EU: Trademark “Spuckschutz” (Spit Protection) preliminary cancelled

EU: Trademark “Spuckschutz” (Spit Protection) preliminary cancelled

EUIPO: European Union Trademark “Spuckschutz” (spit protection) cancelled for the time being

Gyrcizka KG from Austria demanded up to EUR 16,000 in warning costs from companies that offered a “Spuckschutz” (spit protection), the screen intended to ensure more security on shop counters in times of Corona. In 2013, the advertising company had the word “Spuckschutz” registered with the European Trademark Office as a trademark for showcases and warned companies that offered protective screens for retailers.

For decades, however, various trade and hygiene regulations have stipulated that, for example, when unpackaged food is presented, a – literally – “Spuckschutz” must be attached. The word “Spuckschutz”, as a pure generic name, should hence not have been protected as a trademark at all, since everyone must be free to designate a product for what it is.

After several requests for cancellation were made against the trademark, the request made by patent attorney Ulrich Kreutzer has now been granted and the trademark has been canceled in accordance with the request.

The trademark owner has, however, appealed against the decision so that the screens, which are supposed to keep the inevitable droplets out when speaking, should keep the courts busy even after they have hopefully long since disappeared in many shops.

Source: https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/W01179336

The European Unitary Patent – a Deceptive Package?

The European Unitary Patent – a Deceptive Package?

What would you say if you ordered three rolls from the bakery, but from now on there are only packs of 10, which fortunately only cost as much as seven? For your three-bun hunger, that does you precious little good. The costs grow, but your hunger doesn’t.

The situation is similar with the unitary patent, which is touted with completely unrealistic figures as an alleged cost reducer. For most medium-sized applicants, the new unitary patent means only one thing, especially after the UK’s exit: costs continue to rise. Only for companies that actually need patent protection in many of the contracting states of the unitary patent costs will go down – but these companies are in the minority.

And in addition to the rising costs for many of the applicants, there is another serious disadvantage: If their patent is brought down in one state, it will fall in all 25 states.

The bottom line is: you get protection in more countries – for more money. But many small and medium-sized companies do not need this additional protection bought at great expense.

For some years now, international companies that used to use the European Patent Office almost exclusively have been filing more and more national patent applications in Germany, France and the United Kingdom – a trend that will intensify with the introduction of the unitary patent and the completion of Brexit, especially since there is already a clear cost advantage in terms of official fees. An average European patent application with 10 claims costs around 8,000 euros in official fees over a term of seven years, while the same application as a national application in Germany, France and the United Kingdom only incurs official fees of just under 2,500 euros. It is therefore worth considering national applications, even if translation costs are then incurred.

Contact us – we will also find an optimized IP strategy for your company.

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Study: Investing in IP pays off

Study: Investing in IP pays off

All companies want to be innovative. But not all of them protect their investments in innovations with intellectual property rights. However, investing in intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks and registered designs can pay off in various ways: according to a study by the European Patent Office and the EUIPO, companies that have IP rights generate not just 20% higher income per employee on average as a company without such rights, they are also considered to be more attractive from an employee’s point of view and find qualified employees more easily. SMEs and start-ups benefit most clearly from IP rights, as they typically see significantly higher sales growth compared to competitors who do not invest in intellectual property. Protecting your intellectual property hence pays off in multiple ways.

Source: https://www.epo.org/news-events/news/2021/20210208_en.html

Compatibility prohibited – an abuse of patent law?

Compatibility prohibited – an abuse of patent law?

The principle is rather old: sell a high-quality product relatively cheaply, but the consumables required for it relatively expensively. This works very well for razor blades, coffee capsules or toner cartridges, for example – and to the annoyance of consumers, of course, especially when the offering of low-priced compatible consumables is prohibited by patent law.

Now, patents are a good thing in themselves, because anyone who invests time and money in the development of new products should – quite rightly – also reap the fruits of their investment for a limited period and be protected from imitators who want to save their own development costs.

However, consumables in many areas have long been so technically mature that genuine innovations are in short supply. This pleases the consumer, who hopes for competition and falling costs, but annoys many a manufacturer.

So what can be done to keep the “earning money on consumables” business model alive? It’s simple: add technically superfluous but patentable features to the consumables, present the whole thing as an innovative solution to a “technical problem,” obtain a “compatibility blocking patent,” and design the main product so that it only works with the consumable if the consumable has the inherently superfluous features. That’s when, for example, the printer asks the cartridge, “do you have this or that?” (e.g. a sensor that measures something). If the cartridge says yes, it infringes the patent (unless it is an original cartridge), if it says no, unfortunately the printer cannot work with it. Third parties cannot then offer compatible products and consumers are forced to buy only from one manufacturer.

Due to special feature combinations, such compatibility blocking patents usually present themselves at first glance as quite complex technical solutions, but on closer inspection they regularly turn out to be an arbitrary combination of trivial features, where the combined features are known per se and the feature combinations do not really improve the consumable.

What further complicates the work of examiners at the patent offices is another typical feature of compatibility blocking patents: the “technical problem” supposedly underlying them does not exist in practice for the person skilled in the art. There is no actual technical problem to be solved. The respective prior art is mature. Since there is no technical problem, there is naturally also no prior art which the examiner could use to deny grant of a patent.

If inventors normally want to achieve the widest possible scope of protection with a patent in order to protect the use of the solution in all possible variations, the scope of protection of compatibility blocking patents is usually tiny. They offer no protection from an innovation point of view, as direct competitors can easily make their own arrangement of features outside the scope of protection. However, suppliers of low-cost consumables are forced to comply with the manufacturer’s arbitrary arrangement.

Compatibility blocking patents lead the purpose of patent law, to protect innovations, ad absurdum. For most start-ups and medium-sized companies, however, what still counts are rather basic patents that secure key innovations and also make the company interesting for investors.

Time for a rethink? National IP rights on the rise.

Time for a rethink? National IP rights on the rise.

For some years now, international companies that used to use the European Patent Office almost exclusively have been filing more and more national patent applications in Germany, France and the United Kingdom – a trend that is likely to intensify with the introduction of the Community patent and the completion of Brexit, especially since there is already a clear cost advantage in terms of official fees. An average European patent application with 10 claims costs around 8,000 euros in official fees over a period of seven years, while the same application as a national application in Germany, France and the UK only incurs official fees of just under 2,500 euros. It is therefore worth considering national applications, even if translation costs are then incurred. As a pan-European law firm with offices in the UK, France and Germany, we can also offer direct representation before these (from a patent law perspective still most important) European offices.