Adam Houldsworth

In this week’s second round-up of news, developments and insights from across the trademark sphere, we look at US President Donald Trump’s two nominations for the US International Trade Commission, a writer’s experience as the face of a well-known ‘knock-off' brand and a title that Louis Vuitton will not welcome. Coverage this time from Trevor Little (TL), Tim Lince (TJL), Adam Houldsworth (AH) and Timothy Au (TA).

Legal Radar:

Louis Vuitton is Korea’s top counterfeit brand – While not a title it will welcome, Louis Vuitton has been revealed as the most counterfeited brand in Korea over the last five years: the total amount of seized fake Louis Vuitton products was valued at $183.3 million. Business Korea reports that the country’s Customs Service found 1,603 cases of goods in total that violated IP rights, with watches and bags being the main targets. The vast majority of the counterfeit items (90%) had originated from China. The good news is that new technology may soon make it easier to identify fake luxury bags. (TA)

Trump unveils ITC nominations – President Trump his revealed two nominations for the US International Trade Commission: Virginia’s Randolph J Stayin (for the remainder of a nine-year term ending June 16 2026) and Michigan’s Dennis M Devaney, whose term will expire on June 16 2023. The former’s experience lies in international trade policy and trade regulation, while the latter has a significant track record in labour and employment cases. The ITC has been working with four out of six commissioners, since the two departures earlier this year. The new appointments come as the body faces a record high caseload of Section 337 disputes. (AH)

UKIPO call for ideas – The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is seeking comment from interested parties on whether “there are new products or services the IPO could offer which would encourage more collaboration, more creation and exploitation of IP”. The request for ideas is one of a number of initiatives related to IP announced with the UK government's 'Building Our Industrial Strategy' green paper. Ideas should include evidence – which could take the form of narratives of experiences, case studied, publishes studies or empirical data – and responses should be sent by email (industrialstrategy@ipo.gov.uk). Off the top of our head, there are a couple of opportunities the office could pursue from our IP Office Innovation Index from earlier in the year. While it places the UKIPO as one of the top five most innovative IP offices in the world, there were some metrics that it fell down on, mostly related to third-party API access to digital trademark records. Allowing software companies to access this data would, on the face of it, meet the criteria of encouraging “more collaboration, more creation and exploitation of IP”, so perhaps it’s one the UKIPO should consider. (TJL)

On the move:

Crowell & Moring boosts San Francisco unit with top trial lawyers – Crowell & Moring has announced the addition of trial attorneys Arthur Beeman and Joel Muchmore to its San Francisco office, strengthening its national litigation and IP capabilities. Both lawyers come from Arent Fox and specialise in IP, trade secret and commercial litigation matters in Northern California and across the United States. Beeman and Muchmore also have strong licensing practices. (TA)

AJ Park purchase announced – New Zealand’s IP firm AJ Park has announced it will be joining the IPH Limited group of companies from November 1 2017. Founded over 125 years ago, AJ Park has offices in Auckland, Wellington and Sydney, while IPH is an ASX listed holding company for a number of intellectual property companies offering services throughout the Asia-Pacific region. AJ Park managing partner, Damian Broadley, explains: “We will continue to operate under the same name, with the same high quality people, but will gain access to investment, technologies and networks that will enhance the way we deliver services to our clients.” (TL)

Domain name radar:

Eight new gTLDs approved for use in China – China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has, for the first time since April, licensed the use of several new gTLDs; four by Radix and four by MMX. As reported on Domain Incite, Radix has been granted the right to use ‘.fun’ ‘.online’ ‘.store’ and ‘.tech’, while MMX has had ‘.work’, ‘.law’, ,.beer, and ,.购物, approved. As such, the small number of Latin script gTLDs given permission to operate in the country has been expanded. This could have particular significance for MMX, whose only previous China-approved ‘gTLD’, ‘.VIP’, is among its biggest commercial successes. (AH)

