Worldwide: Intellectual Property News

Last Updated: 19 August 2007

PATENTS

Australia

Online register created for Australian patents
Non-profit organisation Cambia has extended its worldwide patent resource, 'the Patent Lens', to include the full text of over 115,000 granted patents in Australia, and 580,000 patent applications in Australia. The website enables anyone to search the full text of Australian patents without charge. CEO Richard Jefferson stated, 'Until now, the crucial information in Australian patents…simply has not been searchable…Worldwide innovation depends on clarity and transparency of patent rights'. The site also links to 7 million international patent documents in the US, Europe and WIPO.

The press release can be accessed at:
http://www.patentlens.net/daisy/patentlens/3537/version/default/part/AttachmentData/data/Patent%20Lens%20Press%20Release.pdf

International

US Patent reform legislation passed by a committee of the House of Representatives
A bill which would reform US patent legislation has been passed by a House committee of the House of Representatives. If made law, the bill would alter the way patent damages are calculated, and change the way patents are awarded bringing the US position in line with the more common method internationally. Presently, patents are awarded in the US to the first person to invent something, however the new law awards a patent to the first person to file for one. The object of the amendment is said to ensure that patents continue to encourage innovation. The bill awaits a hearing by the Full House of Representatives.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.out-law.com/page-8318

Pepsi wins patent dispute against Coca Cola
Pepsi has successfully defended a patent infringement claim brought by Coca Cola in a US District Court. Coca Cola sued PepsiCo in 2005 claiming that PepsiCo's use of a 'Helical Coil Bag', a collapsible bag which dispenses syrup for fountain soft drink, infringed their patent for a collapsible container. The Court held there was no patent infringement on the basis that the invention differed from Coca Cola's patented invention in that the 'helical coil' was not secured inside the bag.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/business/20070726-1122-coca-cola-pepsilawsuit.Html

COPYRIGHT

Australia

Australia introduces moral rights for performers
The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty came into force in Australia on 26 July, resulting in new rights being given to individual performers. While most of Australia's obligations under the treaties were already fulfilled, provisions relating to moral rights for performers were dependent on the treaties coming into force. Individual performers now have the right of attribution of a performance, the right not to have a performance falsely attributed, and the right of integrity of a performance. These rights apply to live performances, including sound recordings of live performances.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.wipo.int/edocs/notdocs/en/wppt/treaty_wppt_67.html

International

UK Government considers copyright exemption for moving music to MP3 players
The UK Government is considering making an exception to copyright legislation to allow format-shifting for private use. The Government will undertake a public consultation on the matter later this year to ascertain the opinions of rights holders and copyright users before any legislative amendments are made. The Government commented that many users of MP3 players are unaware that transferring music from CDs which they own to their MP3 player or computer is a breach of copyright law, and changing the law will improve the position. The plans do not address the issue of compensation to rightholders. In Australia, provisions which legalise format shifting of music for personal use came into force last year with the Copyright Amendment Act 2006.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.out-law.com/page-8325

PASSING OFF

BMW unsuccessful in passing off claim against Nissan in Canada
BMW has been unsuccessful in passing off proceedings against Nissan in the Canadian Federal Court over various registered and unregistered trade marks for cars involving the letter 'M'. In 2005, BMW sued Nissan for passing off, trade mark infringement and depreciation of goodwill. The District Court, at first instance, upheld the passing off claim and dismissed the other claims, concluding that Nissan's use of M and M6 were likely to cause confusion with BMW's wares, and violated BMW's rights. On appeal, the Federal Court overturned the decision and held that because BMW's use of the 'M' mark was limited to advertisements and promotional materials, this was not enough to constitute 'use' under the Act. Further, BMW failed to show the existence of damage. BMW may appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.managingip.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1397874&Title=BMW%20loses%20passing%20off%20claim%20against%20Nissan

INTERNET

Australia

ACCC claims that Google's advertising system promotes deceptive Practices
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has brought an action against the Trading Post Australia Pty Ltd, a classifieds business, and various Google subsidiaries, alleging misleading and deceptive conduct. The issue concerns Google's pay-per-click advertising system which allows companies to advertise on sites when their competitor's trade mark is searched. The ACCC charges that the Trading Post breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) when the business names 'Kloster Ford' and 'Charlestown Toyota', auto dealerships who compete with the Trading Post for auto sales, appeared in the title of Google-sponsored links to the Trading Post's web site. The ACCC also alleges that Google, in allowing the links to be published on its website and by failing to distinguish sponsored links from 'organic' search results, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct. While Google has faced similar proceedings overseas, the issue has not previously been approached from a trade practices perspective in Australia.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/792088/fromItemId/2332

International

Major search engines Google, Yahoo and Ask.com strengthen privacy Policy
Search engines Yahoo and Ask.com have increased the privacy protections afforded to their users after Google announced earlier this year that it would make search engine logs anonymous after 18 months. Microsoft also said it would match Google's privacy protection policy, while Ask.com announced it would allow users to delete their search history at any time. Yahoo said it would remove search logs after 13 months. Microsoft and Ask.com are calling on the Internet industry to create guidelines which dictate a single standardised approach to replace individual privacy policies regarding search logs and online advertising.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://www.out-law.com/page-8327
http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/business/soa/Microsoft-promises-privacy-for-Web-searchers/0,139023166,339280366,00.htm?ref=search

US Court refuses grant of injunction in eBay 'Buy it Now' case
A Judge in the US District Court has denied a request by MercExchange, a Virginian software company, for a permanent injunction against eBay to prevent it from using a 'Buy it Now' patent which allows online shoppers to purchase items at a fixed price. The Court sanctioned eBay's continued use of the patent provided that they pay for the right. This decision follows a 2003 decision in which eBay was found to have infringed the patent, and MercExchange was awarded $US25 million. The Court noted that its decision to refuse the injunction has no impact on the earlier award for damages.

Further information can be accessed at:
http://investing.reuters.co.uk/news/articleinvesting.aspx?type=tnBusinessNews&storyID=2007-07-28T002215Z_01_N27344817_RTRIDST_0_BUSINESS-EBAYMERCEXCHANGE-DC.XML

http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,22156514-5013040,00.html

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