QuickLinks - Copyright, trademarks and patents
QuickLinks - Copyright, trademarks and patents
Copyright, trademarks and patents
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Issue no. 413 - 20 February 2011
EU - European Commission may compel ISPs to combat users' IP infringement
The Commission has published a
on the effectiveness of 2004's Directive on Intellectual Property Rights. It says that rates of intellectual property infringement in the EU are "alarming". The Directive has had some effect, but that it was not designed to deal with online piracy. Current laws are not strong enough to combat online IP infringement effectively and powers to compel internet service providers (ISPs) and other intermediaries to take more proactive steps should be examined.
EU - Rights holders should register to gain full copyright protection, EU Commission advised
Rights owners should have to register with EU authorities in order to exercise all their rights under copyright law, the European Commission has been advised. A committee of three experts has said that as a measure to prevent the creation of 'orphan works' whose owner is not known the creators of material should have to register to receive their full copyright rights. The
also said that libraries, galleries and museums should be able to digitise copyrighted works that are out of commercial distribution if private owners do not do so. A 'high level reflection group', the Comité des Sages, has submitted proposals to inform the European Commission's policies on digital culture and its library of digitised cultural artefacts, Europeana. The Comité is made up of advertising executive Maurice Lé vy; German national library chair Elisabeth Niggemann; and author Jacques De Decker. "Preventing orphan works in the future is a main concern," said the report. "In order to avoid orphan works in the future in an environment where creative production is exploding online (e.g. user generated content) without a clear indication of how to contact the creator, some form of registration should be considered as a precondition for a full exercise of rights." "The Comité realises that this would require a change in the Berne Convention and related instruments," it said, referring to a legal instrument binding many countries to laws respecting copyright. "Its members consider that a discussion on 'refreshing' the Convention should be taken up in the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and promoted by the Europea Commission." The Comité stressed the importance of ensuring the number of orphan works is reduced.
Google tweaks to tackle online piracy
Google has said it will tweak its search service in an attempt to tackle online piracy, following lobbying by the music industry. The search giant will implement four changes, including the removal of words that are associated with piracy from appearing in its autocomplete feature. However, it will not prevent sites that host illegal copyright material from appearing in its search results. The music industry said the measures did not go far enough. See
Making copyright work better online
(Google Public Policy Blog).
Un soutien solide a la culture française
(Google European Public Policy Blog)
YouTube, la SACD, la SCAM and l´ADAGP - trois sociétés de gestion collectives représentant un large spectre d´auteurs français, créateurs, compositeurs et artistes - ont signé un accord de soutien aux auteurs français. Ce partenariat vise a encourager une diffusion plus large d'émissions et de films français sur la plateforme YouTube en France. En permettant aux auteurs de bénéficier d'une juste rémunération pour l'exploitation de leurs uvres, cet accord encourage la création de programmes originaux français et leur diffusion sur Internet.
US - White House will propose new digital copyright laws
The Obama administration has drafted new proposals to curb Internet piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement that it says it will send to the U.S. Congress "in the very near future." It's also applauding a controversial copyright treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, saying it will "aid right-holders and the U.S. government to combat infringement" once it enters into effect. Those disclosures came from a
by Victoria Espinel, whom President Obama selected as the first intellectual property enforcement coordinator.
Issue no. 412 - 28 November 2010
ACTA agreement negotiations successfully concluded
ACTA aims to establish a comprehensive, first-time, international framework that will assist Parties to the agreement in their efforts to effectively combat the infringement of intellectual property rights, in particular the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy. It will include state-of-the-art provisions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including provisions on civil, criminal, and border enforcement measures, robust cooperation mechanisms among ACTA Parties to assist in their enforcement efforts, and establishment of best practices for effective IPR enforcement. Participants in the negotiations constructively resolved nearly all substantive issues and produced a consolidated and largely finalized text of the proposed agreement, which will be submitted ad referendum to their respective authorities. The participants agreed to work expeditiously to resolve the small number of outstanding issues that require further examination in capitals, with a view to finalizing the text of the agreement as promptly as possible. See
Consolidated draft text
AU - Google scotches Australian 'Groggle' search
An Australian hoping to quench his nation's thirst via the web has agreed to change the name of his alcohol search site after protests from Google. Cameron Collie set up Groggle to allow users to find the best-priced "grog" in nearby stores. Search giant Google complained at his effort to trademark the name, prompting a six-month legal wrangle. Now the name Groggle has been changed to a more conventional title, Drinkle, ahead of its launch in 2011.
Billions at stake in the smartphone patent wars
The smartphone patent wars raging in the US have drawn players such as Nokia, Apple, RIM and Google into open hostilities.