‘.law’ to the rescue?World Trademark Review recently reported on a fake law firm, using a copycat website, had been used to lodge takedown requests on Amazon. Elsewhere, international law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs is seeking to reclaim the ‘squirepattonboggs.net’ domain from a Chinese law firm called Squire Patton Boggs. Against this backdrop comes a new white paper warning that fake lawyer websites are on the rise. The paper chronicles a series of fake website examples, noting that “website scams, which impact a variety of legal practice areas, employ tactics that may include identity theft and brand hijacking of legitimate lawyers and firms”. The solution, claim the authors, is for firms to turn to regulated, restricted TLD spaces. Luckily the authors work for strategic communications agency Allegravita, which handles comms for MMX, the parent company of the regulated, restricted ‘.law’ and ‘abogado’ TLDS. Therefore they know just the TLDs that should become the location of choice for legitimate law firm registrants... (TL)

Media watch:

Adventures of a ‘knock-off brand’ – Freelance writer Oobah Butler penned a feature for Vice this week about becoming the face of a well-known ‘knock-off brand’, Georgio Peviani. Butler writes that this fashion brand’s namesake, which many would assume is benefitting from brand association with Giorgio Armani except the logos are significantly different, doesn’t appear to exist: “He has a brand in his own right and is doing everything a designer should do. Apart from existing,” Butler notes. “There's a void where he should be. I'm going to fill that void: become Georgio Peviani and help him fulfil his potential.” And fulfil he does; Butler purchases the domain ‘georgiopeviani.com’, creates Georgio Peviani-branded business cards and ends up wining-and-dining with fashion elites at Paris Fashion Week. The story concludes with Butler tracking down the applicant of the GEORGIO PEVIANI trademark filed in 1996 – and, well, we won’t spoil the ending. For brand owners, the feature is an interesting look at the face behind a ‘knock-off’ brand and a reminder that, in some cases, it’s not done with ill-intent. (TJL)

Ninten-do or don’t – A new Kickstarter campaign for a portable video game emulation device reached its $5,000 target this week. So while this is usually cause for celebration, backers seemed to notice two key issues that could threaten the campaign: its name, ‘Game Boy Zero’, and imagery related to the video game Super Mario Bros. One person, who had backed the campaign, commented: “I'm sorry, guys. But the reality is that if ANYONE had complained to [Kickstarter], this campaign would have been cancelled immediately. Or worse, if the campaign went on, and Nintendo caught wind, they could have forced Eugene to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages for EACH UNIT SOLD. At which point, we all lose and I've seen it happen before for FAR lesser ‘offenses’.” Campaign creator Eugene Andruszczenko responded that he has “edited” the page accordingly, with a separate update saying the product design has been modified “to not conflict with any 'well known' characters” – although the Game Boy Zero name appears to have stuck. The reaction to the campaign, with those pointing out possible trademark infringement, is another reminder of the increasing awareness of IP infringement in the general public – and also the risks of brand association on crowdfunding sites, with creators eager to find ways to encourage donations. (TJL)

And finally…

Get the inside track on brand strategy for the Chinese market Brand Strategy China 2017, a high-level knowledge-sharing event for professionals tasked with protecting the integrity and maximising the value of their brands in the region, will be taking place in Shanghai on December 7. Hosted by World Trademark Review, the event will provide a highly focused one-day programme delivering practical, actionable takeaways for professionals tasked with protecting the integrity and maximising the value of their brands in the region. The full programme is available here, and readers of this blog who book before October 12 using the code WTRBLOG can save $200 off the standard delegate rate. Click here now to reserve your place at the discounted rate. (TL)

Big changes are on the way for World Trademark Review: From November we will be providing subscribers with even more detailed analysis and insight, as well as an exclusive first look at the WTR 1000 2018 rankings. While news content will remain free to view, non-subscribers will lose access to some content and will not have automatic access to the new content that we will be offering. Further details are available here.

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