The new year could bring major changes to intellectual property laws in the European Union. Writing for International Lawyers Network, Eddie Powell of the London-based IP firm Fladgate recently published a rundown of what to expect. Here are some of his predictions:
• Patents: For decades, EU member states have contemplated a unitary patent and a Unified Patent Court. The president of the European Patent Office said in December that there is a “complete secondary legal framework” in place and that “the preparations for the unitary patent are complete.” But before the new patent system can become a reality, a handful of member states, including Germany and the U.K., need to ratify the UPC agreement. Powell says to expect key ratifications this year.
• Copyright: Streaming those Netflix shows could be easier throughout Europe this year. In December, the EU Commission proposed a copyright reform making it illegal to prevent subscribers to digital content services in one member state from fully accessing and using the service if they are in another member state. “The Commission hopes that the new regulation will be passed in 2016 for implementation in 2017,” Powell writes.
• Trade Secrets: A new Trade Secrets Directive is in the works this year and Powell says it will establish a minimum threshold for protection across the EU. “The TSD sets out a standardized definition of what is a trade secret, provides for unauthorized acquisition or use of trade secrets to be unlawful and stipulates standard remedies that must be available in all member states,” he explains.
• Trademarks: The EU is making amendments to its European Union Trade Mark and standardized rules for national trademark registrations, according to Powell. There will no longer be a requirement that trademarks be represented graphically. And the defense of the “honest use of a person’s own name” will be confined to people and not available for companies’ use.