26 February 2013

Intellectual Property Aspects of 3D Printing (German)

On the ksnh::jur blog, we recently posted the first two articles of a series on the IP aspects of the fascinating new technology of 3D printing which, according to our perception, has the potential to raise totally new questions and pose new challenges to the IP system. I will continue in German, the language of the two articles:
Das 3D-Printing hat das Potential einer Disruptive Technology, die bestehende Technologien, Produkt oder Dienstleistungen möglicherweise vollständig verdrängt - ähnlich wie die Transistortechnologie einstmals die Röhrens- und Relaisindustrie untergehen ließ. Es könnte nämlich sein, dass das 3D-Printing einen Übergang von teuren, zentralisierten Fertigungsstätten hin zu einer Vielzahl dezentraler Einrichtungen ermöglicht, analog der PC-Revolution, bei der die zuvor zentralisierte EDV ab den 1970er Jahren durch eine unüberschaubaren Landschaft von billigen, dezentral betriebenden Personal-Computern faktisch abgelöst wurde.



Ähnlich wie bei der Software für solche Computer wird es sich auch mit den beim 3D-Printing benötigten Datenmodellen verhalten, die über das Internet genau so ausgetauscht werden, wie heutzutage Software und audiovisuelle Digtalwerke - teilweise entgeltlich über reguläre Märkte und teilweise unentgeltlich über Tauschbörsen.

Daneben wird der Preisverfall bei 3D-Meßvorrichtungen fortschreiten, mit denen aus einem körperlichen Werkstück ein räumliches 3D-Datenmodell abgeleitet werden kann, so dass beispielsweise Kunststoff-Ersatzteile privat oder in einem 3D-Copyshop in ein Datenmodell umgesetzt und dann einfach nachzuproduziert werden können.

Dieses Szenario bringt eine Vielzahl rechtlicher Fragen mit sind, ähnlich dem Filesharing bei urheberrechtlich geschützen Software-, Audio- oder Videodateien heute. Neben dem Urheberrecht kommt aber auch das Patent- und Geschmacksmusterrecht ins Spiel. Hierbei sind Fragestellungen zu erwarten, die über das hinausgehen, was seit vielen Jahren im Bereich des Filesharing diskutiert wird.

So stellt sich beispielsweise die Frage, ob es Hersteller von Erstatzteilen hinnehmen müssen, wenn z.B. Brillengestelle, Smartphone-Gehäuseteile oder Rasenmähermotor-Abdeckungen privat in 3D-Datenmodelle umgesetzt und Dritten über das Internet frei zur Verfügung gestellt werden, z.B. im Rahmen einer öffetlichen Geometriedatenbank. Können solche Datenbanken frei verkäuflicher Artikel rechtlich unterbunden werden?

Die sich aus solchen Fragestellung im Zusammenhang mit dem Austausch von digitalen, technische und/oder ästhetische Produkte betreffenden Daten ergebenden patent- und geschmacksmusterrechtlichen Überlegungen machen deutlich, wie sehr die derzeitige begriffliche Ausgestaltung des Patent- und Geschmacksmusterrechtes noch in den Vorstellungen körperlicher industrieller Produktion des 20. Jahrhunderts verhaftet ist.


(Photo 2010 von Creative Tools via Flickr unter einer CC Lizenz)

21 February 2013

Representation before the Unified Patent Court from the point of view of the Rules of Procedure

In this earlier posting I sketched the contradictory positions of general lawyer associations (e.g. CCBE) and more patent-related organisations (e.g. epi and CEIPI) as to the authorisation rights before the Unified Patent Court (UPC), back then called European and EU Patents Court (EEPC).


As analysed on the ksnh::law blog in an article titled Representation before the UPC: Are some Patent Attorneys authorised without Patent Litigation Certificate?, there are four groups of legal professionals defined in Article 48 UPCA and Rule 286 RoP that will be entitled to autonomously represent cases before the new court:
  1. lawyers authorised to practise before a court of a Contracting Member State,

  2. jurists authorised to practice in patent related matters before a court in a Contracting Member State, 
  3. European Patent Attorney having obtained the European Patent Litigation Certificate, and
  4. European Patent Attorney having an appropriate qualification.
While no 1 relates to attorneys-at-law, there are some good reasons that no 2 may cover legally trained patent professionals who are authorised to only practice in patent related matters before a court of a Contracting Member State, such as e.g. German or British patent attorneys.

