Dawn Ellmore Employment's Blog

IP and Legal Industry Updates


September 2016

The Value Behind a Trade Mark

A trade mark is a word, name, symbol, or design used to identify and distinguish goods in commerce. Businesses across all industries use trade marks to identify a particular brand via words, logos, and/or colours: such marks prompt recognition through marketing and branding.  When successful, consumers will positively associate the brands with their goods and services adding value to a company.  A strong trade mark leads to legitimacy of a company increasing the value of their goods and/or services.

As the International Trade Mark Association defines it, “the value of a trade mark lies in the goodwill associated with that trade mark. Goodwill is an intangible asset that provides added value to the trade mark owner’s worth (such as a recognizable brand).”

By filing for a trade mark, the registrants alert the country of its trade mark and the goods/services provided under it. Registering a trade mark grants the right to use the ® symbol in connection with the word, name, symbol, or design, which serves to deter potential infringers.

Only an officially registered trade mark grants a company the right to sue for infringement, recover profits, damages and costs for such infringement, or block the importation of goods bearing an infringing mark.


Walmart Patents Self-driving Shopping Trolleys

American multinational retail corporation Walmart filed a patent application in March 2016 for a system which allows shopping trolleys to drive themselves and assist customers with their shopping in store.  The patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 8 September 2016.

The shopping trolleys will be fitted with a camera, sensors and a detachable motor.  According to the patent application an available shopping trolley can be called to a customer, navigate the store using its sensors and abandoned trolleys will be able to return to the docking station.


Honda Patents an Augmented Reality Pedestrian Detection System

Honda has recently patented a system enabling drivers to see pedestrians out of their field of vision using sensors and augmented reality.

According to the patent, sensors around the car would detect pedestrians within a predetermined distance and show their location on the windshield by displaying an avatar on an augmented reality display. The system would come into operation when drivers are approaching intersections.  The patented system represents a safety feature to give drivers a better view of their surroundings.


UK and China Instigate Closer IP Partnership

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, UK Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property conducted an IP delegation between 20-27 August 2016 in China to reinforce UK and China IP collaboration to support innovation and creativity in both countries.

Agreements and initiatives observed during the delegation included the following:

  • agreement on IP protection between internet giant Tencent, the China Britain Business Council and British Businesses
  • new UK-China Film and TV toolkit
  • factsheet to support Chinese companies with overseas IP protection and technology commercialisation
  • the co-hosting of both the 3rd UK-China IP Symposium and the UK-China Trade Mark Summit


Cambodia Joins the Patent Corporation Treaty

Cambodia joined the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) on 8 September 2016 taking the number of contracting states to 151.  The PCT will enter into force in Cambodia on 8 December 2016.  This development will help the Camdoia’s inventors seek patent protection for their inventions internationally.


European Commission Announces New EU Copyright Rules

The European Commission recently announced new EU copyright rules which should make it easier for musicians, TV makers and publishers to make money out of their work online.

The new rules require video sites such as YouTube to use technological solutions to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works and either quickly remove them or get authorisation for copyrighted videos.  The aim of this is to strengthen rights holders’ negotiating position.

The new proposals still need to be approved by the European parliament and will take some time to come into force.

Sources: and

Latest PCT Patent Facts and Figures

Applicants trying to protect an invention in more than one country file a national or regional patent application with their national or regional patent office. Within 12 months of the filing date of the application, they file an international application under the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) beginning the international phase. As the application is valid in all contracting states, applicants can postpone the payment of substantial fees and costs, such as the translation of the application into national languages.

  • In 2015 PCT applications grew by 1.7% to 218,000 PCT applications filed, the fifth consecutive year of growth.
  • Applicants from the US accounted for the largest number of PCT applications (57,385).
  • Filings in North America decreased by 6.7% probably explained by the large number of filings in 2014 on account of changes in the US patent system.
  • Asia had the sharpest growth in filings (+9%). China (+16.8%), Republic of Korea (+11.5%) and Japan (+4.4%).
  • Filings in Europe remained stable (+0.03%).
  • The top five applicants were largely unchanged from 2014. Huawei Technologies (China) remained the top PCT applicant (3,898 applications), Qualcomm Incorporated (US ) was second (2,442 applications) and ZTE (China) was third (2,155 applications).
  • Computer technology remained the field of technology with the most applications (16,385) for the second consecutive year followed by digital communication (16,047) and electrical machinery (14,612).


Google Patents Technology for Driverless Cars to Detect Emergency Services and Respond

In 2009 Google announced it was developing driverless cars which would be available to the public in 2020.  The driverless technology industry is expected to be worth £900 billion globally by 2025.

Google has now patented sensor technology to enable the driverless cars to automatically detect police vehicles and respond by moving out of the way or pulling over.  The sensors can identify red or blue colours and the flashing sequence of the emergency services.  Once detected the sensors trigger an alert so the driverless vehicles can move out of the way or pull over to be questioned.


Where Best to File Patents Internationally

Factors for patentees to consider when deciding where to file patents internationally:

  • Where the patentee and/or potential infringers have a presence (patentee has best knowledge)
  • Patentee’s business strategy regarding patents (patentee has best knowledge)
  • Standards of patentability in the jurisdiction for invention subject matter (help needed from IP or other expert)
  • Restrictions on patent rights within the jurisdiction for invention subject matter (help needed from IP or other expert)
  • Degree of enforceability in the jurisdiction (help needed from IP or other expert)
  • Process, cost, and timeline to apply for and obtain a patent in a particular jurisdiction (help needed from IP or other expert)

The relative importance of the above factors will depend on patentee’s business plan and goals.


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