. There was also a dispute between LED and Valens over who owned what. Ultimately, his Honour accepted that there was a deal that LED would be supplied exclusively for Australia and New Zealand so the supply of products to Baxter was in breach of the agreement. However, Baxter itself did not procure the breach: Baxter did not know Valens was re-using the moulds: to the contrary, it was paying Valens for new moulds.
It is rather hard to reconcile the story in Elecspess on how the designs came into existence and came to be manufactured with the evidence in this case. Of course, as the parties in the two cases are different, each must be decided on its own evidence. I guess, in terms of ownership of the registered designs, there is commonality in that LED’s principal, Mr Ottobre, was the author of the original conception. Matters get rather murky after that. At , LED apparently started selling the lamps made by Valens in “early 2004”, but the priority date of the designs is 22 June 2004.
Nilay Patel at Thisismynext.com has embarked on an in depth examination of Apple’s new court action against Samsung.
Unlike the spectacularly unsuccessful war against Windows (based on copyright and ‘look and feel’), this action involves:
* design patents; and
* trade dress.
The “thing that distinguishes this case from Apple’s other actions against other Android products is the trade dress component (and the piquancy of Samsung being a supplier of major components for the iPhone and the iPad).
Now, this case is not being brought in Australia but, if it were, one would wonder about the trade dress prospects given the clear Samsung branding in light of Parkdale v Puxu and its progeny such as Playcorp v Bodum. The only case where the trade dress got up in the face of clear branding is really the Jif Lemoncase, in which there was survey evidence showing an overwhelming preponderance of supermarket shoppers declaring they had bought a Jif Lemon, notwithstanding the swing tags and other clear branding.
Those cases did not, of course, involve design registrations as well (or the functional patents). And, even on trade dress, Apple’s complaint is at great pains to point out the level of detail at which resemblances can be drawn.
The Full Federal Court (Emmett, Besanko and Jessup J) has dismissed Elecspess’ appeal from Gordon J’s ruling that it had infringed LED Technologies’ registered design for combination LED lights used as rear lights for trailers, trucks, buses, caravans and other vehicles. I think this is the first substantive decision by a Full Court on the new regime introduced by the Designs Act 2003.
From a very quick skim, it seems that the approach taken in the Review cases (here and here) by Kenny J and Gordon J below appears to be largely endorsed but the decision runs for 447 paragraphs, with each Judge giving a separate judgment, so rather closer examination will be required. At least in respect of Elecspess and the corporate infringers, Jessup J agreed with Besanko J’s reasons; Emmett J also gave extensive reasons.
The vexed question of the liability for contributory infringement of individual officers or employees also receives extremely extensive consideration. Jessup J agreed with Emmett J’s reasons for finding that a Mr Keller was not individually liable as a joint infringer. Besanko J also found Mr Keller was not liable. Jessup J agreed with Besanko J that a Mr Armstrong also was not jointly liable, but for different reasons.
Working out the ramifications of the differences between their Honours should prove quite diverting.
The Court also upheld Gordon J’s refusal to award damages, or an inquiry into damages, for infringing conduct between the date of trial and the making of final orders. This should not be a problem where an undertaking or injunction restraining the respondent’s conduct is in place pending trial. Where no undertaking or injunction is in place, however, it would appear that the Court considers it imperative to establish at trial that the infringer is continuing their infringing conduct, notwithstanding the court action, to provide a foundation
Keller v LED Technologies Pty Ltd  FCAFC 55 (Emmett, Besanko and Jessup JJ)
Global Brands is still suing YD Pty Ltd. The trial on quantum for infringement of registered design was almost due to start when YD applied to amend.
After YD admitted it had infringed Global Brands’ registered design, YD discovered, over 9 months earlier, that Global Brands had entered into a settlement agreement with Pegasus/Coastal relating to Global Brands allegations that Pegasus/Coastal had infringed the same registered design. The settlement agreement was in fairly typical terms:
the parties (and any related body corporate as that term is defined in s 9 of the Corporations Act2001 (Cth) (Related Bodies Corporate) hereby permanently release and forever discharge each other, their Related Bodies Corporate, directors, customers, servants and agents from and against all and any claim cause of action liability suit or demand which the parties … have or but for this deed may have had against each other…their customers servants or agents prior to the date of this deed for or in respect of or arising out of the subject matter or the conduct of the proceeding and the cross claim.
YD claims that Pegasus/Coastal supplied the infringing products to it and so it was a customer within the terms of the release. Pegasus/Coastal apparently did not want to become embroiled in the litigation. The amendment was to join Pegasus/Coastal as a respondent and to rely on the release.
Dodds-Streeton J has granted leave to amend, finding that YD although not a party to the settlement deed could rely on it as a special exception to the rules on privity, so long as Pegasus/Coastal was joined as a respondent.
