2009 03 23 I P Semiconductor Industry


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2009 03 23 I P Semiconductor Industry

  1. 1. Protection of Intellectual Property in the Semiconductor Industry in The Netherlands Wouter Pors, Partner Bird & Bird The Hague 23 March 2009
  2. 2. Netherlands – part of European Union <ul><li>One economic region </li></ul><ul><li>One trade zone </li></ul><ul><li>27 countries </li></ul><ul><li>500 million people </li></ul><ul><li>16.5 million in The Netherlands </li></ul><ul><li>1 currency for 16 countries: Euro </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Netherlands: gateway to Europe <ul><li>Trade oriented for centuries </li></ul><ul><li>Main shipping port: Rotterdam </li></ul><ul><li>Airport hub: Amsterdam </li></ul><ul><li>Direct flights to many cities </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent logistics to Europe </li></ul><ul><li>First language: Dutch </li></ul><ul><li>Second language: English </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Netherlands: corporate hub <ul><li>Many IP holdings for Europe, due to relatively favourable taxation on royalties </li></ul><ul><li>Many distribution centres for Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Relatively large number of European head offices </li></ul><ul><li>Companies in The Netherlands are usually engaged in international trade </li></ul><ul><li>Good scientific infrastructure through university system </li></ul><ul><li>Services and high-tech oriented industry </li></ul>
  5. 5. Intellectual property law <ul><li>European law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>European Patent Convention (uniform prosecution) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Trademark Regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Design Right Regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>National law harmonized at EU level </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dutch Semiconductor Topography Act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dutch Copyright Act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trademarks and Design Rights for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dutch Database Act </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not harmonized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tort and unfair competition law </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Patent law – two options <ul><li>Dutch Patent Act </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration system, very fast grant of patents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows for immediate protection of research results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables early scientific publication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>European Patent Convention </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thorough examination of applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized application and prosecution system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized opposition system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bundle of national patents after grant </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Applicant is the owner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inventor mentioned in the application, but no special position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inventors consent not needed for prosecution </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Patent application strategy <ul><li>Research and development in The Netherlands </li></ul><ul><li>Apply for Dutch national patent </li></ul><ul><li>Apply for application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, invoking the Dutch application as priority document within 12 months </li></ul><ul><li>Enter the regional/national phase within 30 months </li></ul><ul><ul><li>European patent application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applications in other countries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Decide on registration in countries within Europe after grant of the European patent </li></ul><ul><li>Test the market before major costs are due </li></ul>
  8. 8. The patent litigation hotspots <ul><li>United Kingdom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(London) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Netherlands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(The Hague) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Germany </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(D üsseldorf, Munich, Mannheim) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rulings from these courts have authority in other countries </li></ul><ul><li>European Patent Office </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Munich, The Hague </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Patent enforcement in The Netherlands <ul><li>One specialized court in The Hague </li></ul><ul><li>Experienced judges with feeling for technology </li></ul><ul><li>Court appreciates that inventions deserve protection </li></ul><ul><li>Court takes developments in other European countries into account </li></ul><ul><li>All judgments are published on the internet </li></ul><ul><li>Proceedings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accelerated full proceedings on the merits: 12 – 14 months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preliminary injunction proceedings: 4 – 8 weeks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex parte injunction in very urgent cases: 1 -2 days </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Further protection of technology <ul><li>Semiconductor topography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires registration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not much used, since technology progresses fast and good alternatives exist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Copyright law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensues from the act of creation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No registration required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No artistic level required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Available for software and for hardware design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited exception for technically determined designs </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Copyright for semiconductor design <ul><li>Supreme Court 4-1-1991 Van Dale vs Romme </li></ul><ul><ul><li>List of 230.000 words including in an extensive Dutch dictionary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The selection of words is a decision of the editors with some subjectivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>List is a work which has an individual, original character bearing the stamp of its makers, despite limited room for own views </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court 30-05-2008 Endstra tapes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the work is so trivial that no creative efforts of any nature were involved, then no protection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But no requirement of intention of creating a copyright protected work or intentionally creative choices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limitation still is very low threshold </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Copyright for semiconductor design <ul><li>Supreme Court 24-02-2006 Technip </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protection assumed of a “ kinetic scheme ”, a set of chemical reaction comparisons that formed part of a computer simulation programme for controlling a production process in the chemical industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The kinetic scheme itself is not a computer programme </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The comparisons themselves are not protected, but the set of comparisons is copyright protected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kinetic scheme is not a pure and simple enumeration of numbers, but was created using subjective criteria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection of comparisons is not an automatic mathematical process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subjective element involved, based on the knowledge, insight and experience of the maker </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Copyright for semiconductor design <ul><li>Conclusion: semiconductor design which is the result of research and development will be copyright protected in The Netherlands </li></ul><ul><li>This part of copyright law is not yet harmonized through European Union Directives, so criteria for assuming a copyright protected work vary throughout Europe </li></ul><ul><li>For instance: German law requires a certain level of artistic character, which semiconductors lack </li></ul><ul><li>The Netherlands offer a high level of copyright protection and thereby of results of research and development </li></ul>
  14. 14. Copyright: some specifics <ul><li>Copyright is vested in the company that publishes the work without mentioning the author </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By making the product available to the public, the manufacturer is assumed to own the copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No need to identify the actual designers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evidence of existence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No registration required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However, proof of priority desirable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safe storage of “design freeze” files to prove priority </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Online “i-Depot” with Benelux Office for Intellectual Property </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Physical depot on USB-stick with a notary </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Cooperation in development <ul><li>No formal legal requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Joint venture may be designed as proprietor </li></ul><ul><li>Parties may also decide on co-ownership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each owner free to apply invention and copyrights, but licensing requires cooperation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cooperation and co-ownership governed by agreement, as parties may desire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agreement may involve power of attorney to represent co-owner in exploitation and enforcement, including representation in court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arrangement may be varied for instance per region (i.e. one partner exploits in Europe, other partner in Asia) </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Professional support <ul><li>The Netherlands have an international orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Legal professionals are used to adopt an international perspective and work in the English language </li></ul><ul><li>Several options for using a one-stop-shop for Europe </li></ul><ul><li>In general, law firms and patent attorney’s firms are separate, but there is a trend for integrated firms </li></ul>
  17. 17. Characteristics of Dutch IP protection <ul><li>Fast and reliable patent system, both for national and European patents </li></ul><ul><li>Supplementary protection available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Semiconductor topography rights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright protection for semiconductor design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good legal system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effective protection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courts appreciate importance of intellectual property </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rulings from Dutch courts are seen as having authority in other European jurisdictions (same applies to judgments from United Kingdom and Germany) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Thank you! <ul><li>Wouter Pors </li></ul><ul><li>Bird & Bird The Hague </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.twobirds.com </li></ul>