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2019 IP Law Year in Review: European Issues

Executive Summary

The last year of the 2010s has been prolific in terms of important new pieces of legislation and case law within the European Union, and in France and Germany in particular. Indeed, the European Parliament and the EU Council adopted in April 17, 2019, a controversial directive (Directive 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market) imposing on online content-sharing service providers—such as YouTube—a new liability system, based on popularity, time and turnover criteria. This directive was created to encourage these service providers to make greater efforts in fighting copyright counterfeiting on their platforms. In France, the PACTE law, which went into force on May 22, 2019, introduced new material changes—namely the strengthening of the French patent office granting procedure (extension of examination scope) and the introduction of patent opposition proceedings before the French patent office. These two legislations greatly influenced EU and French IP law across the year.


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Draft Amendment to German Patent Act May Limit Availability of Injunctions

On 14 January 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Justice published a draft act to modernize German patent law. Among other things, the draft addresses the fact that patent infringement trials proceed much quicker than parallel invalidity proceeding (which, under German law, are conducted separately). Hence, an injunction may be issued in first instance infringement proceedings before a decision on the validity of the patent in suit can be obtained; the resulting time gap between infringement and invalidity decision is called the “injunction gap” in German patent litigation. The draft modernization act seeks to improve the coordination between infringement and invalidity proceedings by having the Federal Patent Court provide a preliminary assessment of patent validity quickly. In view of such preliminary assessment, an infringement court may then stay infringement proceedings until a decision in the parallel invalidity proceedings.


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