IP@OC Update: June 2016

Published on 8th Jun 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of Osborne Clarke’s IP@OC Update.

In this edition, we focus on design rights. Although the Design Regulation and Directive have been in force for over a decade, only now are courts beginning to clarify what scope of protection designs confer. In some cases, another option might be to look to copyright, but the overlap and interaction between design rights and copyright is far from straightforward. We highlight the differences that remain between different Member States’ approaches despite the harmonisation of laws, by looking at the position in five jurisdictions.

A more ambitious project to harmonise protection of rights is the incoming Unified Patent Court. The aim is simple: one unified system in which to bring EU-wide patent actions. Of course, the reality is bedevilled with complexity. In the series of articles below we aim to make some sense of the UPC by setting out the key issues that parties should know and consider whether protecting patent rights or defending an infringement claim.

Finally, we report on significant progress that has been made recently to address an issue which we focussed on in our summer 2015 edition of this update: trade secrets. The EU Trade Secrets Directive was adopted on 27 May 2016 and comes into force in 2018, bringing much needed minimum standards and effectiveness of protection for trade secrets across EU Member States.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to contact the author using the contact details below or your usual Osborne Clarke contact.

Design rights and copyright

The Design Rights Directive provides that objects which are protected by design rights may also be protected by copyright. Yet beyond that fundamental principle, differences exist. We discuss how these rights interact in the following major EU jurisdictions:

We also provide an update to our previous article on the high-profile Trunki case, noting some of the implications of the case as raised by counsel to that case, amongst others.

The Unified Patent Court

As we discussed in our previous update, after much discussion and speculation about the UPC, a start date within 2017 now looks realistic. So, what are the key issues that those who may need to use the UPC need to consider? In this edition, we look at the following:

  • Litigation strategies (read more);
  • The choice of forum for disputes (read more); and
  • Other options and tactics for actions within the UPC (read more).

Trade Secrets Directive

On 27 May 2016, the Council of Europe adopted the legislation governing the new EU Trade Secrets Directive. This is expected to be in force at national level from June 2018. The new law should raise the standard for trade secret protection across the EU as a whole, although there will be uncertainties as to its interpretation when it is first implemented.

Following our update in our May 2015 edition, negotiations between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament resulted in a compromise agreement in December 2015, including some slight but politically sensitive changes of emphasis, in particular relating to the rights of employees, whistleblowers, journalists and trade unions.

Read more.


19 June 2016 – Our London seminar will examine: Copyright, online content and the Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative.

Our seminar will examine some of the key copyright and related issues for online content, with a particular focus on possible changes arising out of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative. Topics covered will include: cross-border issues, platforms, the proposed Digital Content Directive and reform of the Copyright Directive.

For more information on how to register for this event, please click here.

Interested in hearing more from Osborne Clarke?

* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

Interested in hearing more from Osborne Clarke?