Monthly Archives: June 2016

Speech: National and International-level concerns and developments regarding the IP landscape

Thank you.

I am delighted to be here at The Royal Society for the UNION summer reception. My thanks to all those who have organised this evening’s event, and especially to Gwilym Roberts.

I don’t know whether you planned it this way when you settled on a date for this reception, but there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are gathering in interesting times.

It’s clear that there are many questions – not all of which can yet be answered.

But I would like to begin with a clear message: The UK has one of the world’s best intellectual property environments. The changes that will be triggered by the outcome of last Thursday’s vote will not alter that.

You can continue to expect outstanding, professionally delivered rights granting services including design rights; and copyright owners can expect that the framework will support creativity. The UK will continue to be envied around the world for the quality of its enforcement environment. We will continue to lead in international IP discussions. We will continue our work to build an environment that allows innovative and creative businesses across the UK to develop their ideas and exploit them effectively.

The changes that will come will take time to work through. Nothing will happen immediately. Today, the UK remains a member of the EU and will continue to engage with EU business as normal and be engaged in EU decision-making in the usual way until Article 50 is invoked.

When that happens and when we begin the process of negotiating, I will be working to make sure that those negotiations deliver an outcome that is right for British inventors, creators, service providers, businesses and consumers.

Some of you will have seen Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s piece in the Sunday Times at the weekend. I share his optimism for our future. Our economy has deep, strong foundations. No referendum has the power to dampen our capacity for innovation. We will remain the world’s greatest creators.

And whilst there will inevitably be some uncertainty as the exit process unfolds, we will continue to succeed in turning those talents into global success.

I know that many of you will be particularly concerned about the potential implications of the Referendum result for the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court. Again, I am afraid that there is not much I can say at this stage. As you will know, we will have a new Prime Minister in early September who will need to take key decisions on our overall approach to negotiations on trade with the EU.

We will be using the period before September to prepare for the key decisions, and I have no doubt that our position on the Unitary Patent and Court will feature in these discussions. I will want to hear your views on the way ahead and as soon as we can I will of course share our thinking with you.

Zooming out slightly, and looking back, it is now almost two years since I became the Minister for Intellectual Property – quite a long spell for that role so I hope you value continuity! Before that, I had a more varied career than most, but with little experience of IP. So I had to learn the brief – (a highly technical one as I soon found out during a tough debate on copyright exceptions!) – very quickly. This was before being whisked off to China only two weeks into the role.

Luckily this was not a completely new experience. In an unexpected move I became company secretary of Tesco at the age of 52. Since I did not have a relevant qualification I had to take the exam for Company Secretary, which I did by studying on Friday evenings after a full week’s work. It was very good for the soul and even taught me the basics of IP. But being aware that you are all very skilled patent practitioners, and that I have a Q&A session following this, please let me stress the word basic.

Tonight is a good opportunity to update you all on our progress towards making Britain ‘…the best place in Europe to innovate, patent new ideas and set up and expand a business, to quote our election manifesto.

Two weeks ago, I was delighted to read the latest Taylor Wessing’s Global Intellectual Property Index (GIPI5), in which the UK came out well. On patents we are ranked first in the world. The overall result – third – was a good one – but as sportsmen always rightly say you are only as good as your last performance. We will do our best to maintain our strong position.

I would like to reflect this evening on a number of aspects of the Intellectual Property Office’s work: its domestic work to support education, commercialisation, and innovation; and its international policy leadership, particularly in relation to China, and patent harmonisation.

Education

Everyone is agreed that we need to do more to raise the level of awareness of Intellectual Property, especially among the young digitally-savvy generations of tomorrow. Our programme, ‘Education in IP’, aims to foster respect for innovation and to support the commercialisation of formal IP rights. We need to make sure that today’s creators earn a living from their work; and we need to carry on with the good work so that future generations can do so to.

