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🔒 Tomorrow, the super patent is born


In today’s email:

  • WFH is dying

  • Asda is going shopping

  • ASOS is selling clothes shares

  • BA cancelled a bunch of flights

  • Wanna confront how old you really are?

  • Protect your clever inventions more easily

  • The AI website that helps law students do tutorial reading faster

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

The new Unitary Patent system comes into force tomorrow.

While it’s meant to be easier, faster and cheaper than the existing patent system, companies might not immediately go for it for two main reasons:

1. it’s unfamiliar (kinda self-explanatory), and

2. any decision of the Unified Patent Court (the new court) applies in all the participating jurisdictions (so, if there’s a decision made against a company in one place, they could suddenly have the same issue in 23 other places).


It seems like most big law firms are kinda over the work-from-home thing.

Skadden’s made headlines as the firm is forcing its people to come back into the office for 4 days per week.

I started my career in law during the pandemic, so pretty much had my whole training contract experience remotely.

And even now, after qualifying, most people at my firm come in 2 or 3 days per week.

So, I can’t really compare it to the 5-day-a-week old normal way of working.

But I don’t feel that I’ve suffered hugely from working from home 2 or 3 days each week.

I’ve still made relationships and managed to develop as a lawyer (at least I think I have… maybe in reality I have no mates and know nothing about law lol).

So I don’t really understand the intense push to work from the office for 4 and eventually 5 days each week.

I enjoyed reading Cailtlin McFee’s great post on this topic which includes some terrifying quotes from law firms partners. Spoiler alert: some partners hate remote working.

Let me know what you think!

🏢 How many days would you like to work in the office?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

- Idin


🔒 Tomorrow, the super patent is born

What’s going on here?

This week (on 1 June 2023 to be exact) the Unitary Patent system is coming into force.

It’s meant to be a better patent system for Europe – basically one patent that will cover you across (nearly) the whole of the European Union.

Which countries are participating?

Out of the 27 current EU countries, 24 have agreed to participate in the Unitary Patent System.

Spain and Poland didn’t sign up and Croatia missed the boat (for now) because it joined the EU in July 2013, after this patent agreement was signed.

So, the UK’s not part of it?

Nope - the UK originally signed the patent agreement, but then Brexit happened, remember?

How does the system work?

Before the Unitary Patent system: Inventors file a patent application with the European Patent Office (EPO) and then choose specific countries where they want their patent to be valid. Each country treats the patent as a separate national patent, with its own rules and fees.

After the Unitary Patent system: Inventors choose to have their patent cover all EU member states that have agreed to the system. This means they only need to file one application and pay one set of fees – much easier!

How much does a Unitary Patent cost?

To apply for one, it costs nothing, nada, zilch.

You just need to pay one yearly renewal fee and the end of the term (as opposed to the old system where you needed to pay yearly fees for each country).

How will disputes be dealt with?

There’s a new court called the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and it’s responsible for hearing cases involving these new patents. The Court will be spread across different European cities and the panel of judges will also be from different places.

Right now, patent disputes are dealt with by the national courts of the country where the patent is validated.

But any disputes related to Unitary Patents will be decided by the UPC — it’s not clear if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

That’s because any decision of the UPC will affects a patent in all the participating countries.

Some companies are happy that this is a way to know for sure how strong their patent is (if it’s protected by a decision somewhere, the case can be relied on in all the participating countries).

But some are worried it makes them more vulnerable (if they lose their case in one jurisdiction, it applies in all the participating countries so they suddenly have issues to deal with all over the place).

What are the benefits of the new system?

  • 💰 Simple and cheap: The new system makes it easier and cheaper to protect inventions in Europe. This means less paperwork and lower expenses, making it an attractive option for companies (especially for small and medium-sized businesses).

  • 💎 Clear protection: The new UPC court system offers a more efficient and certain way to settle patent disputes. This lowers the chance of lengthy lawsuits — it means businesses can resolve conflicts faster and rely more heavily on the decision (as it’ll apply in all participating jurisdictions).

What about the downsides of the new system?

  • 🚫 No track record: The Unified Patent Court is a completely new system with no previous case law or track record to understand how it might operate. This might make businesses (and their lawyers advising them) a bit uncomfortable.

  • 🙅‍♂️ Not diversified: Larger companies may take a more balanced approach to not commit to the new Unitary Patent route and keep some of their patents in the old system (you’re allowed to do this). This could be to benefit from their familiarity with these systems and the case law.

What issues will companies have to think about?

When deciding on patent protection in Europe, patent owners have to choose if they want to opt for the new Unitary Patent or stick to the old system.

Businesses in different sectors might approach it differently too.

Morag Macdonald, a partner in Bird & Bird’s intellectual property team, said the Unitary Patent could be appealing in the electronics industry, as it offers coverage in multiple countries in one go. “If you are trying to get leverage to license your patents, then this could be quite attractive. For other areas of industry, it is maybe more questionable as to how attractive it is going to be.”

Why should law firms care about this?

Intellectual property lawyers should care about the new system as it represents a huge change in the practice of patent law in Europe.

Law firms will need to be familiar with the new rules and procedures to file these Unitary Patents and also become accustomed to the process of Unified Patent Court.

Lawyers will probably be asked by clients to advise on the positive or negatives of sticking or switching to the new system - as we’ve seen from Morag Macdonald’s comments, it’s not always as easy as ‘go for the shiny, new, cheaper option’.


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  • 🛒 Asda (the supermarket chain) is acquiring 350 petrol stations from EG Group (a petrol station giant) for £2.3bn. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2023 and will create a massive company with around 170,000 employees, operating nearly 600 supermarkets, 700 petrol forecourts, and 100 convenience stores. The deal involved a bunch of law firms:

    • 🏢 Kirkland & Ellis advised Asda on the overall structure of the deal, as well as on the financial and regulatory aspects.

    • 🏢 Addleshaw Goddard advised Asda on the real estate aspects of the deal.

    • 🏢 Skadden advised EG Group on the overall structure of the deal, as well as on the competition aspects.

    • 🏢 Latham & Watkins advised the Issa brothers and TDR Capital on the financing for the acquisition.

  • 🛬 Shares in IAG (the company that owns British Airways) went down by 0.7% because the airline had to cancel a bunch of flights. This came right before a long weekend due to some technical issues with its computer systems. It was a really bad time for this to happen because this Friday just gone was the busiest day for air travel in the UK since 2019.

  • 💸 ASOS (the online fashion store) has raised £75m by selling new shares to cover the £87.4m loss reported for the six months leading up to February. The fashion company also borrowed £275m from Bantry Bay Capital, a specialist lender. Slaughter and May advised ASOS on this.


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  • 👴 Damn: Do you feel like time is catching up with you? This website puts your age into a depressingly honest perspective showing you all the stuff that’s happened since you were born.

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