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The Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Outer Space Activities

Tosaporn Leepuengtham

This book considers the intellectual property issues which are raised by space activities. While outer space itself remains out of reach for most of us, the results of space activities and developments from space technology are becoming ever-more integrated in our daily lives. Despite this, there is often little understanding of the importance of space technologies, how existing legal rules may apply in terms of protecting the technology, or whether legal protection, such as copyright, may be enforced if the unauthorised use takes place beyond conventional territorial borders in outer space.
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Tosaporn Leepuengtham


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United Kingdom

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Creative Technology Ltd v. Aztech Sys PTE 61 F 3d 696 (9th Cir. 1995).

Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406 U.S. 518 (1972).

Diamond v. Chakrabarty 447 U.S. 303 (1980).

Dow Chemical Co., 837 F.2d 469, 473 (Fed. Cir. 1988).

Eli Lilly v. Generic Drug Sales, 460 F2d 1096, 174 USPQ 65 (5th Cir 1972).

Environmental Defense Fund v. Massey, 986 F.2d 528, 529 (1993).

Ex Parte McKay (1975) 200 USPQ (BNA) 324 (PTO BA).

Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. 499 U.S. 340, 348, 111 S.Ct. 1282,1289 (1991).

Gardner v. Howe (1865), 9 Feb Cases 1157 (Federal Case no. 5,219).

Gayler v. Wilder, 51 U.S. (10 How.) 477 (1980).

Geo. M. Martin Co. v. Alliance Machine Systems International LLC., 618 F.3d 1294 (Fed. Cir. 2010).

Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilber, 330 U.S. 501 (1947).

Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218 (1985).

Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v. Hall, 466 US 408 (1984).

Hilton v. Guyot 159 US 113 (1895).

Hughes Aircraft Co. v. United States, 29 Fed Cl. 197 (1993).

ICOS Corporation/Seven Transmembrane Receptor, [2002] 6 OJPEO 293.

International Shoe Co. v. Washington 326 U.S. 310 (1945).

Itar-Tass Russian News Agency v. Russian Kurier Inc., 153 F 3d 82, 47 USPQ 2D 1810 (2d Cir 1998).

Kington Bros. v. AFG Indus. Inc., 581 F. Supp. 1039.

Los Angeles News Service v. Conus Communications Co., 969 F.Supp. 579 (USCD Cal., 1997).

MAI System Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc. 991 F.2d 511 (9th Cir 1993).

Marconi Wireless Telco v. USA (1942), 53 USPQ 246, 81 CCI 671.

Mars Inc. v. Kabushiki-Kaisha Nippon Conlux, 24 F.3d 1368, 62 USLW 2720, 30 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1621.

Meshwerk, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc., 528F.3d 1258 (2008).

National Football League v. McBee & Bruno’s Inc. 792 F.2d 726 (8th Cir., 1986).

National Football League v. Primetime 24 Joint Venture 211 F.3d 10 (2nd Cir. 2000).

NTP v. RIM 418 F.3d 1282 (2005).

Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 729 (1877).

Rite-Hite Corp v. Kelly Co., 56 F.3d 1538, (Fed. Cir 1995).

Rosen v. NASA, 152 USPQ 757 (1966).

Sawin v. Guild, 21 F Cas 554, 555 (C.C.D. Mass 1813) (No. 12,391).

Sewall v. Walters, 21 F.3d 411, (Fed. Cir. 1994).

Smith v. United States, 113 S.Ct. 1178 (1993).

Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. 464 U.S. 417, 104 S.Ct. 774 (1984).

Steele v. Bulova Watch Co. 344 U.S. 280 (1952).

SubaFilms, Ltd. v. MGM-Pathe Communications Co. 24 F.3d. 1008 (9th Cir. 1994).

Therasense v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 593 F.3d 1289 (Fed. Cir 2010).

Tyburn v. Conan Doyle [1991] Ch. 5 (Ch D).

Voda M.D. v. Cordis Corp. 476 F.3d 887 (Fed. Cir 2007).

Westcode v. RBE Electronics, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 815 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2000).