In all the unusual circumstances of this case, including:
the existence of the release, its apparent relevance as the basis for an arguable claim; its relatively circumscribed scope; the respondents’ belated knowledge of the deed and their conduct thereafter; the impact of the decision in Airberg only recently appreciated by the respondents’ counsel; the applicants’ preference that the quantum trial should not proceed if the amendments be allowed; the fact that although the proceeding has been long on foot, there has already been one trial and the parties have apparently acquiesced in various stages of non-progression:
in my opinion, weighing all relevant matters, including the nature and importance of the amendment to the respondents, notwithstanding the delay, wasted costs and prejudice to the applicants (which may not be wholly compensable by a costs order) the respondents’ applications to amend and to join Pegasus should be allowed.
Global Brands apparently denies that YD is a “customer” and, in any event, apparently intends seeking rectification to exclude the term as a “mistake”.
All this has led to the vacating of the trial date.
Back in October, Jessup J found Chiropedic’s design for a mattress and base (registered under the 1906 Act) valid and infringed, by only 2 of a number of Radburg’s competing mattresses.
The first point of interest is the impact of a statement of novelty. A second point of interest is the impact of trade variants or “features commonly used in the trade”. Thirdly, his Honour ruled on the costs to be taken into account in the course of an account of profits.
This was the representation in the design (ADR 127723)
There was the usual statement of monopoly, limiting the design to the features of shape or configuration.
Unusually, there was also a statement of novelty:
Novelty is claimed in the shape and configuration of the upper layer of the mattress portion of the mattress and base as indicated by the beading as shown in the representations.
Chiropedic (the design owner) contended that novelty or originality of its design was not limited by this statement and, even if it were, validity and infringement still fell to be assessed by consideration of the design as a whole citing, in support, the judgment of Davies and Whitlam JJ in Richsell v Khoury at .
Jessup J reviewed the cases referred to in Richsell, but discovered that they did not actually deal with it. His Honour found considerably greater assistance in the Franki Report which had led to the introduction of the concept:
On the other hand we were of the opinion that the Registrar should be given power to require a ‘statement of novelty’ to be lodged. By ‘statement of novelty’ we mean a statement dealing with the features of a design that may be said to provide the basis for the design being new or original. For example, if in a design for a chair the significant feature is in the shape of the two front legs and attention is drawn to this fact in a statement of novelty, while there would be no infringement of the design unless the infringing article satisfied the tests for infringement of the chair as a whole, nevertheless it is reasonable to assume that, in testing the novelty and originality of the design, attention would be directed to the two front legs and that this feature of the design would be given particular weight in testing infringement, although an infringement could not be proved unless the relevant tests were satisfied in respect of the whole chair. (my emphasis)
and Slade LJ’s consideration in Sommer Allibert of the similar concept in the UK legislation (the latter of which had not been referred to in Richsell or Polyaire). Accordingly, Jessup J held:
 …. The argument which Davies and Whitlam JJ rejected in that case was that, in making the comparison required by s 17(1), one should look only at the features for which novelty had been claimed. It is one thing to say that the registered owner should not be permitted to use his or her own statement of novelty for the purpose of shutting the court’s eyes to the appearance of a complete design, and to do so to his or her own advantage. It is another thing altogether to say that the registered owner should not be held to such a statement of novelty when the court comes to consider what aspects of the registered design are new or original. The court’s eyes would then be open to the complete design, of course, but it should, in my view, assess that design against the prior art with a particular emphasis upon those features that the registered owner himself or herself, at the point of registration, considered to be novel.
Paying particular attention to the features identified in the Statement of Novelty, his Honour went on to find the design valid over the prior art. For example, it had a relatively square look where the horizontal surface met the upper line of beading, while the prior art was relatively curved. Similarly, the proportion of the upper layer to the lower lower of the mattress was significant over the prior art.
These findings had particular significance when it came to considering infringement. One of Radburg’s designs was found to be identical to the registered design. A second was an obvious imitation. A number of others, however, escaped liability as they either had similar convex curvature to the prior art rather than the square look of the registered design or the upper layer of the mattress was a significantly smaller proportion of the mattress; many of them also had quite different ribbing.
One striking visual difference was discounted in the comparisons: the mattresses in some of the prior art had three layers, not two; so that the mattress could be flipped over and used. The evidence established, however, that the omission or inclusion of the bottom or third layer was a variant commonly resorted to in the trade. Another feature, an “inward set” was apparently visible to those in the trade on fastidious inspection, but his Honour found it did not strike the eye and was an immaterial variation.
Finally, on the principles to be applied in the account, Jessup J ruled that the respondent’s bills of materials should be used (where available) on the principle that they reflected as closely as possible the actual costs incurred and so, where the evidence showed that margins earned on different product lines were not uniform, the respondent would not generate a windfall profit.