We are making progress. Take, for example, the IPOs Think Kit. This is an education resource for Key Stages 1 to 4 that puts IP issues in a relevant context for students. It encourages them to think about not only how to protect their ideas, but the importance of recognizing and respecting the ideas created by others. Last year we reached 1.1 million consumers and young people with our campaigns, so we seem to have some satisfied customers there.

And in the case of universities, our goal is to see intellectual property included in a much wider range of university courses in more universities across the UK. Students are focused on getting a return from their ideas, and so are universities. To make this happen we have been working with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure that IP is included in their subject benchmark statements for relevant courses. We have already had successes with IP now featuring in QAA’s engineering, business and management, and biosciences standards.

Knowledge exchange and commercialisation

But whilst education is undoubtedly important so is the other side of the IP coin – commercialisation. We are committed to supporting collaboration between businesses and universities to stimulate innovation and economic growth. Indeed, this year we will be launching an updated Lambert Toolkit, which provides model collaboration agreements as a starting point for negotiations around the ownership of any IP generated during a joint university-business project.

We do, however, recognise that there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to IP. So we have published a guide to help universities develop their own strategies suited to their own organisation and business models.

Diversity

Now, as some of you may know, I also hold some ministerial responsibilities for diversity. So, before I move on I would like to say a special thank you to Andrea Brewster for her work to promote diversity during her presidency of CIPA.

International aspects

Finally, I would like to turn to international matters which extend far beyond Europe. Last week I was at the OECDs important digital economy summit in Cancun and I was pleased by how many fellow Ministers referenced IP. I should mention in passing one of the highlights – the Canadian Minister’s adage that Innovation is a mindset. That is a refrain for all of those who love IP.

I also met a Minister from China – a country that is pivotal to our international success in getting IP registered and enforced.

As you will have seen from the coverage of last year’s Chinese State Visit to the UK, we appear to be in a ‘golden era’ of UK – China relations, with cooperation on IP at the heart of our relationship.

Let me give you a practical example of what this means for patenting. Over recent years, a number of bilateral agreements have been signed between Patent Offices to promote work-sharing and enable patent applicants to request accelerated processing in the national phase, where patent examiners can make use of the work products from the other Offices. And I am pleased to announce an agreement to renew our bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement with China. This will now run for an indefinite period and we believe that it will cement 20 years of collaboration. I hope that this is a useful development for users, who can generally obtain a final action more quickly when applications are processed under this agreement.

I am very grateful for the continued support of the UK’s IP Enterprise Court, representatives of whom are here tonight. In particular, I am grateful to His Honour Judge Hacon for agreeing to a further visit to China this summer, to take forward joint work on a range of issues, including damages calculations, evidential standards, and interim injunctions. These are issues that matter a lot to both Chinese and British firms litigating in China.

And, this week, we are hosting a week long patent examiner exchange with the State Intellectual Property Office. This includes an in-depth exchange with a series of workshops and presentations to enhance the understanding of examination practice in each Office and to enable the professional development of individual examiners and examining teams. I hope that our working relationship will continue to strengthen.

In this vein, I am pleased to confirm my visit to China during the week commencing 22 August, and encourage you all to participate.

Patent Harmonisation

Turning now to the important issue of global patent harmonisation. I would like to mention the crucially important involvement of industry and patent user groups in the work of Group B+ towards achieving progress in this area.

I spent an excellent evening with the B+ group during their recent visit to London, and made the point that the need for harmonisation has never been greater. Businesses operate internationally, the Internet knows no borders, and the more we can do to help creators and businesses to navigate the patent system – the more they will be able to grow and boost the global economy.

Through the hard work and collaboration of officials and industry experts, we have made significant steps towards a solution.

But I appreciate that reaching agreement on these issues is not simple. There can be fundamental differences in the underlying philosophies of different patent systems, so users who have grown accustomed to their native systems can be reluctant to change.

But this will not be change for the sake of change. If the task can be approached with willingness and open minds from all sides, the prize will be a simple, harmonised framework which rewards innovative businesses and individuals from all backgrounds. I would like to really encourage your continued involvement in, and of course honest feedback on our work going forward.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude by thanking you for your continued contribution towards securing a sustainable future for intellectual property, not just in the UK but around the world. From education, to commercialisation, to patent harmonisation – progress has been good. I know that by continuing to work together, especially in times of change, we can continue to achieve real improvements together.

