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Last year was another busy one in terms of trademark strategy news, and the world’s largest and fastest-developing regional market was often at the centre of it all. World Trademark Review presents a retrospective on some of the key trademark and brand management developments in Asia-Pacific jurisdictions during 2016.
Foxconn’s $3.5 billion acquisition of a majority stake in Sharp, which was completed last month, marked what is presumably the largest foreign takeover of a Japanese company yet. And with the Taiwanese outfit’s installation of one of its own team as CEO, Sharp’s brand strategy appears to be heading in a new direction.
At the start of this month, the Australian government began to implement a new set of standards for ‘country of origin’ labelling for food products sold in the country. Brand owners should take the time to familiarise themselves with the new system, as it could have an impact on their trademark filing and management strategies.
The Group’s 2012 Social Media Index sheds new light on the shifting social media strategies of FTSE 100 companies. The index suggests that publicly-traded companies are increasingly realising the potential of using social media tools to manage their corporate reputations but an effective strategy requires a hands-on approach.
The US craft beer craze has seen its fair share of trademark disputes. One recent incident - as reported on Denver’s Westword news site stood out because of the amicable agreement reached between Verboten Brewing and Weyerbacher Brewing, which owns the federal trademark to the Verboten name for beer. While sensible settlements are something to be welcomed, might the particulars of such an arrangement lead to difficulties for the parties further down the line?
Taiwanese personal computer manufacturer Acer stated yesterday that it would book a NT$3.5 billion (US$120.6 million) impairment charge relating to trademark rights, including marks it acquired from its takeovers of Gateway, Packard Bell and E-TEN. The world’s fourth-largest PC vendor has seen a negative impact on its stock price as a result. But from a wider perspective, is it really such a big deal that the book value of the acquired trademark rights has depreciated?
There is more to the new coffee shop chain Harris + Hoole (H+H) than meets the eye. At first glance it appears to be an independent concern. In reality, H+H is part-owned by Tesco. While the creation of a seemingly ‘independent’ brand could pay dividends for the world’s third-largest retailer, it can also put brand equity at risk.
Last week it was reported that Chinese personal computer manufacturer Lenovo is planning to reorganise its product offering into two distinct brands with one aimed at home users shopping at the more affordable end of the spectrum and a separate identity for high-end business consumers. The goal is to gain a larger global market share. For brand owners, a number of lessons can be learned from such two-pronged marketing strategies.
Capital One’s rebranding of ING Direct (USA), which it acquired last year, has been met with criticism from some existing ING customers. The challenge that Capital One now faces is one that other companies may encounter when acquiring part of the business of another well-known brand. It also indicates the difficulty of acquiring goodwill and the value that consumers attach to trademarks.
Last week, Sky News reported that a portfolio of trademarks and other IP rights relating to the term ‘man of the match’ had been sold at auction for an undisclosed fee to an anonymous bidder. While the sale of the rights to a slogan familiar to sports fans around the world has attracted a modicum of mainstream press interest, it also resurrects a key question for trademark owners and practitioners: will trademark auctions be the next big thing or are they just a flash in the pan?
A recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph shone a light onto the seemingly recession-proof performance of fixed-price budget chains, including Poundland. One way in which it pulls in the punters is by marketing so-called ‘phantom brands’ to create a more appealing shopping experience. Other retailers have also deployed phantom brands to increase market share setting alarm bells ringing for name-brand owners already facing massive competition from supermarkets.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group’s latest report on phishing trends during the first quarter of 2012 has found that, while brand owners have become increasingly vigilant in their defence against the problem, the perpetrators have likewise grown more sophisticated. WTR considers what brand owners can do to combat this ever more complex problem.
A cease-and-desist letter from the trademark team at Jack Daniel’s has caused quite a stir after it was publicised online yesterday. But for once it was not another frenzy over so-called ‘trademark bullying’ that had attracted the attention of media outlets. Instead, the Tennessee whiskey brand’s amicable approach to enforcement has drawn plaudits from online commentators. Jack Daniel’s chief trademark counsel has told WTR why the team decided to adopt this strategy.
In a press statement released last week, Anti Copying In Design (ACID) gave details of a dispute between UK independent designer Rachael Taylor and retail chain Marks & Spencer, which had allegedly copied Taylor’s designs on some of its own fashion lines. After cease-and-desist letters failed to produce results, Taylor took to social media to express her allegations and Marks & Spencer immediately pulled the products in question. Is social media becoming seen as a more powerful and cost-effective enforcement tool for SMEs than the law?
WTR has previously reported on the decision of the Indian government to raise the limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail to 100%, under which any foreign brand looking to take advantage of the new rules must source at least 30% of goods from local SMEs. Six months on, issues have been raised by trademark owners - not least the difficulties of quality control and monitoring mark usage by local partner companies.
A video purporting to show an event organised by Shell in celebration of the expansion of its Arctic drilling operations surfaced online recently. Though it may appear genuine, the video is in fact the handiwork of a group of anti-consumerism activists. The spoof or parody of corporate communications for political or satirical effect is known as ‘culture jamming’ or ‘subvertising’. As a company which has encountered this activity in the past, Chevron is well placed to offer advice on how to respond to the threat.
It has come to light that Coca-Cola in South Africa has sent a cease-and-desist letter to SodaStream, claiming that the latter had infringed its trademarks and was engaging in unfair competition. The action related to SodaStream’s use of discarded Coca-Cola containers in an outdoor marketing campaign intending to make a point about how environmentally friendly its own products are. The matter raises some interesting questions about exhaustion of rights, as well as best course of action when an offensive approach could have an adverse effect on brand perception.
Earlier this month a $22 million counterfeiting ring was smashed by French police and Hermès, the luxury brand whose products were being faked by the gang. According to reports, two Hermès employees were dismissed in connection with the investigation, with a number of other current employees also suspected of involvement. Such ‘insider counterfeiting’ is a problem for many brands but there are some positive learnings to be taken from Hermès’ response.
A number of Australian supermarket chains have sought to expand their offerings of cheaper private label or ‘own-brand’ products in response to increased demand due to the recession. While a familiar challenge to many international brand owners, Australian retailers have been warned by one industry heavyweight that there is a limit to how far they can go.
As the new gTLD application window closes tonight, ICANN has confirmed when applied-for gTLDs will be announced. The new reveal date will be June 13. While observers will be pleased to know that they will finally be getting to hear who has applied for what, applicants and other stakeholders still face uncertainty over the timescale of the rest of the process.
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