2009 was a significant year for developments in the area of intellectual property and technology. We have put together a brief list of noteworthy news, events and cases that we have covered this past year. Many of these items received top mainstream news coverage and were closely watched by the Canadian public. We are also pleased to share with you a list of the top ten most read IPilogue articles from last year. 2010 should prove to be another fascinating year!
Top Stories of 2009:
Copyright garnered a lot of attention in Canada and internationally, including Canada’s cross-country public copyright consultations this past summer, the Google Books settlement, legal battles over Star Wars stormtrooper helmets and student paper plagiarism detection systems. Amazon’s Kindle e-reader raised some new examples of unique copyright challenges associated with new technology and the Robertson v. Thomson class action was settled after 13 years of litigation in Canada. A series of P2P and file sharing sites took centre stage, with new developments in legal cases involving the Pirate Bay in Sweden, Mininova in the Netherlands, and IsoHunt in Canada.
Patent law also grabbed headlines as the US Supreme Court heard the In Re Bilski business method patent case last November. Amazon’s patent application for its one-click ordering system was rejected by the Canadian Patent Appeal Board and Toronto-based i4i Inc. won a major patent dispute over Microsoft. Patents even became a point of discussion following the news of Michael Jackson’s death. A complaint against Myriad Genetics and its gene patents was filed in 2009 and will be an interesting case to follow this year.
Trade-marks will continue to be a focal point of discussion in Canada, particularly with respect to Olympic marks (as the Winter Olympics commence in Vancouver very soon). Internationally, the EU Advocate General released an opinion that Google’s AdWords do not violate trademarks and ICANN moved to introduce new generic and internationalized top level domains. A long running disagreement over the use of the prefix “glen” in Canadian single malt whisky and a recent South African case dealing with the use of “Century City” highlighted difficulties that arise when dealing with words that arguably designate geographical origins.
Top 10 Most Read IPilogue Articles of 2009:
- The truth about Wikipedia’s flagged revisions
- Termination of Transfer of Copyright and the Estate of Jack Kirby
- A short overview on the tort of appropriation of personality
- Movie Piracy in Canada
- Potential of US Copyright Agenda to Endanger Freedom of Expression in China
- Fair Use or Fair Dealing: Which Should Give You More Comfort?
- Anti-Counterfeiting: The Success of Louis Vuitton
- In re Bilski North of the Border
- Bill C-27: An Early Critical Look at the Electronic Commerce Protection Act
- The Grey-Market: Are the Benefits Worth the Costs?
Three Things to Keep Your Eye on in 2010
- The role of Internet Service Providers in handling online copyright infringement (in particular, graduated response initiatives around the world).
- The US Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision in the business method patents case, In Re Bilski.
- Social networks and cloud computing applications will come under even greater scrutiny with respect to their privacy policies and practices.