Dawn Ellmore Employment's Blog

IP and Legal Industry Updates

Emotion-sensing Technology Patented by Facebook

American corporation and online social media and social networking service Facebook have patented emotion-sensing technology that uses a user’s laptop webcam or smartphone camera when it is not turned on to detect the user’s emotions.  Using a sophisticated algorithm the technology is able to determine  whether users are happy, sad, depressed or excited (based on their facial movements and expressions) and display Facebook content that is more relevant to user’s current mood.  The adjustment in targeted advertising and content would happen in real time as a response to the data received about a user’s current state of mind.  It would also prevent irrelevant or upsetting content (any content that the user averts their eyes from) being shown to the user again.

You can read more on the patent here:

The patent for this technology was actually granted in 2015 but Facebook has not currently developed it.  Not all patents are precursors to consumer products and technology but they are usually a good indication of future technological focus for companies.  Fears over users’ loss of privacy could be one reason why the technology has not been currently launched.


UK on track to Create World’s Third Largest Biotech Cluster

According to the latest BioIndustry Association (BIA) report the UK is set to create world’s third largest biotech cluster for biosciences (behind the two leading US biotech clusters of Boston and San Francisco) due to UK investment in the sector.

The BIA report suggests that the UK is closing the gap on leading US life science clusters as a result of £1.13bn investment being raised by UK-based biotech companies in 2016.  The UK continues to lead in Europe for biotech development on account of the UK’s 2016 biotech funding combined with a strong pipeline for future drug development.   The data within the report reveals that the combined capital of the UK and Switzerland is equivalent to 55% of the European total meaning that more than half of all European biotech financing will be outside of the EU following Brexit.


Trade Mark Applications Suggest Lidl may open Future Stores in Australia

The German global discount supermarket chain Lidl has recently filed trade marks for LIDL TO GO (Lidl’s convenience assortment) and LIDL YOU (Lidl’s streaming service).

Lidl has gone on the record to say that it has no current plans to enter the Australian market despite having applied for thousands of trade marks in Australia since 2000 (when rival discount supermarket chain first set up in Australia).

In 2016 Lidl filed trade marks covering hundreds of products, contacted suppliers and held set up plan talks with the Australian government following detailed research into the retail Australian market.  In early 2017 however it was reported that Lidl’s current plans remain the expansion into the US market.


EU Businesses want the UK to be part of the New Unitary Patent System

It was recently reported that UK and European Businesses have written to the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy requesting that he move forward with progressing the ratification process of the Unified Patent System.

The introduction of the Unitary Patent (a single patent covering multiple countries) and the establishment of a new patent court, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will affect holders of existing European Patents as well as those seeking new protection for inventions.  Businesses will be able to apply to the European Patent Office for unitary patents which, if granted, would give patent protection for inventions across 25 countries.  The Unified Patent System represents an important reform of the European patent system which many claim is long overdue.  The use of the Unitary Patent aims to reduce practical barriers for companies with regard to trade and export which could be helpful to the UK post Brexit.

For the new UPC system to take effect, at least 13 EU countries (including the three with the most European patents in effect in 2012 i.e. Germany, France and the UK), must pass national legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement that was finalised in 2013. France has already ratified the agreement whilst German ratification has moved closer in the country’s parliament.

In November 2016 the UK government confirmed that the UK will ratify the UPC Agreement but in 2017 there has been much talk and speculation about the new UPC system and whether it will remain on track or indeed whether the UK will continue to be involved.  Firstly there was Brexit in 2016 which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union and then a UK general election scheduled for June 2017.  All the legislation necessary to ratify the Agreement has still to be placed before the UK parliament.  The UK general election on 8 June 2017 will delay the UK’s ratification of a new UPC system as it will be for “the next government” to complete “future steps”.  This will push back the UPC coming into effect to at least mid 2018 when the new framework could become operational.

Companies who wrote the letter claim that the UK should join the Unitary Patent System and remain in post Brexit.  The letter is significant because it shows that UK and European companies want to keep regulations in place where there are clear benefits in reducing red tape.  It was noted that the UK has pushed hard for the Unitary Patent System in recent years with one of the Unified Patent Courts being located in London.


PetLife Files Patent for Treatment of Cancer in Dogs

PetLife Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a US Veterinary Pharmaceutical company) has developed a high potency veterinary cancer medication for pets called VitalZul™ for which they have filed for patent protection in the United States and India.  The patent application is entitled “A Composition for Targeting Cancer in Canines and Humans”.  The patent formulation is intended for both animal and human use, pending further testing.

As the components of the formulation of VitalZul™ are natural as opposed to synthetic testing has shown them to have a very minimal level of toxicity.

Scientists and researchers will continue testing VitalZul™ with the aim of obtaining FDA approval and for the product to be on sale by the end of 2018.


Spotify to set up $43.45 Million Fund to Settle to Copyright Lawsuits

Swedish based music, podcast and video streaming service, Spotify which launched in 2008 recently announced it has agreed to set up a $43.45 million fund to settle a pair of US copyright lawsuits against the company from two indie songwritng artists (Melissa Ferrick and David Lowery).  Spotify claims to be able to offer instant access to 30 million songs via its streaming service.  In 2015 Spotify had a reported estimated value of $8 billion and in 2017 was revealed to have over 50 million paying subscribers.

Melissa Ferrick and David Lowery had pursued class-action cases against Spotify accusing the company of putting their music online without securing permission to reproduce copyrighted material from the tracks’ composers.

Spotify’s proposed settlement of creating a $43.45 million fund to compensate songwriters for the lack of licensing still needs to be approved by a federal judge in New York.


Apple Pay Allegedly In Violation of Financial Transaction Authentication Patents

Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by Apple Inc. that lets users make payments using an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac.  Apple Pay was launched by Apple in September 2014 in partnership with Visa, MasterCard and American Express and is due to have 86 million users by the end of 2017.

Universal Secure Registry (a US technology company) recently sued Apple claiming Apple Pay has violated its patents for financial transaction authentication.  Visa (who is also named in the lawsuit) was given access to the patented technology (which is the subject of this lawsuit) by Universal Secure Registry in 2010 after signing a ten-year nondisclosure agreement, which saw Visa engineers given full access.

The outcome of this lawsuit is awaited.


Brexit Negotiations will Begin on 19 June 2017

Michel Barnier who is leading the Brexit negotiations for the EU has confirmed that negotiations are due to begin on 19 June 2017 following the UK Parliament’s reconvention post the General Election.  Mr Barnier hopes to submit his first report to EU leaders regarding the status of the Brexit negotiations on 23 June 2017 which is exactly a year after the UK voted to leave the EU.

According to the report, negotiations are planned to take place in four-week cycles, each focusing on a different “key issue”.  Crucial topics of discuss will no doubt include the following:

  • the future relationship between the UK and the Unified Patent Court system.
  • Copyright
  • trade marks
  • designs
  • SPC’s
  • other aspects of IP law which are governed wholly or in part by EU legislation.

These Brexit negotiations have been said to be the most important negotiations in the UK’s history.


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