2010: A Year of Whirlwind Developments for Intellectual Property and Technology

2010: A Year of Whirlwind Developments for Intellectual Property and Technology

2010 was a year filled with many noteworthy legal developments in the realm of intellectual property and technology.  Out of the hundreds of stories that we featured through our events and online at IPilogue this past year, we have compiled some brief highlights.  We are also pleased to share with you a list of the top ten most read IPilogue articles from last year.  We look forward to another stimulating year ahead and wish all of you the best in 2011!

Significant Stories in 2010:

The global trade-mark enforcement efforts of major brand owners led to a number of decisions in 2010 worth noting.  Tiffany lost an appeal in the US over advertisements for counterfeit jewellery on eBay and L’Oreal won a victory over “smell-alike” perfume maker Bellure in the UK.  New top level domain names created additional concerns for brand owners in 2010, and as concern over ambush marketing grew in the days leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Lululemon decided to push the limits of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act.  Finally, in 2011 many will be anticipating the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to a trade-mark case involving two companies in the retirement residence industry (Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc.)

Business method patents stayed on top of the minds of the IP community in 2010, with the release of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos this past summer.  In Canada, the Federal Court allowed Amazon’s appeal of a ruling that Amazon’s “1-click” e-commerce system was unpatentable subject matter.  Canadian companies continued to make patent headlines with speculation over the fate of Nortel’s patent portfolio and i4i’s ongoing battle with Microsoft (which will continue on to the US Supreme Court in 2011).  In the EU, the EPO ruled that Swiss-type claims are no longer patentable and the ECJ rejected Monsanto’s attempts to bar imports of soy meal from Argentina.  In 2010, EU delegates continued to try and reach a consensus on a unified European patent system.  Gene patents continued to attract significant debate, with the US DOJ being the latest to weigh in on the Myriad Genetics BRCA1 and BRCA2 patent litigation.

For Canadians, copyright reform has been a constant fixture in the mainstream media over the past couple of years, with the Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (the "Copyright Modernization Act") planning to continue to hold meetings and solicit feedback in 2011.  IP Osgoode’s Director, Professor D’Agostino’s opening statement for her participation in the Dec 1 2010 hearing can be found here. Technical protection measures have remained one of the most vigorously debated aspects of Bill C-32, providing very diverse commentary and opinion.  In 2011, copyright watchers will also be following the UK’s Digital Economy Act, as it undergoes judicial review.  In the US, the Southern District Court of NY sided with YouTube, in its dispute with Viacom (who has recently submitted its appeal to the decision).  Late this year, the US Supreme Court divided evenly in the Costco v. Omega grey market watches case, disappointing many who were following this case. 

In 2010, Canada’s top court also dealt with the issue of privacy in power consumption data (as tracked by digital recording ammeters) and recently heard arguments regarding liability for hyper-linking to defamatory articles (in the Crookes v. Newton case).


Top 10 Most Read IPilogue Articles of 2010:

  1. Nike Gets Personal Over Counterfeit Shoes
  2. Bill C-32: Cracking Down on Bit Torrent Trackers
  3. Noises Heard: Canada’s Recent Online Copyright Consultation Process — Teachings and Cautions
  4. Bill C-32: Copyright and Education in the Digital Age
  5. Digital Locks, Circumvention and The Copyright Reforms Proposed By Bill C-32
  6. Lundbeck: The Duty of Good Faith Patent Prosecution
  7. EPO bans Swiss-type claims from patentability, gives green light to new dosage regimes
  8. Omega v. Costco and discounted luxury goods
  9. Bill C-32: Clarifying the Roles and Responsibilities of Internet Service Providers and Search Engines
  10. The Doctrine of “Inherent Anticipation” in Canada: A Time for Review?