#IPBday – The setbacks of the mobile phone between the first patent and the placing on the market.

The pioneer patent on mobile phone technologies is that of Mr. Martin COOPER (MOTOROLA) filed on October 17, 1973 in the USA and issued September 16, 1975.

The patent had been extended interaallia to Germany and the United Kingdom, but surprisingly does not seem to have been extended to France. Would France have been a less interesting market than Denmark or Spain at that time?

The inventor Martin COOPER was the first to make a mobile phone call on April 3, 1973 in New York at 6th Avenue, which today seems like a trivial thing. (The experts would immediately ask the question of disclosure before filing that is legally problematic, but this is not the subject). For the anecdote, he called his competitor Joel Engel of BELL LABS, to show him who was the most advanced.

MOTOROLA (COOPER’s employer and patentee) is known for having a multitude of pioneering patents that have been at the basis of the evolution of mobile communications technologies. Many subsequent patents were dependent on Motorolla patents.

Hoowever, the technology took a long time to be available on the market, and more time to be in mass production.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulated frequency usage in 1983. On September 21, 1983, the FCC approved the first commercially available Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. It weighed 800 g and measured 33 cm long. His price was about $ 4,000 and his memory was limited to 30 phone numbers. Its communication autonomy was less than an hour and its loading time was 10 hours.
Ten more years were needed to arrive at a mass production of the phone.

The size, weight and performance of the phone have of course evolved considerably since then.

In the same way, you may have a breakthrough innovation that will change the paradigms so much that we will wonder later how could we do without this invention. It is crutial not to make a destructive disclosure of novelty and to protect your innovation in order to reap the fruits thereof.


#ITLaw – The Right to software Interoperability

The wealth of questions relating to industrial property is greater than we imagine.

Despite the importance of legal protection of program creators, it is critical that right holders of computer programs do not create excessive partitioning that generates abuse of rights.

As in all aspects of IP, the cursor is to be placed in the right place between protection of intellectual property, and defense of the interests of the public.

It is on this basis that the legislators have progressively implemented what was subsequently called the right to interoperability, or the possibility for a file or program not to be exploitable exclusively by the means provided solely by the program provider. In legal terms enshrined in the applicable European law, the aim is to enable a computer program to communicate and function with other elements of a computer system and with users, namely to enable both a hardware and software interconnection to be able to implement information exchanges.

The problem is not common with conventional word processor computer programs. In general, “creator” files can be read and/or modified using third-party software.

But what happens when programs and files are siled by the creators, and software licenses are above the budget of a company?

European law provides in substance for allowing third parties to perform reverse engineering operations within certain limits, in order to implement interoperability. National legislations must not impede the application of these provisions.

Under French law, the legislator goes further because an Authority has been established to ensure compliance with the provisions on interoperability. Operators are able to request information to achieve interoperability as provided by law.

The case arose for the Association VideoLan (VLC), which refered to the Authority to be able to play a Blue-Ray (with specific encryption) on VLC software. The case is not a satisfactory source of instruction on binding measures to enforce the interoperability provisions as such, as the Authority concludes that the VideoLan association should have contacted the Blue-Ray Consortium to have the necessary technical information, before referring to the Authority.

The Authority specifies that the decompilation and reverse-engineering provisions must not be used to offer a software that may be substitute the creator’s software. As a result, only data allowing interoperability can be requested, in order to balance interoperability with the protection of intellectual property rights.

Our team is at your disposal for more details on the sources and applicability of these provisions.


#TMLaw – The setbacks of the application for registration of the figurative mark “MESSI” at the EUIPO

The multi-balloon d’or Lionel Messi has filed several European trademarks with varying degrees of success.

One of them encountered an obstacle that proved to be major, whereas, from our point of view, ways to overcome these obstacles could have been used.
The trademark application in question is the European application 010181154 filed on 08.08.2011, not yet registered. It is a sign with a stylized “M” with a MESSI notation in a specific caligraphy where the E is in another color and another calygraphy.

This filing was made without knowing of an earlier word mark, “MASSI”, which its holder Mr. Jaime Masferrer Coma raised in the context of an opposition to the registration of the “MESSI” mark, in November 2011 in essence on the basis of an argument of risk of confusion between the two signs for sporting goods.

In 2013, the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) decided to reject the registration of the mark  “MESSI” mark.

Lionel MESSI then filed an appeal.

In April 2014, EUIPO rejected MESSI’s appeal, arguing in essence that there would be visual and auditory similarity between the two signs.

Lionel MESSI filed an appeal before the European Union Court (EUT) to seek the annulment of the EUIPO decision.

On April 26, the EUT decided in favor of Lionel MESSI. The EUT considered in essence that Lionel MESSI’s reputation is such that a consumer would necessarily associate the MESSI mark with the footballer, and concluded that there was no likelihood of confusion.

So it was a victory for Lionel MESSI, but the owner of the “MASSI” mark has filed an appeale.

To follow up closely …

This dispute illustrates, on the one hand, the importance of constituting IP rights as soon as possible, especially when international fame is not indisputable, and to avoid years of procedure and high costs. On the other hand, it appears that it is also essential to carry out availability searches including signs similar to the one whose protection is sought, and not to be limited to an identical search.

Expertise in these questions can help avoid litigation …

In fact, an earlier filing would not have had a major impact in the case of MESSI because the “MASSI” mark was filed on 27/11/1996, while Lionel MESSI was still only 9 years old …


#IPBday – The seat belt is 60 years old …

On August 29, 1958 Mr. Nils BOHLIN (or rather his employer VOLVO) filed a Swedish patent application for a so-called 3 ponits safety belt. Today the safety seatbelt is so commonplace that one has the impression that it has always existed, while despite its simplicity a posteriori, it is undeniably an invention that has given a considerable advance. By 1961, more than three quarters of new cars were equipped with seatbelts. The same belt is found in cars manufactured every day.

It may also be the case for some of the solutions you have imagined, but which would difficult to market without a patent.

Nils BOHLIN was already inventor nominated in more than fifteen patent applications at the time of the patent application on the safety seat belt. He was previously an avionics engineer for the company SAAB (SVENSKA AEROPLAN AKTIEBOLAGET), applicant of the aforementioned patent applications. After working on ejector seats and their belts, Nils BOHLIN would have been hired by VOLVO to work on car seatbelts, which turned out to be a great success. Nils BOHLIN wanted to provide a belt that would “hold the upper and lower body in a physiologically favourable manner and is easy to connect and disconnect”.

The seat belt, however, took a long time to be accepted.

BOHLIN had to demonstrate the effectiveness of his seatbelt in a study of 28,000 accidents in Sweden. He presented a paper at the 11th Stapp Car Crash Convention. The unattached occupants sustained fatal injuries throughout the speed scale, while none of the occupants with a seat belt were fatally injured at a speed below 60 mph. In addition, no occupants fastened to the belt were fatally injured when the cockpit remained intact.

This study resulted in the US Department of Transportation requiring three-point seat belts being mandatory in American cars. And it was not until 1976 that the use of the seatbelt was made mandatory in Germany.

This is how a little idea turns the world around…