Welcome to the latest edition of Osborne Clarke’s IP@OC Update.
In this edition, we look at recent developments in copyright. As a current focus of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative, the Commission has recently set out a proposed new regulation on cross-border portability of online content (see here) and is expected to propose a number of other legislative reforms in the coming months. We will examine these in our next issue, once more detail has emerged. In the meantime, as we illustrate below, current copyright laws continue to tax national and EU courts on issues such as restricted acts and fair compensation for copyright holders from licensees and device manufacturers.
Another key development on the horizon for IP lawyers is the Unified Patent Court. We ask where we are now and what businesses should be doing in preparation.
We also consider the IP issues that businesses should be thinking about when it comes to collaboration, and what directors should be thinking of when it comes to IP more generally.
We hope you enjoy these articles. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this update, please contact one of the experts whose contact details are set out below or your usual Osborne Clarke contact.
The Unified Patent Court is nigh
Anyone interested in research and patents in the EU will be aware of the proposed new Unified Patent Court (UPC). Now, more than three years after it was agreed upon, we can finally look ahead with confidence at the UPC opening in the (relatively) near future. Owners and users of technology should start thinking now about what the new system will mean for them and what they need to do to prepare.
Patent Box regimes: why directors need to focus on IP
From July 2016, the UK’s new Patent Box regime will apply. This new regime, along with other similar initiatives in other EU Member States such as Italy, will require a greater focus on the value attributable to a company’s IP.
As a result, directors need to ensure that they have a proper appreciation of the IP that their company holds and benefits from.
Better together: getting your collaborations right
Behind most great products there will have been a great team, and behind that great team, great ideas. But of equal importance is a great contract. That is, a contract that clearly sets out the parties’ respective rights to own and exploit the intellectual property required and generated by a project, and their obligations to maintain and protect it.
There are many potential pitfalls when it comes to collaboration. To ensure that you receive the benefits that you are expecting and avoid costly legal disputes along the way, it is important to ensure that you have considered and addressed these potential pitfalls upfront.
German Ministry of Justice plans to tighten copyright contract law, again
In many countries, authors and users of copyright (such as publishers) are subject to few controls when it comes to setting the terms of licences for that copyright. In Germany, by contrast, authors already have a statutory right to receive “fair” and “equitable” compensation for the exploitation of their works.
New legislation being proposed would afford further protections for authors, but would impose a significant administrative burden on licensees and potentially threaten the viability of producing certain types of works.
Copyright exemption: fair compensation for the use of multifunctional printers
EU Member States whose copyright laws include an exception permitting the making of copies of copyright works for private, non-commercial use are under an obligation to provide “fair compensation” to copyright owners. A common mechanism is to apply a levy to the cost of devices which can be used to make copies, which is then paid to the copyright holders. But the exact application of these levies has been the subject of a string of challenges.
A recent Belgian case addresses several key questions on the validity of the Belgian system, which will have an impact across other Member States.
Copyright and restricted acts: distribution of TV programmes via direct injection
The 2001 Information Society Directive attempted to modernise copyright in the EU by introducing a new “restricted act” of communication to the public of a copyright work by electronic means. Such restricted acts cannot be performed without the copyright holder’s permission. Inevitably, however, the ever-accelerating rate of technological change since then has thrown up a series of questions as to precisely what technical acts do or do not fall within the prohibition.