This Week's Techlaw News Round-Up

DCMS publishes policy paper on Online Safety Bill, Second reading for the Online Sale of Goods (Safety) Bill announced, Patents Court considers unfairness test for university IP policies under consumer protection legislation, Court of Appeal upholds validity of telecommunications standards essential patent and other techlaw news from the past week not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

DCMS publishes policy paper on changes to Online Safety Bill

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has published a policy paper about the effects of the changes made to the draft Online Safety Bill. The policy paper sets out a summary of the changes made and the reasons for them. It also provides a qualitative assessment about the expected costs, and how they may differ from the final impact assessment. The Bill's second reading in the House of Lords is due on 1 February 2023.

Second reading for the Online Sale of Goods (Safety) Bill announced

The second reading for the Online Sales of Goods (Safety) Bill has been scheduled for 24 March 2023. The Bill aims to improve safety regarding goods sold online, and for connected purposes. The second reading was proposed by Labour MP, Ian Mearns, who stated that the Bill should help facilitate the UK's leading position in digital regulation and consumer protection and the UK government's commitment to ensuring that the UK is the "safest place in the world to be and to buy online". The Business Minister supports the Bill, but it has not been formally supported by the government , so is unlikely to pass into law. However, the government has carried out a consultation about product safety which covers the points in the Bill, so similar rules may be proposed by the government in future.

Patents Court considered unfairness test for university IP policies under consumer protection legislation

In the case of Oxford University Innovation Ltd v Oxford Nanoimaging Ltd [2022] EWHC 3200 (Pat), the Patents Court considered a dispute about royalties of over £700,000. The dispute arose regarding a licence agreement between the university claimant and the spin out company defendant. The licence agreement was for IPR relating to a microscope imaging technology developed by a student during his DPhil research activities. The defendant challenged the university's entitlement to the patents in the licence agreement. The university originally acquired the patents rights via the IP provision in a DPhil student contract. The defendant claimed that the IP provisions were unfair under the Unfair Terms  in Consumer Contracts Regulations (which preceded the Consumer Rights Act 2015) and so the licence was void. The court considered whether the student was a "consumer" under the UTCCR. The court ruled that a doctoral student was a consumer. It therefore applied the unfairness test, said there was no significant imbalance between the parties and the IP provisions were made in good faith. Therefore, the licence agreement was not void and the university was entitled to the royalties.

Court of Appeal upholds validity of telecommunications standards essential patent

In InterDigital Technology Corporation and others v Lenovo Group Ltd and others [2023] EWCA Civ 34, the Court of Appeal upheld the Patent Court's ruling that a telecommunications patent owned by Interdigital was not obvious. The Court of Appeal rejected the appellants' criticisms of the trial judges decision. The first ground of appeal related to the fact that the patent specification did not include any stated advantage of the inventive concept that the patentee had argued at trial. Birss LJ gave the main judgment and said that there was no general requirement for a patent to set out any advantages an invention provided over the prior art. However, he pointed out that there were some exceptions to this general rule in the case law. One of these related to prejudice cases. In these cases, invention might be finding out that something that a skilled person thought could or should not be done, because they thought that the idea would be impractical or would not work. However, this issue only arose if the prejudice related to something which was a feature of the claim. The Court of Appeal said that on the facts before them, there was no prejudice issue.

Home Office announces independent review of Investigatory Powers Act 2016

The Home Secretary has appointed Lord (David) Anderson KBE KC to carry out an independent review of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The review will focus on the effectiveness of the bulk personal dataset regime, criteria for obtaining internet connection records, the suitability of certain definitions within the Act, and the resilience and agility of warranty processes, and the oversight regime. Lord Anderson will carry out his own consultation with law enforcement, the intelligence agencies, and wider public authorities, as well as other external organisations and individuals with an interest in this work. He will conclude his review and publish his findings in a report later this year.

CMA launches consultation on its draft guidance on horizontal agreements

The CMA is consulting on draft guidance on the application of the Chapter I prohibition in the Competition Act 1998 to horizontal agreements. The Chapter I prohibition in the Act prohibits agreements between businesses that restrict competition in the UK (unless they meet the conditions for exemption in section 9(1) of the Act or are otherwise excluded). An agreement can be exempt from the Chapter I prohibition if it creates sufficient benefits to outweigh any anti-competitive affects. A 'block exemption' exempts whole categories of agreements on the basis that agreements within the category would be likely to be treated as exempt if they were assessed individually. If an agreement meets the conditions set out in a block exemption, it is automatically exempt. The purpose of the draft guidance under consultation is to explain how the CMA applies the Chapter I prohibition to common types of agreements between actual and potential competitors (referred to as "horizontal agreements"). The guidance also describes the application of the Specialisation Agreements Block Exemption Order 2022 and the Research and Development Block Exemption Order 2022, which came into force on 1 January 2023, and is intended to help businesses assess horizontal agreements to establish whether they fall within the scope of these block exemptions. The consultation ends on 8 March 2023.

EU law

Consultation on use of videoconference for oral appeal hearings

The European Patent Office Boards of Appeal Committee and the President of the Boards of Appeal are consulting on the technical implementation of oral proceedings by videoconferencing before the Boards of Appeal. The consultation ends on 31 March 2023.

MEPs adopt legislation to secure semiconductor supply

Members of the European Parliament have adopted legislation to secure the supply of semiconductors. The Industry and Energy Committee adopted two draft bills: the "Chips Act" that aims to boost technological capacity and innovation in the EU Chips ecosystem; and the Chips Joint Undertaking to increase investments for developing this type of European ecosystem. In their amendments to the Chips Act, MEPs focussed more on next-generation semiconductor and quantum chips. A network of competence centres would be created to address the skills shortage and attract new talent on research, design and production. The legislation would also support projects aiming to boost the EU's security of supply by attracting investment and building up production capacity.

Court of Justice of the European Union rules on systematic collection of biometric and genetic data of accused people

The Court of Justice of the EU has held in Case C-205/21 / Ministerstvo na vatreshnite raboti that the systematic collection of biometric and genetic data of any accused person, so that they can be entered in a police record, is contrary to the requirement of ensuring enhanced protection regarding processing of sensitive personal data. The Court of Justice set out the conditions under which the processing of biometric and genetic data by the police authorities may be regarded as authorised by national law, under Directive 2016/680. It also considered the implementation of the requirement in the Directive concerning the processing of data of a category of persons with regard to whom there are serious grounds for believing that they are involved in a criminal offence, and on observance of the right to effective judicial protection and of the principle of the presumption of innocent where the national court having  jurisdiction is permitted by national legislation to authorise the compulsory collection of those data, regarded as 'sensitive' by the EU legislature. It also addressed the question about whether national legislation providing for the systematic collection of those data is compatible with the provisions of Direction 2016/680 that relate to their processing, having regard to the applicable principles.

Google commits to give consumers clearer and more accurate information to comply with EU rules

Googles has committed to introduce changes in several of its products and services. Following a dialogue started in 2021 with the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network and coordinated by the European Commission and led by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets and the Belgian Directorate-General for Economic Inspection, Google has agreed to address issues raised by the authorities and to introduce changes related to orders when it comes to price or cancellations, and to create an email address whose use is reserved to consumer protection authorities, so that they can report and request the quick removal of illegal content.

Published: 2023-01-27T10:51:00

    Please wait...