Source: UK IPO News

Press release: Prison time for couple running fake BMW accessories scam

A church warden and his wife have received prison sentences after admitting selling fake BMW merchandise worth millions of pounds.

Stephen Anderson, 49, and his wife Elizabeth Anderson, based in Ballymena Northern Ireland, made more than £1 million selling counterfeit BMW goods via online auction site EBay.

The investigation found that the goods, including tyre valve caps, car stickers, and BMW cuff links, were imported regularly from South East Asia via post offices in the East Midlands and Coventry.

The couple’s crime spree helped fund a glamorous lifestyle. Two luxury sports cars and vast quantities of designer clothing have been seized by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Prosecutors have also requested a confiscation of the couple’s assets which have an estimated value of over £1 million.

The Andersons have been sentenced to a combined total of 2 years in prison.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), working closely with BMW, began a covert financial investigation in 2013 which revealed that the church warden and his wife were making more than £40,000 a month.

Baroness Neville Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property, said:

This is yet another example of the effectiveness of intelligence sharing. The partnership between government, law enforcement, and the private sector is vital in the fight against criminal counterfeiter traders.

The sale of fake goods online is a challenging area to police, so I am very pleased to see how impactful the financial investigation by the IPO’s Intelligence Hub has been. The government is committed to helping legitimate businesses and police forces stamp out illicit trade whenever and wherever it appears.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Gillis of Police Service Northern Ireland’s Reactive and Organised Crime unit, said:

The market for car products linked to prestige brands is substantial. Those who seek to subvert this market by making and selling counterfeit products are putting jobs at risk and reducing legitimate profits. They are also taking money out of the legitimate economy and its tax revenues which pay for public services.

We remain committed to working with industry to ensure that producers, workers and the public are protected from fraudsters. I would urge anyone with information about the manufacture, distribution or sale of any counterfeit products to contact police.

Notes to Editors

The UK Intellectual Property Office:

  • the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is responsible for Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the United Kingdom, including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright
  • the UK sees IP enforcement, whether civil or criminal, as crucial for innovation and economic growth, and supports the coordination and cooperation across the IP community to tackle counterfeiting and piracy
  • the UK IPO released an enforcement strategy: ‘Protecting creativity, supporting innovation: IP enforcement 2020’ in May 2016. This strategy sets out how the government will make effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights a priority for the next four years

The Proceeds of Crime Act:

  • the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) sets out the legislative scheme for the recovery of criminal assets with criminal confiscation being the most commonly used power
  • confiscation occurs after a conviction has taken place. Other means of recovering the proceeds of crime which do not require a conviction are provided for in the Act, namely civil recovery, cash seizure and taxation powers
  • the Act also provides for a number of investigative powers, such as search and seizure powers, and powers to apply for production orders and disclosure orders, and allows for the “restraint” or “freezing” of assets to prevent dissipation of assets prior to a confiscation order being made

Source: UK IPO News

News story: IPO customer visit programme 2015

The PD Customer Visit Programme is now established within the Patents, Trade marks and Designs Directorate of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). We have gone out and met our customers and asked what they think of what we do.

We have now collated all the information we received on the visits and have prepared a report on the programme for the year.


Customer visit programme 2015
(PDF, 819KB, 32 pages)

If you would like us to visit you, please contact:

Suzanne Gregson / Eleanor Wade

Customer Visit Programme managers

Intellectual Property Office

Concept House

Cardiff Road

Newport

South Wales

NP10 8QQ

United Kingdom

Our customer visit programme for 2013 and 2014 is available.

Source: UK IPO News

Teaming Up to Cure Cancer

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Anyone who has held the hand of a friend or family member suffering through chemotherapy and radiation or comforted a friend or colleague dealing with the loss of a loved one understands the savagery of cancer. With a disease that causes such devastation and loss, we are often left feeling alone and with more questions than answers.

