Dawn Ellmore Employment's Blog

IP and Legal Industry Updates


intellectual property

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.


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:

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Steps Down as UK Government IP Minister

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG stepped down as IP minister after being appointed Commercial Secretary to the UK Government Treasury on 21 December 2016.  A new replacement IP Minister has not yet been announced.

Scientists Battle Ownership of Patents for Gene-Editing Tool

A gene-editing technology called CRISPR-cas9 allows scientists to make precise edits in DNA that could lead to new medical therapies, research tools and new crop varieties.  This has been called the biggest biotechnology breakthrough in the past 30 or 40 years which could result in the most valuable biotech patents.  Scientists also assume CRISPR will earn Nobel Prizes for the scientists who are proved inventors of this technology.

Unfortunately it is not clear who owns the idea.  US patent judges will hear oral arguments from high-prestige universities and well-regarded scientists but this is just the first step in a process that’s likely to last through 2017.


UK Autumn Statement: Increased R&D Investment Spells Good News for IP Industry

Recently the UK government released its Autumn Statement announcing additional funding for research and development (R&D).  The government plans to put £2 billion more per year into R&D funding resulting in a total boost of £4.7 billion by 2020 to 2021.

This funding will cover R&D funding for businesses and universities with R&D projects in industries including: e.g. artificial intelligence, robotics and industrial biotechnology.  The aim is to make the UK attractive for business investment and to allow the country to compete in innovative research on a worldwide stage.



Does a Patent Offer the Best Protection for Your Invention?

Before applying for a patent, you should make sure it really is the best option for your invention.  Patents should not be confused with the other kinds of intellectual property rights available:

  • utility models – to protect technical innovations which might not qualify for a patent
  • copyright – protects creative and artistic works such as literary texts, musical compositions and broadcasts against unauthorised copying and certain other uses
  • trade marks – distinctive signs identifying brands of products or services; they may be made up of two- or three-dimensional components such as letters, numbers, words, shapes, logos or pictures, or even sounds
  • designs – protect a product’s visual appearance, i.e. its shape, contours or colour.


China Gets Patent World Record for 1m Filings in a Year

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently confirmed China had become the first country to file 1 million patent applications in a single year.  China is thus driving Asian-led growth in innovation worldwide:

  • 62% of global filing activity for patents is in Asia
  • 55% of global activity in trade marks is in Asia
  • 68% of design applications are in Asia.

The majority of these 2015 patent applications were in the following technology: electrical engineering (including telecoms, computer technology & semiconductors, measurement instruments).  Whilst most of these applications were for domestic protection in patents, trade marks and designs there had been an increase in China’s applications for international patents.


Should Computers be Named as Patent Inventors?

As current patent law stands only a human individual can file as an inventor on a patent who conceived of the idea. Defined as “the formation in the mind of the inventor of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention as it is thereafter to be applied in practice.”  Some people want to change the patent law to allow computers to receive patents.

Yes No
Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems have been making patentable inventions for over 20 years, (e.g. The Creativity Machine composing music and inventing the design of the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrushes).

Without a change in the law there will be less innovation, caused by uncertainty, which would prevent industry capitalising on potential of creative computers.

We could see disputes over inventorship, with individuals taking credit for inventions that are not genuinely theirs.

If a computer’s programming is sophisticated enough that it can “invent,” the patent should go to the copyrighted software designer or the owner of the machine because it would be their inventions (or property) that actually enabled the patentable discovery to be made.

Allowing computers to receive patents would be destructive to humans by transforming objects into “persons.”


 Sources: and

Recent Survey Confirms Intellectual Property is Good for the European Economy

A second EU-wide study was recently published by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).  The study concerned the impact of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) (i.e. patents, trade marks, designs, copyright) on the European economy in terms of GDP, employment, wages and trade.

The study found the following:

  • 42% of total economic activity in the EU (some €5.7 trillion annually) is generated by IPR-intensive industries.
  • 38% of all employment in the EU (82 million jobs) stems from such industries that have a higher than average use of IP rights.
  • Average wages in IPR-intensive industries are more than 46% higher than in other industries.

According to the report, about half of all EU industries are IP-intensive and these account for approximately 90% of the EU’s trade with the rest of the world.


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