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The senior director of the Madrid Registry has revealed to World Trademark Review that he is hopeful the stipulation in the newly leaked IP chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for countries to join the Madrid Protocol will kick-start the organisation’s future push into Latin America.
The difficulty that brands in the adult sector have in obtaining and enforcing trademark protection is one of the unspoken issues of the trademark world, with one leading IP attorney telling World Trademark Review about some of the challenges he has faced representing clients in this space. He also called on other stakeholders, including law firms, to up their efforts to protect brands in this sector.
In one of the earliest civil court tests of China’s GI protection regime, the Scotch Whisky Association recently announced its victory against an Anhui-based manufacturer of bottle caps bearing the words ‘Scotch Whisky’. For the company’s legal counsel, the decision was a vindication of the organisation’s evolving enforcement strategy.
The USPTO has launched a pilot programme to allow amendments to identifications of goods and services in trademark registrations due to technological evolution. While characterised by one practitioner as a much needed development, the changes are not expected to have widespread impact for mark owners.
A growing number of large casino companies are threatening small video game developers with legal action over alleged trademark infringement, a New York lawyer has told World Trademark Review. Ryan Morrison, who runs a firm that specialises in representing independent games companies, claims this has been caused by a trademark classification system that is not keeping pace with the development of new technology.
People who sell fake goods online are no doubt aware that there is always a chance the interested shopper they are communicating with might be a law enforcement agent; but in Hong Kong, those potential customers might not even be humans at all. The Customs and Excise Department of the Special Administrative Region this week unveiled SocNet, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to flag up suspicious vendors on social media sites - an anti-counterfeiting RoboCop of sorts.
The challenge of protecting fictional brand names has previously been discussed in WTR. An oft-used case study is the fictional Duff Beer, which features in TV show The Simpsons. The show’s owner, 21st Century Fox, has faced numerous companies launching Duff Beer in the real world and this week announced it was entering the beer market in Chile, partly as a bid to fight off third-party use of the brand. The company also announced that it plans to rollout Duff Beer in Europe, but a number of challenges lie ahead.
Although many trademark teams continue to face budgetary pressures, a UK lawyer claims cost-effective mediation services offered by offices such as the UK IPO and OHIM are “underutilised”. For its part, OHIM admits to WTR that uptake of its mediation offering is “small” but “growing”. However, changes proposed in the European trademark legislative package could remove one of the main barriers to use of its current offering and lead to an upswing in the use of mediation.
The trend of IP legislative reform in the Caribbean is set to continue after a new trademarks law was recently assented by the Trinidad and Tobago’s government. The development follows recent moves to update trademark legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, and one commentator notes that the changes should result in more international brands seeking protection in the jurisdiction.
WIPO has expanded on plans to increase access to online trademark tools and databases across Africa, with one project aiming to digitise up to 100 years’ worth of trademark applications and create a single, searchable online database.
The UK Intellectual Property Office has revealed that trademark applications have risen by 44% over the past five years. Its latest figures also reveal that it received 54,498 trademark applications in 2014 up 9% on 2013 (50,265) and up almost a quarter when compared to 2012 (43,873). Registrations for the year also jumped to 45,123 up 15% on 2013 (42,548) and 23% on 2012 (43,873).
The availability of online tools that make trademark filings accessible to all are, in most respects, a positive development. However, the flipside is that such offerings can result in applicants investing in the process without fully understanding trademark law or first seeking specialist help. This appears to be the case with the self-proclaimed 'Trademark King', who has spent up to $50,000 in trademark filings that one commentator has labelled “void from the outset”.
The controversy over the African Intellectual Property Organisation’s recent accession to the Madrid Protocol continues to develop, with the group of agents who claim accession is illegal calling on INTA for support. However, the association has told World Trademark Review that it is not in a position to become involved in the legality of a country’s or intergovernmental organisation’s accession to the Madrid Protocol.
The government of the Cayman Islands is drawing up a new Trademarks Bill that will introduce a local register and offer an increased ability to enforce marks. One lawyer in the region has told World Trademark Review that the new bill will finally bring the country’s IP system into the 21st century, and could halt the trend of international businesses ignoring the Caymans in their brand protection efforts.
The continuing tension between the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) and accredited agents in the region who oppose its recent accession to the Madrid Protocol shows no sign of abating.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is to consider whether the federal government’s treatment of ‘disparaging’ marks violates the First Amendment. The move, issued as the court vacated last week’s decision on the rejection of a trademark application by Asian American band The Slants, has been labelled a “shock” by the band’s attorney.
We talk with key figures from both sides of the dispute, including an IP adviser who claims that he was dismissed from his law firm after alleged pressure from OAPI.
US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations have released their fiscal year 2014 intellectual property rights and seizure statistics, revealing a 5% drop in seizures. However, the figures shouldn’t be read as an indicator that the scourge of counterfeit goods is abating.
With the legalisation of marijuana gaining momentum across the United States, a new multi-billion dollar industry is growing at a startling rate. Nonetheless, there are strict restrictions on the registration of trademarks for marijuana products at national level, meaning that companies in this sector are struggling to protect their brands.
The UK government’s surprise announcement of plans to vote on plain packaging before the May general election could mean that the law comes into force across England and Wales by 2016.
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