During his final State of the Union, President Obama reminded all of us that we are not alone in this fight against cancer, and that if we work together, answers are within our reach.  With a nearly $1 billion dollar budget and a commitment to success, the President is committed to doubling the rate of progress in cancer research and treatment.

The President’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative is not an endeavor that one person or one institution can accomplish in isolation. Such a herculean goal requires, as Vice President Biden opined, “… the need for more team science and increased collaboration among the private sector, academia, patient foundations, and the government.”  Working together through public and private partnerships, we can overcome the many barriers that currently impede progress towards treatment and we can identify where resources can be more strategically included to foster and advance solutions.

The USPTO is proud to join this team of allies in the President’s effort to refocus, reinvent, and reprioritize the fight to cure cancer. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” it fits squarely in our mission to contribute to this massive and just cause. And, in collaboration with the Vice President’s office, we are excited to unveil two major projects to support the National Cancer Moonshot. 

To start, we are implementing a free initiative in July called Patents 4 Patients that will “fast-track” reviews of patent applications related to cancer treatment. The goal of this accelerated program is to complete review of applications that are accepted into the program in one year or less after they are received. The sooner we can identify and patent these innovations, the closer we are to a cure.

In addition to this “fast-track” program, we will unveil an Intellectual Property (IP) “Horizon Scanning Tool”. This tool will allow the public and the federal government to analyze and build rich visualizations of intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful R&D. When combined with other economic and funding data (such as Security and Exchange Commission filings, FDA reports and National Science Foundation grants), the Horizon Scanning Tool can illuminate trend lines for new treatments and allow federal funding and policy efforts to be more targeted.

President Kennedy’s revolutionary moonshot challenge to the American people more than 50 years ago was a galvanizing call to collective action to achieve a worthwhile yet potentially unattainable goal in a very short period of time. That historic call to action echoes today.

President Obama recognizes that data and technology innovators can play a role in revolutionizing how medical and research data are shared and used to reach new breakthroughs. Innovations in data and technology can break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together. Working together and sharing information, we can provide hope to the more than 1.6 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.  

It is my desire that we also inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue new discoveries. I am proud of the part the USPTO will play in this most worthwhile effort, and I count as well on your strong support.

With the leadership of President Obama and under the guidance of Vice President Biden, we can make a difference and we can change the future so that upcoming generations do not have to experience the same pain that cancer has caused over the last decades.

For information and updates on how the USPTO is advancing President Obama’s call for a Cancer Moonshot, please visit www.uspto.gov/about-us/national-cancer-moonshot.

 

Source: USPTO

News story: UK and China IP offices extend Patent Prosecution Highway PPH pilot programme

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme between the State Intellectual Property Office of the P.R.C (SIPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) started on 1 July 2014. The programme was due to expire on 30 June 2016.

To continue ensuring the benefits of expeditious, inexpensive and high-quality examination for applicants and the benefits of avoiding duplicative work and reducing the examination workload, the SIPO and the UKIPO will extend the PPH pilot programme for an indefinite time period. This will start on 1 July 2016. The present documents concerning the requirements and procedures of the PPH pilot programme shall continue to apply.

The PPH allows applicants who have been successful in obtaining a patent at one office to request accelerated processing of a corresponding application at the other. The second office can make use of the work undertaken by the first office to more quickly and efficiently process the application.

Footnotes:

The initial pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme was launched today on 1st July 2014 between the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China. The launch of the pilot programme followed the signing of a Joint Statement of Intent by the IPO and SIPO as part of the Prime Minister’s visit to China in December 2013.

