With the Headquarters Agreement for the Milan seat concluded, we look at the role of the UPC central division

As the Headquarters Agreement for the Milan seat of the Unified Patent Court's central division is signed, confirming that all is in place for the new seat to begin operation this year, we look at the role of the central division in UPC patent actions under the UPC Agreement, UPC Rules of Procedure and as illustrated by early UPC decisions, as well as the composition of central division judicial panels. Read more

Revision of the SPC system in Europe moves a step closer

The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee has now approved its position on the proposals for a unitary SPC and the recast SPC regulations for medicinal products. The proposals aim to produce a simplified and centralised application procedure for SPCs (currently done nationally in each state) and an SPC for the unitary patent (also to be centrally administered). Read more

Six years of success: Laura Orlando named one of Italy’s top 50 lawyers for sixth consecutive year

Herbert Smith Freehills Partner Laura Orlando has been named one of Italy's top 50 lawyers for a sixth consecutive year by Legalcommunity, a leading Italian legal publisher recognising the excellence of the Italian legal market in the field of intellectual property. Laura rose six places from 2022. The publication highlighted the growth of our Milan office, Laura's role as Joint Global Head of IP, and her reputation in Italy as a key expert on the Unified Patent Court and the unitary patent. Read more

Irish referendum on joining the UPC announced for June 2024

The Irish Government's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment announced yesterday (23 January) that the Government has approved a proposal to hold a constitutional referendum in June 2024 on Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court. The referendum is to be held alongside the European and local elections. Read more

The UPC – 2023’s achievements and predictions for 2024

Six months into the new European patent and unitary patent litigation system – the Unified Patent Court (UPC) - and the stage has been set for a positive 2024. The UPC is proving popular with patentees bringing infringement actions as well as those parties seeking revocations, but with the balance falling in favour of the infringement actions to a greater extent than many had expected. We give our analysis of the UPC's first six months and our predictions for 2024.  Read more

UK Supreme Court unanimously dismisses DABUS appeal to allow AI to be named as a patent inventor

On 20 December 2023, The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of Dr Stephen Thaler, reiterating earlier decisions as to the ineligibility for patent protection of inventions where there is no named human inventor. In its judgment, the Supreme Court held that an inventor, for the purposes of the Patent Act 1977 (the Act), must be a natural person, and that therefore an autonomous AI system cannot be named as inventor under the current provisions of the Act. Further, the Supreme Court held that, under the Act, ownership of an AI system does not confer a right for the owner to apply for or obtain a patent relating to inventions generated by said AI system. This decision is the latest in a series of test cases filed around the world by Dr Thaler in respect of inventions generated by his AI system known as 'DABUS', the majority of which have been rejected. Read more

Artificial neural networks (AI) not excluded from patentability and have a “substantial technical contribution” finds E&W High Court

In Emotional Perception AI Ltd v Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks the High Court held that a patent application for an artificial neural network (ANN) did not invoke the statutory exclusion from patentability which applies to  computer programs (as such) under s.1(2)(c) Patents Act 1977 as no computer program was claimed (the ANN involved not being such) and if that was wrong, the system's method of selection through the application of "technical criteria which the system has worked out for itself" satisfied the requirement for a technical contribution for the purposes of escaping that subject matter exclusion in any case. The UK IPO has temporarily suspended its guidance on the examination of AI inventions while it considers the impact of this decision and has issued a practice update specifically relating to the examination of ANNs, but it has also been granted leave to appeal. Read more

EPO insight report on mRNA patents reveals a steep increase in patent filing, shedding light on the dynamic future, and past, of this life-saving technology

The European Patent Office (EPO) has published a report revealing that patents for mRNA technologies, which played a pivotal role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19, have increased at an accelerated rate in recent years. The report highlights that this "above average" number of patents reflects "multinational commercialisation strategies" and serves as a proxy for the "high economic expectation" for these life-saving technologies. Read more