Jeremy Phillips’ retirement

imagesJeremy Phillips one of the most well-known IP practitioner and blogmeister in the world announced his retirement. This is quite sad news for the whole IP community. Mr. Phillips through his famous IP Kat blog ( 1709 blog, IP Finance, SPC blog, too) gave us a lot of interesting information and details for the IP Universe. Thank you Mr. Phillips for your contribution. We wish you all the best.

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Changes in Indian trademark law

india-flagThe Controller of Patents, Designs and Trademarks in India published a draft regarding some amendments in the Indian trademark law.  Some of the most interesting and important changes which are proposed are as follow:

  • The proposal suggests 100% increase of almost all fees related to trademark registration in India. Additional 10% extra will be payable in case of paper filing.
  • Affidavits for real use of the filed trademark will be mandatory.
  • The Registrar will have the right to decide whether a trademark is well-known or not and to maintain a list with such kind of marks as well as to remove some of them in case of errors in the process of proving their status.
  • According to the proposal sound marks will be proper for registration in India in the future.

More information can be found here.

Broadcasting via the technique of direct injection – an European court decision

European_Court_of_JusticeThe European court ruled in Case C‑325/14, SBS Belgium N v Belgische Vereniging van Auteurs, Componisten en Uitgevers (SABAM). It concerns the follows:

SABAM, a copyright administration society, represents authors in relation to the grant of permission for third party use of their copyright-protected works and in the collection of the fees for such use.

SBS is a Dutch-language commercial broadcasting organisation which produces and markets television programmes. In the context of its broadcasting activities, SBS operates several private commercial transmitters in Belgium. Its programme schedule includes both programmes which it has produced itself and programmes purchased from domestic and foreign production companies and programme suppliers.

SBS broadcasts its programmes exclusively by a technique named direct injection. This is a two-step process by which SBS transmits its programme-carrying signals ‘point to point’ via a private line to its distributors such as Belgacom, Telenet and TV Vlaanderen. At that stage, those signals cannot be received by the general public. The distributors then send the signals, which may or may not be in encrypted form, to their subscribers so that the latter can view the programmes on their television sets, whether or not with the help of a decoder made available by the distributor. Depending on the distributor, those signals are transmitted by satellite, in the case of TV Vlaanderen, by cable, in the case of Telenet, or by xDSL line, in the case of Belgacom.

SABAM takes the view that SBS, as a broadcasting organisation, makes a communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive 2001/29 by transmitting via the direct injection method. Therefore, the authorisation of the copyright holders is required. It requests, as compensation, the payment of a sum of money

SBS opposes that request. According to SBS, only distributors and other organisations of the same type make a communication to the relevant public in relation to copyright. It considers, therefore, that no remuneration is owed.

The rechtbank van koophandel te Brussel (Commercial Court, Brussels) allowed SABAM’s application and ordered SBS to pay close to a million euros in copyright fees for 2009.

SBS appealed against the judgment of that court to the referring court.

In those circumstances, the Hof van beroep te Brussel (Court of Appeal, Brussels) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following question to the Court for a preliminary ruling:

‘Does a broadcasting organisation which transmits its programmes exclusively via the technique of direct injection — that is to say, a two-step process in which it transmits its programme-carrying signals in an encrypted form via satellite, a fibre-optic connection or another means of transmission to distributors (satellite, cable or xDSL-line), without the signals being accessible to the public during, or as a result of, that transmission, and in which the distributors then send the signals to their subscribers so that the latter may view the programmes — make a communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive 2001/29?’

The Court’s decision:

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that a broadcasting organisation does not carry out an act of communication to the public, within the meaning of that provision, when it transmits its programme-carrying signals exclusively to signal distributors without those signals being accessible to the public during, and as a result of that transmission, those distributors then sending those signals to their respective subscribers so that they may watch those programmes, unless the intervention of the distributors in question is just a technical means, which it is for the national court to ascertain.

 

Brief IP news

briefs_1131. A small group of countries are responsible for the revolutionary innovations in technology. For more information here.

2. USA: the utility requirement under patent law. For more information here.

3. Red Dot Design Award 2015 awards for communication designs. For more information here.

‘Fair compensation’ – European court’s decision

juropean-justiceThe European court ruled in C‑572/13, Hewlett-Packard Belgium SPRL v Reprobel SCRL. The case concerns the following:

Hewlett-Packard imports into Belgium reprographic devices for business and household use, including ‘multifunction’ devices, the main function of which is the printing of documents at different speeds depending on the print quality.

Reprobel is the management company entrusted with collecting and distributing sums corresponding to fair compensation under the reprography exception.

By fax of 16 August 2004, Reprobel informed Hewlett-Packard that the sale of ‘multifunction’ printers by that company should entail, in principle, the payment of a levy of EUR 49.20 per printer.