The UK Intellectual Property Office has existing PPH agreements with the following organisations:

  • IP Australia (IP Australia)
  • Austrian Patent Office (APO)
  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
  • Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO)
  • Estonian Patent Office (EPA)
  • Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH)
  • German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA)
  • Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO)
  • Icelandic Patent Office (IPO)
  • Israel Patent Office (ILPO)
  • Japan Patent Office (JPO)
  • Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)
  • Nordic Patent Institute (NPI)
  • Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO)
  • Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI)
  • Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (ROSPATENT)
  • Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS)
  • Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO)
  • Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Source: UK IPO News

Recent Developments-Contract interpretation

Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

The cba between The Western Sugar Cooperative and the Teamsters creates two categories of employees. Employees who work at least 1680 hours within a twelve months period are classified as “year round employees.” Employees failing to meet that threshold are categorized as “seasonal” employees. The cba provides greater employment security for year round employees. No provision of the cba explicitly limits the company’s ability to lay off seasonal employees. When Western Sugar laid off two seasonal employees to prevent them from attaining the number of hours necessary for them to become year round employees the Teamsters filed a grievance. The dispute was submitted to Arbitrator Frederick Kessler for resolution. Arbitrator Kessler upheld the grievance. (His award can be found here) He concluded that the company’s actions in laying off the employees specifically for the purpose of making them ineligible to become year round employees violated the implied “covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” He observed:


If this practice is upheld, it makes meaningless the provisions of the Labor Agreement, which describes the process, which the parties agreed, an employee could attain year-round status. Arbitration cannot sanction an interpretation which makes a provision meaningless. Such an interpretation destroys or injures the right of the other party to receive the fruits of the contract.


Western Sugar sought to vacate the award, but the District Court refused to do so. The Court found that the Arbitrator was acting within his authority in interpreting the cba. Western Sugar Cooperative v. Teamsters Local 190. Rejecting the company’s contrary claim, the Court noted:

Neither party disputes … that the subject matter of the grievance was properly before the arbitrator, or that he had the authority to render a decision on the grievance. Instead, Western Sugar disputes the reasoning upon which the grievance was decided. This is, in essence, not a question of whether the arbitrator exceeded his boundaries but whether he correctly interpreted the CBA.

Western Sugar argues that there is no express provision in the CBA that could have supported the result found by the arbitrator and provides excerpts of testimony from the arbitration in support of its argument. But so far as the arbitrator’s decision concerns construction of the contract, “the courts have no business overruling him because their interpretation of the contract is different from his.” Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp.,363 U.S. at 599.

The Court concluded that the Arbitrator’s reliance on implied terms was within his authority to interpret and apply the cba.



NLRB’s refusal to defer to arbitrator’s award overturned

The DC Circuit has refused to enforce a decision of the NLRB rejecting an arbitrator’s award and finding that Verizon committed an unfair labor practice by telling employees to remove informational picket signs from their vehicles. Verizon New England v. NLRB  The cba waived employees’ right to picket during the contract term. When a labor dispute arose prior to expiration of the cba, employees visibly displayed pro-union signs in cars parked on Verizon property and lined up so passers-by would see the signs. An arbitrator ultimately concluded that this activity was “picketing” prohibited by the language of the cba. Despite the arbitrator’s award,  the NLRB General Counsel issued a complaint. The ALJ found that the arbitrator’s decision was not “palpably wrong” and was entitled to deference. On Verizon’s exceptions, the Board rejected the arbitrator’s conclusion, finding it “clearly repugnant” and refused to defer.


The Board determined that the language of the cba did not constitute a clear and unmistakable waiver. Reviewing the contract language, the Board concluded that “the contractual provisions cited by the Respondent and considered by the arbitration panel neither address nor reasonably encompass employees’ display of signs in their personal vehicles….”

In rejecting the Board’s analysis, the Court concluded 

To state the obvious, the fact that the Board might read a contract term differently than the arbitrator read it does not suffice to make an arbitration decision “palpably wrong.” Rather, as the Board has previously stated, its highly deferential standard of review “recognizes that the parties have accepted the possibility that an arbitrator might decide a particular set of facts differently than would the Board. This possibility, however, is one which the parties have voluntarily assumed through collective bargaining.”

The Court found that the arbitration panel’s decision was susceptible to an interpretation consistent with the Act and was not a “palpably wrong” interpretation of the cba. Accordingly it found the Board’s contrary conclusion unreasonable and denied enforcement. 