Further, no 3 relates to European Patent Attorneys according to Art 134 EPC having obtained the European Patent Litigation Certificate which may be obtained by attending a course similar to the Patent Litigation in Europe program of CEIPI in Strassbourg, while no 4 might relate to European Patent Attorneys having alternative qualifications such as an LL.M.degree in IP law or practical litigation expertise proved by a case book.


19 February 2013

Unitary Patent Court agreement signed today by 24 of 27 EU member states

As announced in this press release, 24 EU member states have signed the Unified Patent Court agreement today in Brussels in an official signing ceremony.

The UPC signatories are in alphabetical order:
  • Austria
  • Belgium 
  • Czech Republic
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
Bulgaria is expected to sign in the coming days once internal procedures have been completed. Poland and Spain did not sign the agreement.

While Poland has become increasingly critical about signing the agreement (see here and here) and Italy still opposes the Unitary Patent due to language issues, Spain still rejects the whole package.

To enter into force, the Unified Patent Court Agreement needs to be ratified by at least 13 of the 24 signing states, including Germany, the United Kingdom, and France as mandatory parties of the agreement. 

As reported on ksnh.::law earlier this afterneen, the so called Friends of the Presidency Group will meet in Brussels on 27 February 2013 (see agenda) to exchange information on national ratification processes and the setting up of the Preparatory Committee.

(Photo: Council of the European Union)

UPC News: Signing Ceremony Today and Rules of Procedure

Today the Signing ceremony of the International Agreement on the establishment of the Unified Patent Court will be held at the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels.

Apparently, only 21 of the originally 25 EU member states that supported the establishment of  a Unitary Patent by enhanced cooperation are prepared to sign, including the thee "mandatory" signers France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia are reported to have technical problems, whatever that might mean. But at least in the case of Poland, there appear to be also political problems that will likely prevent the country from signing the UPC agreement for many years.

The 22nd signer will be Italy, which nevertheless is still opposing the Unitary Patent together with Spain for language issues. The effect for Italy will be that a European Patent granted by the EPO will still have to be separately validated in Italy (and translated into Italian) to take effect in this country, but can be centrally enforced and attacked before the Unified Patent Court together with a possibly existing parallel Unitary Patent.

Further issues recently reported on ksnh::law include the issuance of a nearly-final version of the Rules of Procedure for the Unified Patent Court, including some interesting observations as to the representation rights of patent attorneys before and the fully electronic procedure at the new court:

With the publication of the draft Rules of procedure, the main legal texts of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court system are now available in a (pre-)final form:
  1. REGULATION (EU) No 1257/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection,

  2. COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements,

  3. Agreement on a Unified Patent Court of 11 January 2013 (Council Doc 16351/12), and

  4. Rules of procedure of the Unified Patent Court, 14th draft of 31 January 2013.


(Photo: The Council of the European Union) 

07 February 2013

The Provisions of the 'America Invents Act' that will enter into force on March 16, 2013 (German)

Further to this recent posting on the Amendments in US patent law caused by the America Invents Act, by which I pointed to part 1 and part 2 of a series of three German postings on this subject on the ksnh::jur blog, I now can announce part 3 of the series, which relates to those important provisions that enter into force as early as March 16, 2013. For a short summary of this new posting, I again continue in German:

Nachdem die ersten beiden Beiträge unter der Überschrift "Änderungen im US Patentrecht duch den 'America Invents Act'" diejenigen neuen Regelungen betrafen, die am 16. September 2011 (Teil 1) und am 16 September 2012 (Teil 2) in Kraft traten, beleuchtet der dritte Beitrag die am 16. März 2013 anstehenden grundlegenden Änderungen:

  • Umstellung von 'first-to-invent' auf auf 'first-to-file'

  • Wirkungen der neuen US-Neuheitsschonfrist
    • die bisherige US-Neuheitsschonfrist (first-to-invent)
    • die Neuheitsschonfrist im Gebrauchsmusterrechtgemäß (first-to-file)
    • die neue US-Neuheitsschonfrist (fisrt-to-file)

  • Taktische Überlegungen zur Neuheitsschonfrist

  • Umfang des relevanten Standes der Technik
    • Abschaffung der Hilmer Doktrin
    • weltweite Vorbenutzung und anderweitig zugänglicher Stand der Technik gemäß §102 (a) (1)
    • nachveröffentlichte US-Anmeldungen/Patente gemäß §102 (a) (2)

  • Vergleich Stand-der-Technik Vorher/Nachher und USA/Europa

  • Derivation-Verfahren und widerrechtliche Entnahme