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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.
It was 10 years ago last month that Apple updated its iTunes software to support podcasts natively. Today, up to 75 million people a month listen to podcasts on iTunes, with the advertising revenue generated by the medium also on the rise. However, despite swift growth, the sector appears to be lagging behind in terms of brand protection and registered trademark rights.
China’s customs agency has released a report into its IP enforcement efforts during 2014. The data reveals that the number of detained shipments is growing significantly year-on-year, and underlines the importance of engaging with customs authorities in the world’s biggest exporter. We have studied the figures and created an infographic that presents the key findings.
When a trademark owner is perceived to act in a heavy-handed way, any resulting backlash is reported with relish by the mainstream media. However, the reverse rarely gets the coverage it deserves. This week, US production company Funimation directly engaged with the fan art community in a bid to explain how and why it has to police its marks. Its message was broadly welcomed by its target audience, many of whom have become allies in spreading the message.
Domain parking startup Protected Parking is offering a monetisation service that promises brand owners “a low risk, pragmatic solution” for the recovery of lost traffic from potentially infringing domain names. The service has already signed up hundreds of high-profile clients, with the company’s marketing director denying that it encourages typosquatting by offering a monetary incentive to registrants.
The Eurovision Song Contest, launched in 1956, has become one of most recognisable event brands in the world. With this enduring popularity comes a whole host of IP challenges that the event’s producer, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), has to contend with. However, unlike the very strict enforcement approach taken by organisers of major sporting events, the EBU’s IP department tells World Trademark Review that it sometimes “deliberately tolerates infringements”.
‘.brand’ use has long been cited as potentially giving new gTLDs a positive profile boost amongst consumers, with Barclays recently generating headlines over the announcement that it plans to migrate its online presence to the ‘.barclays’ TLD. However, two other ‘.brand’ applicants have adopted a more cautious stance, with a Richemont representative describing the current ‘.brand’ landscape as ‘a desert’ and Volkswagen’s IP counsel noting that the company is in no rush to start using its new gTLDs.
When we last reported on the European trademark reform, ‘provisional agreement’ on the package had been reached by the ‘trilogue’ of the European Parliament, Council and Commission. This week, the rapporteur of the reform package, Cecilia Wikström, has revealed what went on behind closed doors and acknowledged that the reforms, expected to be formally passed later this year, are not as ambitious as she had hoped.
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 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.
American animal rights organisation PETA is well known for running campaigns that use popular third-party brand names to promote its message to a wider audience. A PETA representative tells WTR that the organisation draws on the expertise of legal counsel to use intellectual property to its advantage - and advises other not-for-profits to do the same.
An analyst report into online marketplace Etsy has issued a stark warning about the large proportion of potentially infringing items being sold on the site, causing the company’s stock to plummet. While sending a clear signal to trademark counsel that they need to ensure the platform is in their policing plans, the positive takeaway is the hesitancy investors exhibit when faced with sites that sell allegedly infringing items.
The in-house counsel who heads up YouTube's trademark and anti-counterfeiting policies has told WTR that finding the correct balance between alleviating brand owner concerns and protecting the free speech of its users is a challenge, although she notes that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
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.
After a record-breaking double sunrise period for its ‘.adult’ and ‘.porn’ gTLD strings, ICM Registry has announced it is expanding its programme for trademark owners by allowing sunrise B applicants access to its domain matching programme. The move comes at a time when, according to ICM Registry’s legal counsel, trademark counsel are clearly suffering from “domain fatigue”.
One of the biggest challenges for WIPO as it looks to increase the reach of the Madrid Protocol around the globe is the initial negative reaction from law firms that fear a loss in trademark filing work. Yet one newly contracted country, Cambodia, has had a different experience - and the director of its national IP office claims that it is down to taking a brutally honest approach to the impact of the new regime.
While 10,000 trademark practitioners have descended on San Diego for INTA’s annual meeting, this year’s WTR Global Trademark Benchmarking Survey found that a third of trademark counsel are unsure whether IP associations are doing a good job of keeping them up-to-date on legal developments.
In this year’s WTR Global Trademark Benchmarking Survey, one of the biggest trends observed was the sharp increase in online enforcement activities undertaken by corporate counsel. We take a look at this, and some of the other findings, in the infographic below.
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