EU - A digital world of opportunities - Neelie Kroes on copyright
Speech by Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Forum d'Avignon - Les rencontres internationales de la culture, de l'économie et des médias, Avignon, 5th November 2010. We must ensure that copyright serves as a building block, not a stumbling block. Our fragmented copyright system is ill-adapted to the real essence of art, which has no frontiers. It irritates the public ... and leaves a vacuum served by illegal content. It suits vested interests to avoid a copyright debate, or to frame the debate in moralistic terms that merely demonise millions but that is not sustainable. Time alone will not solve the problems that have emerged. Instead of a dysfunctional copyright system based on a series of cultural Berlin walls, I want a return to sense.
U.S. seizes sites linked to copyright infringement
The U.S. government has launched a major crackdown on online copyright infringement, seizing dozens of sites linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods. Torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as Torrent-finder.com, 2009jerseys.com, and Dvdcollects.com found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, "This domain name has been seized by ICE--Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court."
US - Facebook looks to trademark the word 'face'
The social networking giant Facebook is a few steps away from trademarking the word face, online documents reveal. The site has been asked to detail a "statement of use" by the US Patent and Trademark Office, explaining how it intends to use the word.
Who's suing who in mobile
Interactive chart of companies involved in litigation.
Issue no. 411 - 3 October 2010
European police in pirate raids
Police have conducted a series of raids across Europe in one of its biggest crackdowns on file-sharing. Police targeted 48 sites in countries including the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Hungary. In Sweden, seven premises were raided including PRQ, which is believed to host Pirate Bay and whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. Co-ordinated by Belgian police, the operation was the culmination of a two-year investigation.
US - White House Calls Meeting on Rogue Online Pharmacies
(Krebs on Security)
he Obama administration is inviting leaders of the top Internet domain name registrars and registries to attend a three-hour meeting at the White House about voluntary ways to crack down on Web sites that are selling counterfeit prescription medications. The invitation, sent by White House Senior Adviser for Intellectual Property Enforcement Andrew J. Klein, urges select recipients to attend a meeting on Sept. 29 with senior White House and cabinet officials, including Victoria Espinel, the Obama administration's intellectual property enforcement coordinator. "The purpose of this meeting is to discuss illegal activity taking place over the internet generally, and more specifically, voluntary protocols to address the illegal sale of counterfeit non-controlled prescription medications on-line," the invitation states. The meeting appears to be a continuation of the administration's Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, an initiative unveiled in June that promised to "address unlawful activity on the internet, such as illegal downloading and illegal internet pharmacies."
Issue no. 410 - 6 August 2010
ACTA Coming Down to Fight Between U.S. and Europe
With the leak of the
full ACTA text
the simmering fight between the U.S. and the E.U. on ACTA is now being played out in the open. The biggest source of disagreement remains scope of the agreement, with the U.S. (supported by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore) pushing for an agreement limited to trademark and copyright, while the E.U. and Switzerland seeking to extend it to all intellectual property.
EU - Google to allow trade marks as keywords across Europe
Google will let companies use competitors' trade marks as keywords to trigger search adverts in all European countries for the first time. The move will test the interpretation of a number of EU and national court rulings on the controversial practice. Google's AdWords system sells the right to have an ad displayed when a specific term is searched for in the Google search engine. The adverts are displayed beside the natural search results, ranked by which advertiser bid most and by the ad's relevance. Many of the keywords sponsored by companies will be general words, such as 'car', or their own brand names. But some advertisers use competitors' brands as triggers for their own ads. Some companies claim that this practice is an infringement of the competitor company's trade mark rights, and courts in France have ruled that the practice infringes trade mark rights.The European Court of Justice (ECJ), though, ruled that a trade mark right is only infringed if the advert creates confusion about what company is behind the advert.
Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age
(New York Times)
Professors used to deal with plagiarism by admonishing students to give credit to others and to follow the style guide for citations, and pretty much left it at that. But many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed. It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism.
Issue no. 409 - 6 June 2010
EU must break down national copyright barriers, says Commissioner
Piracy has created the single market in music and films that EU legislators have failed to build, European Commission Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said. Kroes told a business leaders' convention in Brussels that pirates had done what single market regulations could not and established the borderless distribution of audio visual material over the internet. She said that the EU nations must work together to create a legal single market in digital goods. See
A Digital Agenda for Europe
Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, European Business Leaders Convention Brussels, 4th May 2010.