Wilbur-Ellis Co., v. Kuther, 377 U.S. 422 (1964).

Williams Electronics, Inc. v. Artic International, Inc. 685 F.2d 870 (3d Cir. 1982).

Wilson v. Simpson, 50 U.S. 109 (1850).

World Film Services v. RAI Radiotelevisione Italiano, 50 U.S.Q. 2D. 1187 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

Worldwide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980).


Ethiopia v. S. Africa; Liberia v. S. Africa (Second Phase) [1966] ICJ Rep 6.


Case C–364/93 Antonio Marinari v. Lloyds Bank plc and Zubaidi Trading Company [1995] ECR I–2709.

Case C–143/78 De Cavel v. De Cavel [1979] ECR 1055.

Case C–509/09 eDate Advertising v. X [2012] QB 654.

Case C–145/10 Eva-Maria Painer v. Standard VerlagsGmbH and others (CJEU 7 March 2013).

Case C–288/32 Duijnstee v. Goderbauer [1983] ECR 3663.

Case C–4/03 GAT v. LuK [2006] ECR I-6509.

Case C–21/76 Handelskwekerij Bier Bv v. Mines de Potasse d’Alsace [1978] QB 708, [1976] ECR 1735.

Case C–5/08 Infopaq International A/S v. Danske Dagblades Forening [2012] Bus. L.R. 102; [2009] E.C.R. I-6569; [2009] E.C.D.R. 16; [2010] F.S.R. 20.

Case C–192/04 Lagardere Active Broadcast v. SPRE and GVL [2005] ECR I-07199.

Case C–189/87 Kalfelis v. Bankhaus Schoder, [1988] ECR 5565.

Case C–161/10 Martinez v. MGN Ltd [2011] WLR (D) 330.

Case C–228/11 Melzer v. MF Global UK Ltd, [2013] EUECJ C–228/11, ECLT:EU:C2013:305, [2013] WLR (D) 196, EU:C:2013:305, [2013] CEC 1023, [2013] 3 WLR 883, [2013] ILPr 30, [2013] 1 QB 1112.

Case C–281/02 Andrew Owusu v. N.B. Jackson OC 2005, I–1383.

Case C–170/12 Pinckey v. KDG Mediatech AG, [2013] EUECJ, [2013] WLR (D) 367, [2013] Bus LP 1313.

Case C–539/03, Roche Nederland v. Frederick Primus and Milton Goldenberg, [2006] ECR I–6535.

Case C–68/93 Shevill and Others v. Press Alliance SA [1995] 2 WLR 499.

Case C–616/10 Solvay v. Honeywell (CJEU 12 July 2012).

Case C–523/10 Wintersteiger AG v. Products 4U Sondermaschinenbau GmbH. [2012] WLR (D) 117.

Conference Papers and Documents

Austin G., ‘Private International Law and Intellectual Property Rights A Common Law Overview’ (WIPO Forum on Private International Law and Intellectual Property, Geneva, January 2001) (WIPO/PIL/01/5).

Blumer F., ‘Patent Law and International Private Law on Both Sides of the Atlantic’ (WIPO Forum on Private International Law and Intellectual Property, Geneva, January, 2001) (WIPO/PIL/01/3).

Christol, C., ‘Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property: Hughes Aircraft vs. US’ (Proceedings of 37th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Jerusalem, October 1994).

Christol, C., ‘Persistence Pays Off: The Case of Hughes Aircraft Company v. USA (Proceedings of 42nd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Amsterdam, October 1999).

Derby B., ‘Industrial Property Rights and Space Activity: An EPO Perspective’ (Proceedings of an ESA Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights and Space Activities, Paris, December 1994).

Doldirina C., ‘A Rightly Balanced Intellectual Property Rights Regime as a Mechanism to Enhance Commercial Earth Observation Activities’ (Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law, 52nd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Daejeon, October 2009).

Gantt J.B., ‘Space Station Intellectual Property Rights and U.S. Patent Law’ (Proceedings of an International Colloquium on the Manned Space Stations – Legal Issues, Paris, November 1989) 109.