The Board’s decision in this case predated its newer, less deferential standard of review announced in Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co. 361 N.L.R.B No.132


Erosion of the bargaining unit

Arbitrator James Lundberg issued an award in a dispute between ExxonMobil and Steelworkers Local11-470. Following the retirement of a bargaining unit janitor at the company’s Billings, Montana facility, ExxonMobil contracted the word formerly performed by the employee to an outside janitorial service. The Union grieved the decision, claiming that the company’s actions violated a cba provision stating:


 “The Company will not erode the bargaining unit by job reduction through transferring work customarily performed by classifications covered by this Agreement to employees excluded from the bargaining unit in Article II of this Agreement.”

In its defense, the Company relied on language, more recently added to the cba, that stated:

“This agreement shall not limit the right of the Company to contract out work so long as such contracting does not cause a layoff of employees covered by this agreement.”

The Company maintained that the erosion of the bargaining unit language was intended to deal with the transfer of work from bargaining unit employees to salaried employees. It claimed that the later negotiated contracting language was clear and unambiguous and allowed the company to contract the work in issue since no employees was laid off as a result. The Union relied on a 1978 award under a predecessor contract which it alleged did not limit the erosion language in the manner the company claimed.

Rejecting the company’s position, Arbitrator Lundberg noted that the 1978 award, as well as an award addressing the interrelationship between the two cba provisions had never been modified in negotiations. He concluded:

While the Employer clearly disagrees with the interpretation of the bargaining unit erosion language made in 1978, the parties have not bargained any change in the provision. Moreover, the negotiations have repeatedly stalled over elimination of the In-Plant Janitor position. The Company can demonstrate that the cost of maintaining the position is greater than using a contractor but either the Union is not asking for a quid pro quo or the Employer is not offering something in return. Instead, the parties continue to approach the issue indirectly. By not coming to terms with the underlying issues in negotiations the parties have repeatedly needed up in arbitration. In this situation, the work of the In-Plant Janitor should continue to be filled by a bargaining unit employee, until such time as the parties are able to resolve the dispute through negotiations. 

The Company sought to vacate the award arguing, inter alia, that the Arbitrator improperly relied on earlier arbitration awards, and had improperly modified the cba by changing the meaning of the erosion language from transfer of work to other Company employees to transfer to third party, non employee contractors.


The Court rejected this effort, concluding

… Arbitrator Lundberg looked at and at least arguably construed and applied the Agreement. That he also considered the parties’ past practice, informed by and reflected in previous arbitration awards construing the same bargaining unit erosion provision as that contained in the 2012 Agreement, was not error and did not render his Award one that did not derive its essence from the Agreement. Thus, it cannot reasonably be argued that Arbitrator Lundberg simply dispensed his own brand of industrial justice.


The Court’s opinion can be found here.


Source: ADR

Post termination conduct, just cause and public policy

The saga involving a sheriff’s deputy first dismissed for allegedly stealing two potted plants continues.

As discussed here (Arbitrator rejects termination of Sheriff’s deputy based on allegation of theft, but finds post termination shoplifting warrants suspension) the deputy was accused of stealing the plants from a city park. Grievant claimed she believed they had been abandoned. Arbitrator Dennis McGilligan, applying a “clear and convincing” burden of proof standard, concluded that the City had failed to establish grievant intended to steal the plants. However he found that she had failed to follow the department’s policy on abandoned property and deemed a thirty day suspension appropriate. Reacting to testimony concerning grievants admitted post termination conduct of retail theft (shoplifting) the arbitrator noted that while there was little information in the record concerning the incident he deemed a sixty day suspension appropriate.

The Sheriff’s office sought to vacate the award, arguing that the arbitrator utilized the wrong standard of proof and improperly ruled on the shoplifting incident. The court remanded the matter back to Arbitrator McGilligan for reconsideration under a preponderance of the evidence standard, and also agreed with the Sheriff that the shoplifting incident had been improperly considered. On remand the arbitrator again found a thirty day suspension warranted for the claimed plant theft.