File-sharers are content industry's "largest customers"
Drawing on a major study of Dutch file-sharers, Prof. Nico van Eijk of the University of Amsterdam concludes, "These figures show that there is no sharp divide between file sharers and others in their buying behaviour. On the contrary, when it comes to attending concerts, and expenses on DVDs and games, file sharers are the industry's largest customers... There does not appear to be a clear relationship between the decline in sales and file sharing." In fact, the
found that file-sharers often buy more content, especially when it comes to films and games.
Les partis pirates de 40 pays se fédèrent autour du PPI
Réunis à Bruxelles du 16 au 18 avril 2010, 70 représentants de partis pirates d'une vingtaine de pays ont donné naissance officiellement Ã une nouvelle organisation, appelée Pirate Parties International, ou
Parti pirate international
. Le PPI existait déjà, mais sans avoir de statuts clairs. Cette association à but non lucratif, de droit belge et existant depuis fin 2009, est désormais dotée d'un comité de direction élu et composé de six personnes, avec deux coprésidents à sa tête, le Luxembourgeois Jerry Weyer et l'Allemand Gregory Engels
UK - Ofcom unveils anti-piracy policy
Lists of Britons who infringe copyright are to be drawn up by the UK's biggest ISPs, under proposals from the regulator Ofcom. The plan is contained in a
draft code of practice
it hopes will curb copyright infringement. Names and the number of times individuals infringe will be logged. Music firms and movie studios can request details from the list so that they can decide whether to start their own action against serial infringers.
Issue no. 408 - 25 April 2010
ES - Spanish court rules that links to p2p content are legal
A civil court in Barcelona has recently ruled against SGAE (the Spanish collective society of authors and editors) in a case brought against Jesus Guerra who was administrating a site with links to P2P content. SGAE accused Guerra of infringing copyrights by having reproduced and communicated to the public works owned by their constituency. The defendant argued that his website was a non-profit site only providing links that could be used by users only through eMule, a P2P application, to connect to other Internet users. No content was actually hosted on that specific website. The judge ruled in favour of the defendant arguing that linking "does not suppose distributing, reproducing or making publicly available copyrighted works." In the judge's opinion, the creation of an index of links is not an infringing practice as linking is an integrant part of the Internet.
EU Demands Canada Completely Overhaul Its Intellectual Property Laws
Late last year, a draft of the European Union proposal for the intellectual property chapter of the Canada - EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement leaked online. The leak revealed that the EU was seeking some significant changes to Canadian IP laws. Negotiations have continued and I have now received an
updated copy of the draft chapter
, complete with proposals from both the EU and Canada. The breadth of the demands are stunning - the EU is demanding nothing less than a complete overhaul of Canadian IP laws including copyright, trademark, databases, patent, geographic indications, and even plant variety rights.
Michael Geist on ACTA
Podcast by Michael Geist, Law Professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, discusses the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, better known as ACTA. The discussion also turns to secrecy and transparency issues with ACTA and recent efforts to shed light on the text of the treaty.
UK - Anti-piracy firm defends net hunt
Net pirates could be cut off from the net under a new law Anti-piracy firm DigiProtect, which has teamed up with UK law firm ACS:Law to send thousands of letters to alleged net pirates, has defended its actions. It follows widespread condemnation of their methods, which involves mass-mailing alleged file-sharers asking them to pay a fine or face court. UK consumer magazine Which? has received complaints from people saying they have been wrongly accused.
UK - Indexing company liable for users' infringement, says High Court
A company which indexes and sorts postings to Usenet groups is liable for the copyright infringement of its users when they download films, software and television programmes, the High Court has said. Newzbin is a company that charged users 30p per week for access to its indexing and collation of media files posted to discussion groups on the Usenet system. It claimed that it did no more than a search engine such as Google and should not be liable for its users' actions but the Court heard that it told volunteer editors to carry out collating and reporting tasks to make it easier to download material and told them to focus their activity on films. Because of its knowledge of the infringements and its editorial involvement in making that infringement easier it shares liability for the downloading, the Court said.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation v Newzbin
 EWHC 608
(Ch). See also
Why the Newzbin ruling helps web hosts
UK - Measures to Tackle Online Copyright Infringement: OFCOM Terms of Reference
The Digital Economy Act has created new responsibilities for Ofcom to adopt measures aimed at significantly reducing levels of unlawful file sharing via peer-to-peer online networks. The Act has set out two initial obligations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in order to secure a coordinated approach, involving both copyright owners and ISPs. Should those initial measures fail to significantly reduce levels of unlawful file sharing the Secretary of State may require that ISPs implement technical measures against serious repeat infringers.
