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Bloomsbury IP/IT Law Briefing: October Teaser

This month’s briefing focuses on the UK Supreme Court judgment in Shanks v Unilever, which was published on 23 October.

Reversing three lower decisions in this case, which concerns the meaning of ‘outstanding benefit’ in Article 40 of the 1977 Patents Act, the Supreme Court found that Professor Shanks was entitled to a payment of £2 million from his former employer.

In a judgment written on behalf of the five judges, Lord Kitchin said that the benefit of the invention to the employer was outstanding, that Professor Shanks was entitled to a fair share of that benefit and that it should be uplifted to take account of inflation.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court heard argument over four days in the Unwired Planet and Conversant cases concerning FRAND licensing of standard-essential patents. A judgment is likely early next year.

SEPs were also before the High Court this month in a dispute over the HEVC standard. TV manufacturer Vestel sought a declaration that the defendants had abused their dominant position, but this claim was rejected by the judge.

In a complex case over passing off, Lord Justice Arnold rejected claims brought by Glaxo Wellcome against rival producers of asthma inhalers. Glaxo had claimed that the competitors had passed off the purple colour of its inhalers, but the judge found that the evidence did not support this claim.

Joint authorship was the subject of an appeal concerning the copyright in the screenplay of the movie Florence Foster Jenkins. The Court of Appeal set aside the judgment and ordered a retrial, saying the first instance judge had failed to make important findings of fact, to take account of material matters or to apply the correct legal standards.

At the Court of Justice of the EU, Advocate General Tanchev’s Opinion in the Skykick case was published, discussing questions referred by the High Court on trade mark specifications of goods and services and bad faith.

The IP/IT Briefing is part of the Bloomsbury Law Online Service. The full briefing is available here.

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