Commerce Ministry organises seminar on intellectual property

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry organised yesterday a workshop entitled ‘Patents and Registration Procedures’ with the participation of a number of intellectual property agents and interested members of the public.

The workshop comes within the framework of the Ministry’s efforts to protect and promote intellectual property rights, and to raise awareness among intellectual property agents and the public about the importance of registering and protecting patents against infringement by registering them at the concerned department at the Ministry. The workshop also shed light on how to register a patent electronically.

The event, attended by a number of experts from the Ministry, featured several topics including a general introduction to patents, the content of the patent application, and procedures relating to the registration of a patent application through the electronic registration system. The workshop concluded with a Q&A session during which experts from the Ministry answered questions regarding patents.


New patent court in doubt as German challenge looms

Intellectual property (IP) professionals say that plans to create a unified court for patent litigation in the EU could be jeopardised if a crucial court challenge in Germany is not heard swiftly.

Germany’s federal constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (BverfG), said last week that it will decide on a challenge to the proposed Unified Patent Court (UPC) this year. However, the BverfG has not provided a firm time frame for hearing the case. The news puts the UPC project in doubt, as German and UK ratification is required before the agreement can be formally implemented.

The BverfG challenge, filed by Düsseldorf IP attorney Ingve Stjerna, questions the constitutionality of the German legislation enabling the UPC’s ratification.

Luke McDonagh, senior lecturer in IP and constitutional law at City, University of London, said that with Brexit looming, it is crucial for the court to make its decision.

‘If a positive ruling comes early there is a chance the UPC could be fully ratified and it might even start hearing cases before March 2019,’ he said. ‘By contrast, if a positive decision does not happen until late in 2018, it makes the timescale very tight. And if ratification does not happen before Brexit, it makes UK membership less likely, and may even throw the UPC’s future into balance.’

He added: ‘A decision that Germany cannot ratify would kill the UPC as Germany is the largest patent litigation territory in Europe.’

Luke Maunder, associate at City IP specialists Bristows, said there has been a ‘frustrating’ lack of information about when the court will make a decision and whether it will come in time for the UPC to come into being before Brexit.

‘That is highly relevant as UPC start-up post-Brexit would add a further layer of complication, especially if the much-talked-about Brexit transitional period does not materialise,’ he added.

The UPC, which will hear disputes related to unitary patents, will be open only to EU member states. One of the court’s major divisions is set to be housed in Aldgate Tower (pictured) in the City of London. It will, on occasion, have to refer certain matters to the European Court of Justice.

The UK is currently undergoing the final stages of ratification, a process requiring the rubber stamp of foreign secretary Boris Johnson.


Stricter compliance for working of patents in India

The grant of a patent is a contract between the patentee and the government according to which the government grants the patentee the monopoly over such invention’s commercial exploitation for a period of 20 years in return, the patentee has to work such invention on a commercial basis to benefit the society. It is for this reason that Section 146 was included in the Indian Patents Act, 2005. This section makes it mandatory for a patent holder to submit the details of the working of the patent in India, to the Controller of Parents. The patentees have to submit form 27 giving such information, the failure to do so may attract penalties specified in Section 122 of the Act.

In the Writ Petition filed by IP scholar Mr. Shamnad Basheer it was submitted that several patentees/licensees were not furnishing information regarding the working of the patent in India. It was submitted that such non-furnishing of information was a blatant disregard of section 146 of the Act and that the Delhi High Court ought to issue directions to that effect. The Delhi High Court in the past has granted compulsory licenses in several cases and one such beneficiary of these decisions is NATCO. It was submitted by the petitioner that NATCO had been granted compulsory licenses to the work the patentee invention in India, yet no such information under form 27 was submitted by it, which in a way fails the purpose of the grant of compulsory license.

The High Court perused the submissions and held that in no case could it be stated that the information regarding the working of patent is confidential, it was necessary for such patentee and/or licensee to furnish such information to the Controller of Patents. This decision is in the interest of the public at large, since the patentees/licensees not working the patent in sufficient quantity will come to light. Furthermore the entities that have obtained compulsory licenses will have to prove that them obtaining the license has indeed resulted in more commercial exploitation of the patent for the interest of the public. The matter was adjourned by the High Court to confirm with the Controller of Parents the numbers of cases in which patentee are yet to comply with section 146.