UK - The legislative farce of the Digital Economy Act
by Struan Robertson. The Digital Economy Act should never have been passed. Regardless of your view on whether copyright infringing websites should be blocked or infringing users cut off from the internet, this was no way to pass such a controversial and sweeping piece of legislation. It deserved proper debate and proper scrutiny but it received neither. see
Digital Economy Bill passed by House of Commons
(OUT-Law news) and
by Lilian Edwards.
US - Anti-counterfeiting agreement raises constitutional concerns
by Jack Goldsmith and Lawrence Lessig. The much-criticized cloak of secrecy that has surrounded the Obama administration's negotiation of the multilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was broken. The leaked draft of ACTA belies the U.S. trade representative's assertions that the agreement would not alter U.S. intellectual property law. And it raises the stakes on the constitutionally dubious method by which the administration proposes to make the agreement binding on the United States. The goal of the trade pact is to tighten enforcement of global intellectual property rules. The leaked draft, though incomplete in many respects, makes clear that negotiators are considering ideas and principles not reflected in U.S. law. ACTA could, for example, pressure Internet service providers -- such as Comcast and Verizon -- to kick users offline when they (or their children) have been accused of repeated copyright infringement because of content uploaded to sites such as YouTube. It also might oblige the United States to impose criminal liability on those who "incite" copyright violation. The draft more generally addresses "IP infringement" and thus could extend some of its rules to trademark and possibly patent law in ways that, after inevitable international compromises, will depart from U.S. law. It also contemplates creating an international "oversight council" to supervise (and possibly amend) aspects of the agreement. See also
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
by Margot Kaminski. See leaked
text of ACTA
dated 18 January 2010 (PDF) and in
Issue no. 407 - 28 March 2010
And the Oscar for most illegally downloaded film goes to....
It's Oscars time and the votes for best movie from the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be known in a few hours. But there is another way of tracking the popularity of the nominees in the Best Picture Category - illegal downloads. What is astonishing is the number of times the most popular files have been downloaded, despite the demise of The Pirate Bay. The total here for all these movies is well above 60 million. While arguments can be had about how much this level of piracy affects profits, it can't be good for the film industry that this many people are seeing the films illegally and not in the theatres or buying the DVD. Here is the list - and the winner is District 9, just edging out Avatar.
EU - Google AdWords cleared by European Court but advertisers warned over trade mark abuse
Google's AdWords system does not break trade mark law but companies can still stop their trade marks being used in the system in some circumstances. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has said that Google's AdWords system does not violate the trade mark rights of a brand owner when its trade marks are used by another to trigger adverts. It said, though, that the advertiser does infringe trade mark rights in some cases and that trade mark owners can demand that Google stop the use of its trade marks, and that Google will be liable for that infringement if it does not act quickly to stop that use.
Major ACTA Leak: Internet and Civil Enforcement Chapters With Country Positions
On the heels of the leak of various country positions on ACTA transparency, an even bigger leak has hit the Internet. A new
European Union document
canvasses the Internet and Civil Enforcement chapters, disclosing in complete detail the proposals from the U.S., the counter-proposals from the EU, Japan, and other ACTA participants. The 44-page document also highlights specific concerns of individual countries on a wide range of issues including ISP liability, anti-circumvention rules, and the scope of the treaty. This is probably the most significant leak to-date since it goes even beyond the transparency debate by including specific country positions and proposals.
Microsoft backs down over online 'spy guide'
Microsoft has been forced to backtrack after it closed down a whistleblowing website after it published a leaked version of the company's "spy guide". The American software giant took action against the Cryptome website for publishing a copy of the Microsoft Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, a document explaining how law enforcement officials can access millions of people's private information online. Microsoft said the publication infringed its copyright and lodged a complaint with Cryptome's web hosting company, Network Solutions. Network Solutions shut down the website entirely - a move that caused uproar among civil liberties campaigners, and led Microsoft to withdraw its complaint so that Cryptome could go back online. The company did not intend to close the site - just remove the document in question.
UK - Government denies Wi-Fi operators copyright exemption
Cafes, pubs, universities and libraries that offer wireless internet access will not be granted a special exemption from measures aimed at tackling copyright infringement, the Government has said. The Government's controversial Digital Economy Bill makes an internet access subscriber liable for the copyright-infringing behaviour of others. Internet law expert Professor Lilian Edwards had previously warned that without an exemption the measure would have a damaging effect. The Government has now published guidance to the Bill which clarifies that organisations providing access will be granted no such exemption.
Issue no. 406 - 21 February 2010
Google shuts down music blogs without warning
Bloggers told they have violated terms without further explanation, as years of archives are wiped off the internet. In what critics are calling "musicblogocide 2010", Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google's Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites - and years of archives - were wiped from the internet.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham
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