The Sheriff’s office reinstated grievant in accord with the award but dismissed her for the shoplifting incident.

The propriety of that  termination was submitted to Arbitrator Timothy Tobin. Arbitrator Tobin found that the second termination was also without just cause. (Arbitrator: Misconduct between initial termination and reinstatement no basis for post reinstatement termination). He found that since grievant was not employed by the Sheriff at the time of the incident there was no basis for discipline. He ordered her reinstatement.

The Sheriff’s Office also appealed this decision and, according to press reports, the Sangamon County court has overturned the award. (Decision upholds terminationJudge rules sheriff doesn’t have to reinstate Sangamon County deputy fired after theft). According to the reports, Judge John Schmidt concluded that the arbitrator’s award “is repugnant to the firm, clear and resolute public policy against retail theft” He observed that such acts “are more disturbing when committed by law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the law.” Accordingly he found that required grievant’s reinstatement would be contrary to public policy.
Source: ADR

"Double hearsay" insufficient to support teacher tenure charge

Arbitrator Edmund Gerber has granted a teacher’s motion to dismiss tenure charges brought against him. The teacher was alleged to have engaged in a number of inappropriate actions, including, inter alia,  brushing up against the breasts of a 12 year old student, making “cat calls” to the student when she was in the hallway, touching the exposed bra strap of another student and making “creepy comments” to her, and “constantly” staring at a student during wrestling class.

In support of the charges, the School District offered a Statement of Evidence signed by the Superintendent. The Statement included attached emails and notes concerning the superintendent’s conversations with the Board’s attorney, the local police and prosecutor, and unsigned statements of two school administrators who interviewed the students involved. The attachments did not included any signed statements from the complaining students. The teacher claimed that the Superintendent’s Statement of Evidence did not assert any personal knowledge on her part.

Granting the teacher’s motion to dismiss the charges, Arbitrator Gerber concluded:

The Superintendent … swore to a statement of evidence and signed under oath the tenure charges but nothing in the record indicated she directly participated in the investigation of the student’s complaints or talked to any of those students and/or their parents. Moreover the documents which were relied upon when the tenure charges were brought before the Board consisted of emails and unsigned memorandum from the school administrators who conducted the investigation and the Superintendent’s own notes. There are no signed statements from any of the complaining students or their parents. N.J.S.A 18A:6-11 requires that a “written Statement of Evidence under oath to support such charge shall be presented the Board,” …  An oath connotes swearing to the truth of the facts asserted. Here however, no signed written statement by someone with direct knowledge of the alleged events was ever presented to the Board.  The tenure charges were certified on the basis of double hearsay.

Finding this insufficient to meet the statutory requirements Arbitrator Gerber dismissed the charges without prejudice and order the teacher’s reinstatement with no loss of salary.

Arbitrator Gerber’s opinion can be found here.

The importance of testimony from someone with personal knowledge is also discussed at Importance of live witness testimony
Source: ADR

Guidance: Intellectual Property training course: IP Master Class

This specialist intellectual property training course is a master class for anyone wanting to develop their knowledge and skills in identifying and managing IP such as trade marks, copyright, designs and patents.

This guide contains information on:

  • why you should attend the IP Master Class
  • course agenda
  • venue
  • available dates
  • cost

For further information on the course please email ipmasterclass@ipo.gov.uk.

Source: UK IPO News

News story: 1 July 2016: Update to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) fees

The fees for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications is changing on 1 July 2016 and are as follows:

Transmittal fee

  • £75

Search fee

  • £1503

International fee:

  • £980: first 30 pages
  • £11: each sheet over 30

Request for restoration of priority

  • £150

Reductions for e-filing:

  • £147: electronic filing (not being in character coded format)
  • £221: electronic filing (being in character coded format)

Fees for preparation of priority document

  • £20

Fees for preparation of earlier search documents

  • £5

PCT forms

Further information

Source: UK IPO News