Gervais D. (Proceedings of an ESA Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights and Space Activities, Paris, December 1994).

Ginsburg J.C., ‘Private International Law Aspects of the Protection of Works and Objects of Related Rights Transmitted Through Digital Network (2000 Update)’ (WIPO Forum on Private International Law and Intellectual Property, Geneva, January 2001) (WIPO/PIL/01/2) 1.

Hearsey C.M., ‘A Review of Challenge to Corporate Expansion into Outer Space’ (AIAA Space 2008 Conference & Exposition, San Diego, September 2008) available online at <> (accessed 12 March 2016).

Jurcys P., ‘The Role of the Territoriality Principle in Modern Intellectual Property Regimes: Institutional Lessons from Japan’ (New Spaces, New Actors and the Institutional Turn in Contemporary Intellectual Property Law conference, Kyushu, February 2010).

Kopal V., ‘The Geostationary Orbit: A Limited Natural Resource or A Precious Part of Outer Space’ (Proceedings of 26th Colloquium On The Law Of Outer Space, Budapest, October 1983).

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, ‘Exclusive Jurisdiction and Cross Border IP (Patent) Infringement Suggestions for Amendment of The Brussels I Regulations’ available online at <> (accessed 1 August 2013).

Okolie C.C., ‘Applicability of International Law to Telecommunication Satellites in Geostationary Orbit and the Interest of the Developing Countries’ (Proceedings of the 26th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Budapest, October 1983).

Osterlinck R., ‘Intellectual Property and Space Activities’ (Proceedings of 26th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Budapest, October 1983).

Oosterlinck R., ‘Tangible and Intangible Property in Outer Space’ (Proceedings of 39th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Beijing, October 1996).

Sgrosso G.C., ‘Applicable Jurisdiction Conflicts in the International Space Station’ (Proceedings of 43rd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space. Rio de Janeiro, October 2000).

Smith B.L., ‘Recent Developments in Patents for Outer Space’ (Proceedings of the 42nd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space Amsterdam, October 1999).

Traa-Engelman, von H., ‘The Need for a Uniform Law System Protecting Rights in Outer Space’ (Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law, 2008).

Tramposch A., ‘International Aspects of Protection for Inventions Made or Used in Outer Space’ (Proceedings of an ESA Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights and Space Activities, Paris, December 1994).

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, ‘Space Station and the Law: Selected Legal Issues-Background Paper’, OTA-BP-ISC–41 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, August 1986).

Walker C.H., ‘Potential Patent Problem on the ISS’ (Proceedings of the 42nd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space Amsterdam, October 1999).

WIPO, ‘Intellectual Property and Space Activities’ (April 2004) <> (accessed 31 January 2016).

WIPO, ‘Meeting of Consultants on Inventions Made or Used in Outer Space’ <> (accessed 31 January 2016).


Interview with Dr. Sompong Liangrocapart, Lecturer, Department of Physics, Mahanakorn University of Technology (Bangkok, Thailand, 3 January 2012).

Interview with Professor Christopher Conselice, Professor of Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, the University of Nottingham (Nottingham, 29 March 2012).


United Kingdom

Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Patent Act 1977.

Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995.

United States

Copyright Act 1976.

Patent Act 1977.

Treaties, Conventions and Other Instruments

Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies 1979.

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886.

Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1968.

Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space 1975.

Convention relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite 1974.

European Patent Convention (EPC) 1973 (2000).

Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property 1883.

Rome Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (EEC) 1980.

Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations 1961.

Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies 1967.

TRIPs Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, WTO, 1994.


Doldirina C., ‘The Common Good and Access to Remote Sensing Data’ (D.C.L. thesis, McGill University 2010).

Monahan R., ‘The Sky’s the Limit? Establishing a Legal Delimitation of Airspace and Outer Space’ (D.Phil thesis, Durham University 2008).

Oestreicher Y., ‘Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Intellectual Property Judgments: Analysis and Guidelines for A New International Convention’ (S.J.D. thesis, Duke University 2004).

Yang F., ‘Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights over the Internet and Private International Law’, (M.Phil thesis, University of Nottingham, 2010).