Dawn Ellmore Employment's Blog

IP and Legal Industry Updates


January 2017

Microsoft’s Published Patent Could Help with a Paperless Society

Microsoft was recently granted a patent (filed for in 2015) for an “electronic paper display device” that features an “electrophoretic ink layer” and electrodes that could, when electricity is applied, be used to display text and images.  The full patent is available here.

Smaller sized displays could replace paper while larger displays could be used for advertising that could be more readily changed compared to their traditionally printed counterparts.


Names of Famous People Cannot be Trademarked in China

The Supreme People’s Court (the highest court in the mainland area of China) issued a document stating that names of famous people cannot be used as trade marks.  The document went on to state that if a trade mark brings to mind the name of a famous person then that trade mark will also not be permitted.

The new guidance comes after the Chinese ruling in the Michael Jordan trade mark dispute against Chinese sportswear company Qiaodan that were found to have illegally used his name for commercial gain.


Global Patent Applications Reached 2.9 Million in 2015

There were more than 2.9 million patent applications worldwide in 2015, up 7.8% from 2014.

China’s patent office received 1,101,864 filings in 2015 which represented almost as many applications as the U.S. (589,410), Japan (318,721) and the Republic of Korea (213,694) combined.

China (+18.7%) had the fastest growth, followed by the EPO (+4.8%), the US (+1.8%) and the Republic of Korea (+1.6%).

Computer technology (7.9%) electrical machinery (7.3%) and digital communication (4.9%) represented the highest percentages of worldwide published patent applications.



US Band The Slants’ Trade Mark Case at the US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court to hear a trade mark dispute concerning US dance-rock band The Slants.  The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) refused to register the band’s name as a trade mark on the basis that it was considered an ethnic slur.

Some feel the band should be allowed to trade mark their name as a matter of free speech.  Others believe that if the USPTO’s decision is overturned it may undermine other areas of trade mark law.


Disney Sued for Trade Mark Infringement by UK Boutique

UK luxury boutique store Alice Looking filed a trade mark infringement complaint against Disney in the US courts over its registered ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ US trade marks covering: jewellery, stationery, clothing, toys/games and confectionery classes.

The Disney film ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’, sequel to ‘Alice in Wonderland’, was released in 2016 and Disney began selling products, including clothing, make-up and chess boards bearing the boutique’s mark that same year.


Amazon Granted Patent for Highway Network Controlling Self-Driving Cars

Amazon was recently granted a patent relating to “how autonomous cars navigate reversible lanes”.  In the patent, Amazon outlines a roadway management system that can “assign” lanes to autonomous vehicles depending on where the vehicle is going and what would best alleviate traffic.

The technology appears designed so any carmaker’s vehicles can take advantage of it.


The UK Ranks Third in the Global Innovation Index 2016

The Global Innovation Index (GII) is an annual index (first compiled in 2007) which ranks countries based on their innovative status.  The GII index is based on subjective and objective data from sources including the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.  In the latest, 2016 rankings, the UK was ranked third behind Switzerland (1st) and Sweden (2nd) but above the USA (4th) and Germany (10th).


Europe’s Unified Patent Court to Open in December 2017

It was recently announced that Europe’s Unified Patent Court (UPC) has a target opening date of 1 December 2017.  When operational the UPC will hear disputes relating to unitary patents, a new form of patent protection that will be valid across the EU.

There will be branches of the UPC across the EU with major divisions in Paris, Germany and the UK.

The UK’s UPC branch is in Aldgate Tower and will host the ‘human necessities’ division, focusing on pharmaceuticals and medical devices disputes as well as managing the IT for the whole UPC system.

The courts will abide by EU law and be answerable to the Court of Justice of the European Union although the Intellectual Property Office has stated that the UPC is ‘not an EU institution’.


The New UK IP Minister has been announced as Jo Johnson

It was recently announced that Jo Johnson (brother of Boris Johnson) will take on the job of IP Minister for the UK government. Jo Johnson is a member of parliament (MP) and the current innovation minister.

Jo Johnson’s full biography is available here:

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: