The Argentine Executive Power recently issued Decree 27/2018, which has introduced significant and substantial amendments to the Law on Trademarks, the Law on Patents and the Industrial Model and Design Decree 6,673/63. The most important amendments include a simpler registration process, an expansion of the facts that do not destroy novelty and adjustments to renewal and grace periods.
The government recently issued a decree which introduced substantial changes to the trademark opposition system, empowering the National Institute of Industrial Property to settle disputes concerning oppositions that parties cannot resolve through negotiation. The changes include the establishment of a three-month term to obtain oppositions and a 40-day evidence period.
The Health Authority examines all relevant information to decide whether to authorise a product's introduction to the market, including its trademark or product name. In this regard, the Health Authority considers potential health risks that could occur in the event of confusion and error as regards trademarks or product names and how such confusion could affect physicians, pharmacists and consumers.
Decree 27/2018 was recently issued with the aim of further reducing and simplifying the regulations of different regimes in order to improve commerce and industry. In the IP sphere, the decree introduced important and substantial changes to the trademark opposition system. As a result, the administrative authority will be empowered to settle disputes concerning oppositions that cannot be resolved between the parties by means of negotiation.
A recently issued decree aims to further reduce and simplify the regulations of relevant regimes in order to provide an efficient response to requests for the exercise of commerce and the development of industry. Among other things, the decree simplifies the trademark opposition procedure; implements the administrative resolution of oppositions, nullity and cancellation for non-use actions; and requires proof of use for registered trademarks.
The Supreme Court recently set out clear principles regarding the protection of a work of visual art under the Copyright Act where technical functions played a role. In its decision, the court explained that the assessment as to whether a (visual) piece of work is actually protected by copyright must be assessed by the court as a legal issue only. There is no room to consider the opinion of experts or any other third parties.
The Supreme Court recently clarified the circumstances in which the burden of proof regarding the exhaustion of trademark rights shifts from the defendant to the trademark owner. It made clear that unless the defendant can prove a concrete risk of partitioning markets, it is up to the defendant to prove that the trademark rights relied on by the plaintiff are exhausted. This should be borne in mind when raising this defence.
The Supreme Court recently affirmed once more that the exemptions to the principle of exhaustion of trademark rights must be construed narrowly. In its decision, the court made clear that once trademark rights are exhausted, resellers may use not only word marks, but also figurative marks without any limitations when advertising or reselling original products.
In a welcome development of Austrian copyright law, the Supreme Court recently ruled that a combination of works by two artists does not constitute a joint work if it can be separated, even if the works involved were created for the sole purpose of being combined as a jointly planned contribution. Strong indicators of whether parts of a work are separable are the individual marketability and possible depreciation of the separated parts.
Parliament recently transposed parts of EU Directive 2015/2436 into national law. Most important is the introduction of certification marks, which did not previously exist under Austrian law. Other provisions of the bill concern the division of trademark applications, the shortening of the validity period of a registration and the reduction of the registration fee.
On 30 July 2018 the Belgian legislature transposed the EU Trade Secrets Directive into domestic law via the Trade Secret Law. The Trade Secret Law is welcomed, as no general regulatory framework regarding trade secrets previously existed in Belgium. It remains to be seen how the law will be used and applied in practice, but it is an essential means in effectively appropriating, protecting and exploiting innovation by providing trade secret holders with the tools to protect valid trade secrets.
In a high-profile trademark infringement case involving Moët Hennessey Champagne Services and a Belgian painter, the courts were asked to strike a balance between the right to property, including intellectual property, and artistic freedom of expression. The decision is expected to set an important precedent on how to strike a fair balance between freedom of speech and the protection of trademarks when these two concepts conflict.
Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) recently sued PI Pharma before the Brussels Commercial Court for the parallel import and repackaging of one of MSD's medicinal products. MSD based its claim on the alleged violation of the first, third and fourth Bristol-Myers Squibb conditions. Although this is not the first time that the Brussels Commercial Court has been involved in a dispute over the parallel importation of medicinal products, the judgment further refines the scope of certain Bristol-Myers Squibb conditions.
In a recent judgment, the Brussels Court of Appeal ordered two parallel traders to pay provisional compensation of €3 million to the Mitsubishi Corporation for illegally importing hundreds of Mitsubishi forklift trucks which had been on the Asian market into the European Economic Area via parallel trade routes. The court held that the parallel traders had failed to provide conclusive evidence that Mitsubishi, the proprietor of the Benelux and EU trademarks, had consented to the parallel trade.
The Mons Court of Appeal recently issued a judgment in a dispute between Verabel, holder of a complex trademark, and Verandas Confort, which used the word VERABEL as a Google AdWord. The court found that the AdWord VERABEL created likelihood of confusion between the goods concerned and infringed the trademark's function of origin. As a result, Veranda Confort was ordered to cease using the AdWord.
Canada saw a range of disparate patent law developments in 2018, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Separate from this, the second federal budget bill for 2018 introduced a series of amendments to the Patent Act, which concern diverse matters such as licensing commitments on standard-essential patents and the role of the prosecution history in claim construction.
A number of patent decisions were taken by the Canadian courts in 2018, including one concerning a relatively rare interlocutory injunction and several others decided on the merits. Damages totalling C$7,915,000 were awarded in one case based on lost profits and reasonable royalties, as well as compound interest, but the justice refused to award punitive damages. Several of the decisions remain under appeal.
There have been a number of key developments in Canadian life sciences IP and regulatory law over the past 12 months, including a consultation on the different approaches to the naming of biological drugs. Among other developments, four biosimilars were approved, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health announced revisions to its biosimilar and administrative review process and significant proposed amendments to the Patent Rules were released.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office recently revised its practice notice regarding name and surname objections. Previously, examiners had to locate a minimum of 25 listings in Canadian phone directories before a name and surname objection could be raised. The revised practice notice indicates that "to better reflect the purpose of paragraph 12(1)(a)", effective immediately, examiners are no longer required to find a minimum number of listings before an objection under this section can be raised.
The Federal Court of Appeal recently allowed in part Apotex's appeal of a decision awarding Eli Lilly over C$100 million for Apotex's infringement of eight process patents relating to the antibiotic cefaclor. The court remitted the decision to the Federal Court for reconsideration solely on the issue of interest.
The Trademarks Law 2016, the Patents and Trademarks (Amendment) Law 2016 and the Design Rights Registration Law 2016 recently came into force, introducing a new IP regime in the Cayman Islands. The legislation establishes a standalone trademark registration system, prohibits the assertion of patent infringement in bad faith and allows existing UK and EU-registered design rights to be extended to the Cayman Islands, among other things.