As the meetings held and correspondence exchanged between Hewlett-Packard and Reprobel did not result in an agreement regarding the rate to be applied to those ‘multifunction’ printers, by writ of 8 March 2010 Hewlett-Packard summoned Reprobel before the Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles (Court of First Instance, Brussels). It claimed that that court should rule that no remuneration was owed for the printers which it had offered for sale, or, in the alternative, that the remuneration which it had paid corresponded to the fair compensation owed pursuant to the Belgian legislation, interpreted in the light of Directive 2001/29. It also claimed that Reprobel should be ordered to carry out within the year, on pain of a periodic penalty payment of EUR 10 million, a study consistent with that referred to in Article 26 of the Royal Decree and concerning, inter alia, the number of printers in dispute and their actual use as copiers of protected works for the purpose of comparing that use with the actual use of all other devices for the reproduction of protected works.

On 11 March 2010, Reprobel summoned Hewlett-Packard before that court so that the latter might be ordered to pay to Reprobel the provisional sum of EUR 1 towards the remunerative payments which Reprobel considered were owed pursuant to the Royal Decree.

The Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles (Court of First Instance, Brussels) joined those two sets of proceedings.

By judgment of 16 November 2012, the Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles (Court of First Instance, Brussels) ruled that the first paragraph of Article 59 and the third paragraph of Article 61 of the LCRR were incompatible with EU law.Hewlett-Packard and Reprobel have appealed against that judgment to the referring court.

The Cour d’appel de Bruxelles (Court of Appeal, Brussels) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

‘1. Must the term “fair compensation” contained in Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 be interpreted differently depending on whether the reproduction on paper or a similar medium effected by the use of any kind of photographic technique or by some other process having similar effects is carried out by any user or by a natural person for private use and for ends that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial? If the answer is in the affirmative, on what criteria must that difference of interpretation be based?

2. Must Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 be interpreted as authorising the Member States to fix the fair compensation payable to rightholders in the form of:

(a) lump-sum remuneration paid by the manufacturer, importer or intra-Community acquirer of devices enabling protected works to be copied, at the time when such devices are put into circulation on national territory, the amount of which is calculated solely by reference to the speed at which the copier is capable of producing a number of copies per minute, without being otherwise linked to any harm suffered by rightholders; and

(b) proportional remuneration, determined solely by means of a unit price multiplied by the number of copies produced, which varies depending on whether or not the person liable for payment has cooperated in the collection of that remuneration, which is payable by natural or legal persons making copies of works or, as the case may be, in lieu of those persons, by those who, for consideration or free of charge, make a reproduction device available to others?

If the reply to this question is in the negative, what are the relevant and consistent criteria that the Member States must apply in order to ensure that, in accordance with European Union law, the compensation may be regarded as fair and that a fair balance is maintained between the persons concerned?

3. Must Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 be interpreted as authorising the Member States to allocate half of the fair compensation due to rightholders to the publishers of works created by authors, the publishers being under no obligation whatsoever to ensure that the authors benefit, even indirectly, from some of the compensation of which they have been deprived?

4. Must Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 be interpreted as authorising the Member States to introduce an undifferentiated system for recovering the fair compensation due to rightholders in the form of a lump-sum and an amount for each copy made, which, implicitly but indisputably, covers in part the copying of sheet music and counterfeit reproductions?’

The court decision:

1. Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that, with regard to the phrase ‘fair compensation’ contained in those provisions, it is necessary to draw a distinction according to whether the reproduction on paper or a similar medium effected by the use of any kind of photographic technique or by some other process having similar effects is carried out by any user or by a natural person for private use and for ends that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial.

2. Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 preclude national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which authorises the Member State in question to allocate a part of the fair compensation payable to rightholders to the publishers of works created by authors, those publishers being under no obligation to ensure that the authors benefit, even indirectly, from some of the compensation of which they have been deprived.

3. Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 preclude, in principle, national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which introduces an undifferentiated system for recovering fair compensation which also covers the copying of sheet music, and preclude such legislation which introduces an undifferentiated system for recovering fair compensation which also covers counterfeit reproductions made from unlawful sources.

4. Article 5(2)(a) and Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 preclude national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which introduces a system that combines, in order to finance the fair compensation payable to rightholders, two forms of remuneration, namely, first, lump-sum remuneration paid prior to the reproduction operation by the manufacturer, importer or intra-Community acquirer of devices enabling protected works to be copied, at the time when such devices are put into circulation on national territory, and, second, proportional remuneration paid after that reproduction operation and determined solely by means of a unit price multiplied by the number of copies produced, which is payable by the natural or legal persons who make those copies, in so far as:

–  the lump-sum remuneration paid in advance is calculated solely by reference to the speed at which the device concerned is capable of producing copies;

–  the proportional remuneration recovered after the fact varies according to whether or not the person liable for payment has cooperated in the recovery of that remuneration;

–   the combined system, taken as a whole, does not include mechanisms, in particular for reimbursement, which allow the complementary application of the criterion of actual harm suffered and the criterion of harm established as a lump sum in respect of different categories of users.