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Phillip Johnson

The introduction of statutory awards for inventors in the Patents Act 1977 was highly controversial. Using original archival sources and parliamentary debates, the political battles that raged both in public and behind the scenes are explored. Central to the policy development was a report by a government-appointed Working Party; yet, until now, this report and its recommendations have not been published. The report represents a compromise agreement between representatives of both employers and employees. It was used by the government as the main defence of its policy. Using this report, and the contemporary political discussions, the small number of decisions of the comptroller and the courts will be examined to see if they reflect the balance struck by the Working Party, thereby providing a history of statutory employee awards in the United Kingdom as they have evolved over the last fifty years.

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Zongkui Luo and Fang Wang

The issue of trademark law protection of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is inevitably encountered in the conversion from cultural symbols to commercial marks. Although academic circles are still discussing this, the practice has already begun. This paper investigates the status of the trademark law protection of ICH in China from the perspective of the application and registration data of ICH trademarks. According to a quantitative analysis of 12 123 items of ICH trademark searching data in China, it can be seen that the trademark protection of ICH is not optimistic, the trademark use of ICH symbols is in a disordered state, and many ICH trademark applications may cause distortion, derogation, or dilution to the connotation of the ICH. As a result, excluding trademark squatting by outsiders and decentralized registrations by indigenous peoples, and orderly utilizing of ICH symbols under a collective trademark or a certification trademark, should be determined as the basic goal of trademark law protection of ICH. To achieve this goal, the solution of ‘exclusion plus unified utilization’ should be adopted in practice. According to this plan, indigenous peoples, the trademark office, courts, and the Center of ICH Protection need to collaborate and improve the trademark law protection of ICH through awareness-raising, actions, institutions, and information.

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Muriel Lightbourne

Recent developments in the field of European law, in relation to subject-matter consisting of living material, raise a string of basic issues as to the legal qualification of certain techniques used in agriculture and medicine, such as CRISPR-Cas9, and regarding their appraisal under European patent law. The present article reviews a series of decisions, including the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in case C-528/16, the decision issued on 7 February 2020 by the French Council of State and the Opinion of the European Patent Office Enlarged Board of Appeal of 14 May 2020 on Referral G 3/19.

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Ling Zhang

Under Article 10(1)(8) of China's Trademark Law, a trademark that is contrary to public order and accepted principles of morality is not only refused registration, but also forbidden to be used in commerce. Numerous cases involving the registrability of trademarks are brought to China's courts, and Article 10(1)(8) is one of the main grounds for refusing trademark registration. In general, there are two specific legal issues concerning the application of this provision. One is the legislative purpose and rational basis of this provision. In fact, China's Trademark Office and courts used this provision to block trademark hoarding and to protect the civil rights of others before the Supreme People's Court clarified that the purpose of this provision was to protect public interests. The other is the standard for determining what is offensive, which is a common problem among countries with a similar provision. Indeed, it is difficult to create a consistent standard because of the subjectivity involved in drawing moral conclusions, the cultural conflicts between different groups and the unpredictability of the perception of the general public. However, these problems could be solved if the examiners set a low moral threshold for trademark registration, as the perception of the general public with normal sensitivity and tolerance is easier to ascertain when a mark is deeply offensive. In addition, not all trademarks related to public authorities and serious social events should be forbidden under the morality provision, and the court should take account of the possibility of damaging political order and traders' freedom of expression.

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Jonathan Barrett

Public art galleries have traditionally prohibited visitors from photographing exhibited artworks. Today, however, photography in the gallery is invariably permitted and commonly encouraged, including visitors taking selfies. Copyright law and practice has generally responded to new techniques of reproduction, such as etchings and photographs, and how those technologies are used in commerce and general society. The selfie is a cultural phenomenon that invites re-examination of some areas of copyright law and practice, notably, permitted acts. Has copyright law, in particular freedom of panorama, kept pace with the phenomenon of selfies in the gallery? This article seeks to answer that question and also considers whether the photography policies of leading public galleries present better ways of engaging with the selfie phenomenon than does the current law.

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Nick Dadson, Iain Snoddy and Joshua White

‘Big data’ and ‘big tech’ have become central topics in recent antitrust debate and regulation. For example, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently published a report on online platforms, expressing concerns that the major platforms like Google are now protected from competition by such strong incumbency advantages. Underlying the CMA's theory of harm is the essential facility theory of antitrust, under which Google's ability to control access to its click-and-query data is seen as preventing its rivals from competing effectively. EU jurisprudence has identified three criteria to determine whether data are an essential facility and whether access should be mandated. First, the data must be indispensable to compete in the market. Secondly, absent data sharing, technical improvements by competitors must be hampered or precluded. Thirdly, there must be no objective justification to refuse competitors access to the data. It is difficult to reconcile the authorities’ concerns with Google's click-and-query data with these criteria, however. Actual and potential alternatives exist; Google's competitors have been innovating in the search market for more than a decade; and there are objective reasons to limit data access, including threats to innovation and privacy concerns.

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Ambroise Descamps, Timo Klein and Gareth Shier

In the modern economy, algorithms influence many aspects of our lives, from how much we pay for groceries and what adverts we see, to the decisions taken by health professionals. As is true with all new technologies, algorithms bring new economic opportunities and make our lives easier, but they also bring new challenges. Indeed, many competition authorities have voiced their concerns that under certain circumstances algorithms may harm consumers, lead to exclusion of some competitors and may even enable firms (knowingly or otherwise) to avoid competitive pressure and collude. In this article, we explain how algorithms work and what potential benefits and harms they bring to competition.