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The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has delayed the ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. This is the result of a challenge to the UPC on constitutional grounds by a private individual who has not been named.

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported on 12 June, that the Federal Constitutional Court has requested the Federal President refrain from signing the legislation, until consideration has been given to the challenge. The Court is of the opinion that the challenge is not “hopeless” and therefore must be heard before the UPC can be ratified. The legislation had already been approved by Germany’s other legislative bodies (the Bundestag and the Bundesrat).

The UPC was due to become operational by December 2017. However, in a statement published on 7 June 2017, the UPC’s Preparatory Committee noted that this target would not be possible due to delays in the ratification process. The delay in ratification on the part of Germany is likely to be a significant factor in the future timeline of the Court, as Germany, along with the UK and France (who have ratified) are required to ratify the UPC Agreement before it can come into effect due to their status as the three EU member states with the highest number of patents.

The Agreement has been ratified so far by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Finland. Ireland has not yet ratified the UPC Agreement as a constitutional amendment to endorse the UPC must first be put to referendum.

 

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has handed down a reference for a preliminary ruling in Case C-610/15 (Stichtin Brein v Ziggo BV, XS4ALL Internet BV), holding that making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works may constitute an infringement of copyright.

The case was brought by a Dutch anti-piracy group Stichtin Brein against two internet service providers and was referred to the CJEU by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands to seek clarification on a point of EU law.

The CJEU considered whether an internet sharing platform, such as ‘The Pirate Bay’, which makes available and manages the indexation of metadata relating to copyrighted works, was providing ‘communication to the public’ of copyrighted materials within the meaning of Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. It was noted that although copyrighted material was placed online by users and not by the operators of ‘The Pirate Bay’, by indexing files to allow users locate and share protected works, it played “an essential role in making the works in question available.”

It was also noted that although ‘The Pirate Bay’ does not host content, it provides a torrent search engine, classifying files under different categories and providing access to protected material “with full knowledge of the consequences of their conduct.”

The case will now return to the Dutch courts for final determination on the issue, but the ruling strengthens the position of copyright holders throughout the EU who wish to hold online sharing platforms accountable.

 

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In Aldi Stores (Ireland) Limited and Aldi GMBH & Co. KG v Dunnes Stores [2017] IECA 116, Dunnes Stores (Dunnes) succeeded in its  appeal against a High Court ruling that its 2013 comparative advertising campaign against Aldi was contrary to EC (Misleading and Comparative Advertising) Regulations, 2007 (the 2007 Regulations) and the Consumer Protection Act, 2007 (the 2007 Act).

In essence, the Court of Appeal determined that the High Court applied the wrong test.  It did not make a decision as to whether the 2013 campaign was lawful, but criticised a number of adverse findings made by the High Court.

Continue Reading Comparative Advertising in the Court of Appeal

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In Rolf Anders Daniel Pihl v Sweden, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed with Swedish authorities that a non-profit association was not liable for anonymous defamatory comments posted on its blog. The ECHR held that the Swedish authorities’ refusal to hold the owner of the blog liable for the anonymous defamatory online comment did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

Continue Reading Blog owner not liable for anonymous defamatory online comments

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In Muwema v Facebook Ireland Ltd [2017] IEHC 69, the Irish High Court refused to grant a Norwich Pharmacal order against Facebook, requiring disclosure of the identity and location of an anonymous third party operating a Facebook page containing defamatory content. The Court found that if Facebook disclosed such information it would endanger the life of the third party.  The Court held that the right to a good name must give way to the right to life and bodily integrity in the event of a conflict.

Continue Reading Court refuses Norwich Pharmacal order where compliance would threaten a person’s safety

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EU consumers of online content services such as Netflix, Spotify or Sky Sports will soon be able to access their subscriptions while on holiday in or when otherwise visiting another Member State, due to the lifting of existing restrictions by a proposed new EU Regulation.

Continue Reading No Frontiers! – EU Consumers to enjoy cross-border access to online content services

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In an earlier blog, we outlined that the UK confirmed its intention to ratify the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. In December 2016, the UK government proceeded to sign the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court.  The Protocol provides EU privileges and immunities to the judges of the Unified Patent Court necessary for the exercise of its functions.  The Protocol is required in the individual countries hosting divisions of the court, one of which is in London.  This positive step would suggest that the UK is moving closer towards ratification.

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The UK has confirmed today that it intends to ratify the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. The Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, reportedly made the statement at a meeting of the EU Competitive Council.

There has been much commentary on the political and legal challenges the UK would face in joining the system post-Brexit. It does remain the possibility that the UK could join the system and then be ejected, something which is most likely to be determined post-Brexit.

Continue Reading UK will say “Yes” to UPC

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The High Court in Muwema v Facebook Ireland Ltd [2016] IEHC 519 held that Facebook had no duty to remove defamatory content posted by an anonymous third party. Justice Binchy did, however, make a Norwich Pharmacal order requiring Facebook to disclose the identity and location of the person operating the page involved.

Continue Reading ISP not required to remove defamatory statements

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On 28th July 2016, the Irish Court of Appeal, in Sony Music Entertainment (Ireland) Ltd. & Ors v UPC Communications Ireland Ltd. [2016] IECA 231, confirmed that national courts have jurisdiction to grant graduated response system (GRS) injunctions against innocent intermediaries, such as ISPs, in response to alleged copyright infringement. This is the first GRS order of its kind made anywhere in the EU. 

The Court held that Article 8(3) of the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC) (the 2001 Directive), implemented in Ireland by section 40(5A) of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, provided the jurisdiction to grant such orders. Article 8(3) requires Member States to ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.

Continue Reading Court of Appeal confirms jurisdiction to order ISPs to take action against copyright infringement