Hindles is pleased to welcome Rebecca Douglas to the team as a Trainee Patent Attorney. Rebecca has an MSci and PhD in physics from the University of Glasgow, where she was also a member of the Institute for Gravitational Research and involved in the development and characterisation of materials for advanced, cryogenic future gravitational wave detectors. Additionally, she was a member of the LSC (LIGO Scientific Collaboration) and, as such, had a small part in the first detection of gravitational waves and holds a Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics and Physics World Breakthrough of the Year Prize. Following her PhD she began work on ultra-sensitive MEMS-based gravimeters within QuantIC and spent a year developing designs for increased stability and reliability of these, as well as working on a practical demonstrator for the devices.
Rebecca is passionate about science outreach and communication. She comments: “Training as a patent attorney appealed as I wanted to apply my PhD in a practical setting and was interested in the intersection of technology, commerce and law that I don’t think you find anywhere else besides in an IP career. I’m looking forward to working with entrepreneurs to help them get the most out of their inventions.”
We’re delighted she has joined our fast-growing team and are looking forward to supporting her in training as a UK and European patent attorney.
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Earlier this year we reported that the European Patent Office (EPO) had stayed all examination and opposition proceedings relating to patents and patent applications in which the decision depended on the patentability of a plant or animal obtained by an essentially biological process. This measure was taken following the release of a Notice by the European Commission stating that plants and animals derived from essentially biological processes should not, in its view, be considered patentable.
The Commission’s Notice contradicted the previous practice of the EPO which had been blocking patents directed towards essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals but allowing claims to the plants or animals themselves which were derived from those processes. The EPO’s practice was based on a narrow interpretation of existing EU legislation regarding biotechnology.
The EPO’s Administrative Council has now amended the relevant EPO regulations such that plants and animals obtained exclusively by essentially biological processes will no longer be considered patentable, in line with the EU Commission’s Notice. While the EPO is not an EU body, the EPO has decided to continue to comply with EU law for the sake of harmonisation in patent law across the European continent.
Examination and opposition cases which were previously stayed will now be resumed and the new regulations will be applied. The EPO has stated that the changes will provide more clarity and legal certainty for users of the European patent system. However, the changes have no effect on national law and so it is unclear whether previously granted European patents, which claim plants or animals derived from essentially biological processes, will be upheld or invalidated by the national courts of EPO member states, particularly in those member states which do not belong to the EU and are therefore not subject to EU law.