Another very active year in the Inetllectual Property (IP) world is drawing to a close and the range of ongoing initiatives and concerns being raised at a local and European level is unprecedented.

On the one hand we see proposals to limit the scope of protection, in terms of the plain packaging proposals in Ireland and the recommendations of the Irish Copyright Review Committee. On the other there are initiatives such as the European proposals for the Protection of Non-Agricultural Indications of Origin, for a Directive on Trade Secrets and the new European Patent and proposed European Patent Court system that will certainly expand, but will also severely complicate the system for IP protection. Meanwhile the ongoing rollout of the new generic top level domain names raises ever new challenges for on-line trade mark protection.

The intellectual property regime overall is only becoming more complex. This is as much due to the constant game of catch-up being played out between the speed of technological development and the legislative process, as it is to the huge difficulty of encouraging an informed political debate that focuses on balancing IP policy while implementing effective enforcement measures. This means that industry needs to place ever more emphasis on understanding the system in order to use it to best advantage and as cost effectively as possible. Our brief review below of the current developments in Ireland and Europe aims to bring you up to speed on some of the latest proposals.

The common practice for the scope of protection of black and white marks
It had been generally accepted in Ireland that the registration of a trade mark in black and white or greyscale (B&W) would provide protection for that mark in all colours.

It's no secret: The proposed trade secrets directive will make things more complex for Ireland
In May this year, the Council of the European Union agreed in principle with the proposal for a directive on trade secrets. A draft has been sent to the EU Parliament to begin the lengthy back and forth negotiations that take place at that point in the EU legislative process.

Confirmed! Ireland is to host a local division of the Unified Patent Court
Following much consideration, the Government announced in November that Ireland had decided to host a local division of the Unified Patent Court.

When the court does not laugh: The CJEU gives its views of the parody exception to copyright
The Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") recently gave guidance in Deckmyn v Vandersteen (Case C-201/13) as to the meaning of Article 5(3)(k) of the Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC (the "Directive"), which allows member states to provide for a parody exception to copyright.

Protection(ism) of non-agricultural indications of origin
The European Commission has launched its Green Paper entitled "Making the most out of Europe's traditional know-how: a possible extension of geographical indication protection of the European Union to non-agricultural products" (the "Green Paper").

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.