U.S. proposes to temporarily suspend the enforceability of patents on COVID vaccines

U.S. proposes to temporarily suspend the enforceability of patents on COVID vaccines

On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced a change in the position of his administration, declaring that he will support at the World Trade Organization (WTO) a temporary suspension of the effectiveness of patents registered by multinational pharmaceutical companies on the vaccines they have developed against the coronavirus, for the duration of the pandemic. This announcement comes in response to pressure from many countries in view of the emergency situation currently being experienced in some parts of the world, for example in India and Brazil, where the pandemic is out of control. The philosophy behind this announcement is that developing countries do not have easy access to vaccines, given their scarcity and the costs involved in acquiring them to vaccinate the entire population. The intention is that all countries should be able to manufacture the necessary doses of vaccines in their territories at cost price and without having to pay the royalties derived from the exclusive rights generated by the patents. U.S. Foreign Trade Representative Katherine Tai justifies this proposal by stating that “This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures“. Not surprisingly, there have been immediate reactions both for and against the proposal. The WHO is obviously very interested and values the measure very positively, while the pharmaceutical companies have been very critical of it, since in some way they value a suspension of the effectiveness of their patents, in which they have invested billions of euros, as a kind of expropriation of their right to amortize their investments and obtain...
A Barcelona court finds Lidl guilty of patent infringement of the Thermomix® food processor

A Barcelona court finds Lidl guilty of patent infringement of the Thermomix® food processor

The judgment of the Commercial Court No. 5 of Barcelona of January 19, 2021 (JUR\2021\14695) resolves the conflict raised between Vorwerk, holder of a European patent validated in Spain that protects the technology incorporated in a food processor (popularly known in the market by the trademark Thermomix®), which in June 2019 filed a lawsuit for infringement of its patent against LIDL Supermarkets. The defendant manufactures a similar food processor, but marketed at a much lower price, known in the market under the trademark Silvercrest® and commercially identified as ‘Monsieur Cuisine Connect’.  The defendant, LIDL, defended itself with two arguments. On the one hand, it filed a counterclaim, challenging the validity of Vorwerk’s patent, for alleged lack of novelty and inventive step of the main claim (R1); It also alleged that in the process of granting the patent the applicant had incurred in the prohibition of addition of subject matter (art. 102.1.c LP), i.e., that it had modified the wording beyond what is allowed by the rules – to clarify its scope – extending the scope of the exclusive right that the application had at the time it was initially filed; that is, on its priority date. Patent scope of protection: The court considers that, although the cooking machines were already known, the invention consists in the patented cooking machine operating safely by means of circuits that allow the independent operation of the stirring and weighing devices, in such a way that when the switch is actuated, the stirring vessel stops working, but not the weighing function. The advantage, therefore, is that in the initial stage the shaker vessel is...
Code of conduct on the use of influencers in advertising

Code of conduct on the use of influencers in advertising

The boom of social networks has meant a change of paradigm in the world of advertising. The use by companies of social networks and influencers as an advertising strategy, has generated the concern to avoid surreptitious advertising. This type of advertising activity, like any other, is subject to current Spanish legislation, and in particular, what the doctrine has called the “Principle of authenticity” or “Principle of identification of advertising”, derived from the legal prohibitions provided by Law 3/1991, on Unfair Competition, and other sectorial regulations. As a result of the above, on October 9, the Spanish Advertisers Association (“AEA”) and the Association for the Self-Regulation of Commercial Communication (“Autocontrol”) established a “Code of Conduct on the use of influencers in advertising” (hereinafter, the “Code”), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, through which the deontological framework is established that will link all members of the AEA and Autocontrol, as well as any other companies in the sector (advertisers, agencies, representatives, media) or influencers that voluntarily adhere to the code of conduct. This Code can be accessed here. The date of entry into force is January 1, 2021. The companies that are members of the AEA and AUTOCONTROL, as well as the influencers and other companies that adhere to the Code, commit themselves to comply with the rules included in the Code in their commercial communications. Moreover, the companies adhering to the Code commit themselves to inform the influencers they hire in their advertising campaigns about its existence, demanding the fulfillment of the Code’s ethical rules and favoring the possible adherence...
Alert! Online contact details for key measures introduced by the UK Government to combat the actual and potential economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic

Alert! Online contact details for key measures introduced by the UK Government to combat the actual and potential economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic

Under the recent MARCH 2020 UK BUDGET and the further announcements following it, the UK government introduced a number of measures aimed at softening the economic impact, particularly on small to medium-sized(SMEs) companies following the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent controls put into place to curtail its further spread nationally or internationally. Both the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak in their respective speeches, vouch to do whatever it takes to support the British economy and help millions of businesses. The measures are under regular review and may well include further proposals, but for the time being, some of the more relevant steps in relation to small to medium sized enterprises are:  £330 billion of government-backed loans, known as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to be made available to businesses via two channels Large firms can access a facility agreed with the Bank of England to provide liquidity; and SMEs can apply for the CBILS scheme. This was initially announced under the Budget to be up to £1.2 million per company, but has now been increased to £5 million. It will allow any business that needs access to cash to pay their rent, salaries, suppliers or purchase stock to be able to get a government-backed credit or loan on attractive terms. The loan is interest free for the first 6 months and available on repayment terms of up to six years. Both these schemes are up and running from yesterday, 23rd March, 2020, so smaller businesses accross the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow can make applications for facilities...
Immediate extraordinary support to companies in Portugal, further to COVID-19 fighting measures

Immediate extraordinary support to companies in Portugal, further to COVID-19 fighting measures

TELEWORKING Upon initiative either of the employer or the employee, and without the need of an agreement between the parties, provided it is possible professional activities will be carried out by teleworking whilst required. The employee maintains the obligation of working the number of hours set out in the employment contract or in the collective agreement. The employee is entitled to 100% of the salary.   SIMPLIFIED LAYOFF SET OUT UNDER MINISTERIAL ORDER 71-A/2020 OF 15TH MARCH AND 76-B/2020 OF 18th MARCH Layoff is permitted by reducing the normal working periods or suspending the activity without suspending the employment contracts. It is an exceptional and faster measure to apply within a very short period upon the request of the employee in order to prevent the risk of unemployment. Considering the Covid19 pandemic we are facing, the Government has defined the circumstances under which employees may apply for a simplified layoff and qualify for a financial support from the state. A company is deemed in crisis: 1. Upon the complete stop of the company or the establishment’s activity which arises from the interruption of the global supply chains or from the suspension or cancelation of orders; or 2. Unexpected breakdown of, at least 40% of the invoicing in the 60 days prior to the request to the Social Security, against the same period or, in the event the activity has commenced less than 12 months ago earlier to the average of such period. Any of the above-mentioned requirements classifies the company in crisis which is verified by the declaration of the employer and certification of the company’s chartered accountant. How...