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Intellectual Property

When am I protected after having filed a European patent application?
European Union | 28 June 2021

The basic principle of the European Patent Convention is that a patent application provides the same rights as a granted patent, so parties should be able to exclude others from making, using and selling their invention. However, it is possible for member states to limit the effects of the patent application in their national law. In this interview, European and Belgian Patent Attorney Stijn Lagaert discusses the provisional protection conferred by European patent applications.

Patented inventions may infringe existing patents
International | 21 June 2021

Patents prohibit a party's competitors from producing, selling or using the protected invention. However, patents do not automatically confer to the owner the right of producing, selling or using their invention since some aspects may be covered by third-party patents. Where a patent owner wishes to produce, sell or use its invention, it must carry out research to determine whether it has the required freedom to operate.

International patent applications provide you 2.5 years' decision time
International | 31 May 2021

​An international patent application, also referred to as a 'Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent application', is a single patent application which allows the applicant to continue a patent procedure in up to 153 jurisdictions to get patent protection for their invention. The benefit of PCT patent applications for potential applicants is that they can use the two-and-a-half-year period to develop their business and commercialise their product.

More than a wine label when prestige is at stake
Belgium | 10 May 2021

When a trademark achieves a reputation, its owner can claim a broader protection which extends to goods and services not designated by their trademark registrations. However, such trademarks are more likely to be the target of parasitism and unauthorised use by unscrupulous infringers. A recent judgment regarding infringement of the well-known trademark PETRUS reaffirmed that trademark counterfeiting damages the prestige and reputation of the affected trademark.

Thin line between legitimate copies and unfair trade practices
Belgium | 03 May 2021

In Belgium, any party is generally free to copy or imitate another party's creation. However, the freedom to copy principle has two exceptions – namely, that copying is not permitted if it constitutes infringement of IP rights or is considered to be contrary to honest and fair trade practices. This article addresses how to tackle a parasitic copy of a creation in Belgium.

Extrajudicial admissions: can everything you say be used against you?
Belgium | 26 April 2021

Extrajudicial admissions are those that are made outside court proceedings. In some countries, such admissions may be used against a party in court proceedings. In Belgium, no specific provisions exist regarding the admissibility of extrajudicial admissions in court proceedings relating to patents. However, case law shows that the courts will take extrajudicial admissions into account and that it can be difficult for parties to take back such statements.

Role of patent data in innovation lifecycle: marketing and monetisation stages
International | 19 April 2021

Patent-related data is a recognised source of information about technological innovation programmes and the patenting strategies of parties in a particular field. Parties often use data reporting tools (eg, mapping or landscaping) to provide an overview of a competitive activity. This article focuses on how parties can use patent data at the marketing and monetisation stages of a product's innovation lifecycle.

Role of patent data in innovation lifecycle: development stage
International | 12 April 2021

Patent-related data is a recognised source of information about technological innovation programmes and the patenting strategies of parties in a particular field. Parties often use data reporting tools (eg, mapping or landscaping) to provide an overview of a competitive activity. This article focuses on how parties can use patent data at the development stage of a product's innovation lifecycle.

Role of patent data in innovation lifecycle: ideation stage
International | 05 April 2021

Patent-related data is a recognised source of information about technological innovation programmes and the patenting strategies of parties in a particular field. Parties often use data reporting tools (eg, mapping or landscaping) to provide an overview of a competitive activity. This article focuses on how parties can use patent data at the ideation stage of a product's innovation lifecycle.

Protecting product appearance through trademark and design registrations
International | 22 February 2021

Consumers recognise products not only by the words and logos on their packaging, but also by their look and feel, including their shape and colour. Both copyright law and fair trade practice law provide legal protection to the look and feel of products. Where possible, IP owners should also seek protection for their products' appearance by obtaining a registration certificate under trademark and design law, which can be a strong asset if a dispute arises.

There's no such thing as an international patent
International | 15 February 2021

Patents are restricted to a specific territory and no single patent confers protection for inventions worldwide. However, an international patent application does exist. Filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an international patent application aims to facilitate the procedures for protecting inventions in multiple countries in a cost-effective and insightful way.

Don't believe everything you read
International | 08 February 2021

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for third parties to try and trick others into paying a large sum for specific services, even in the IP field. If an IP owner receives a letter or invoice from an unknown party, it should check what is being offered and whether the source is trustworthy.

Laboratoire de la Mer and Omega Pharma in disguised trademark infringement claim procedure
Belgium | 28 September 2020

This article has been removed at the request of the contributing firm.

Trademarks: why companies should obtain copyright for logos
International | 20 July 2020

When a company decides to refresh its image and develop a new logo, it will probably want to protect the logo as a trademark. In most cases, a new logo will have been designed by an employee, a freelancer or a communication agency. However, companies often overlook the fact that, in such cases, the employee, freelancer or communication agency automatically owns the logo's copyright, even if the logo was designed at the company's request.

Did you know: domain name registration is no substitute for trademark registration?
International | 06 July 2020

Unlike a trademark, a domain name is a contractual right which is primarily used to identify a website. In most jurisdictions, it cannot serve as a basis to oppose the commercial use of a sign or the registration as a trademark of a sign that is contained in the domain name. In short, the exclusive character of the domain name holder relates and is limited to the domain name as such.

Trademark fluidity – not only humans are social distancing
International | 08 June 2020

Only a few weeks ago, the phrase 'social distancing' was not part of daily conversations. However, in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, it is on everyone's lips and is now one of the most well-known measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19. In order to stay relevant in these strange times, a number of brands have temporarily adapted or modified their trademarks and logos to reinforce the importance of complying with the health guidelines.

Obtaining patent protection for software in Europe
European Union | 24 February 2020

Under the European Patent Convention, a computer program per se is not considered a patentable invention; rather, program listings per se are protected by copyright. However, in many cases, a computer program can be considered a technical solution to a technical problem and is thus patentable. For a European patent to be granted, applicants must show that this solution is novel and involves an inventive step with respect to prior art.