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This week the Wall Street Journal reported that luxury brands are demanding a firmer commitment from Amazon to police counterfeits on the platform, with talks between the e-commerce giant and Swatch breaking down over Amazon's unwillingness to do more. While the call for increased brand protection mechanisms is persistent, for some luxury brands the decision not to utilise the platform is a wider strategic one, rather than specifically tied to anti-counterfeiting programmes.
Amazon calls for end to ‘.amazon’ gTLD stand-off; demands prompt action to end dispute with governments
Amazon has called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to “immediately approve” its application for the ‘.amazon’ generic top-level domain, noting that prompt action is necessary because “there is no sovereign right under international or national law to the name ‘Amazon”’, with an Independent Review Process Panel having previously ruled that ICANN acted in a manner inconsistent with its bylaws when rejecting the company’s application. The move to end the stand-off over the string is one that all brands should monitor.
UKIPO study claims social networks “encourage IP infringement”; complicit consumers actively seek out fakes
Research commissioned by the UK IP Office has reinforced claims made by government enforcement agencies that social media platforms “encourage IP infringement”, while also amplifying counterfeiters’ messages by increasing the connectivity of potential complicit consumers. However, the office noted that the study is based only on a 2015 snapshot and further investigation is needed to uncover the true scale and nature of infringement.
The WTR Premium Daily email will be taking a summer break over August, with the full intelligence and daily email service for subscribers recommencing on Monday September 4. As we head into our break, here’s a look at the most popular articles and legal updates we have published over the past 12 months with coverage of a call for an improved YouTube takedown process just beating the news that Google has become the world’s most valuable brand to top place.
A press release issued today has announced that Kering and Alibaba Group have signed a “landmark agreement” to cooperate in the protection of intellectual property and engage in joint enforcement activities. The shock move, by an organisation that has been highly critical of the e-commerce giant, brings to an end Kering’s headline-grabbing lawsuit against the Chinese company.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge have published a report advising domain name registrants that, in a bid to “minimise exposure to trademark bullying”, they should avoid registering domains in the new gTLD environment. While counsel may object to the ‘bullying’ label being extended to legitimate enforcement efforts, the report could have a positive payback for policing strategies.
As critics label Alibaba’s anti-counterfeit efforts a “drop in the bucket”, details emerge of brand alliance progress
Last week Alibaba announced success in a civil suit against a pet food vendor indicted for selling counterfeit cat food on Taobao. While the company highlights the action as an example of its crackdown on counterfeits, one industry commentator has labelled such actions as “window dressing” and called on the e-commerce giant to do more. Against this backdrop, World Trademark Review has obtained information about ongoing discussions between Alibaba and a group of brands on future enforcement efforts.
Law firm hacks, YouTube takedowns and the rise of the Google brand: our top trademark stories of 2017 so far
As we reach the halfway point of 2017, we reveal the most-read blogs and Premium Updates on World Trademark Review so far this year with online spats, trademark solicitation scams, INTA grand finale overcrowding and cyber-attacks on law firms all featured in the top 20.
At this week’s ICANN meeting in South Africa, the impact and effectiveness of new gTLD rights protection mechanisms has taken centre stage, with one participant voicing concerns that some trademark owners are over-reaching in sunrise applications. The flipside, of course, is that many see the need to implement proactive defensive registrations across a range of strings. Now, a new study from INTA reveals that member registrations in new TLDs have been “overwhelmingly made for defensive purposes”.
Pharmacy chain Boots has become the latest company to signal an intention to terminate a registry agreement, this time for the ‘.boots’ top-level domain (TLD). While a negative development for the new generic TLD programme, it should not be viewed as an indicator that ‘.brands’ are losing their lustre on the contrary, the rollout of branded spaces shows no sign of slowing.
“We are the online leader in anti-counterfeiting”: Alibaba’s Jack Ma talks tough as company seeks to woo US SMEs
This week Alibaba is hosting a two-day conference designed to highlight to a range of US-based small and medium-sized enterprises the lucrative business opportunities available in China (and how the e-commerce giant can help them tap into the market). In an on-stage interview, executive chairman Jack Ma took the opportunity to talk up the company’s anti-counterfeiting activities. By making brand protection a central part of its pitch to new customers, the responsibility to provide a truly trusted environment is increasing.
Fighting the robots: could brand backlash provide an opportunity for counsel battling online infringement?
Research from the Chief Marketing Officer Council has found that almost half of consumers would rethink purchasing from brands that place adverts alongside offensive or objectionable content. While the report did not explore the effect of advertising on IP infringing sites, it does provide an opportunity to engage in discussions around the use of programmatic advertising technologies.
New research from Hogan Lovells has revealed that 94% of in-house counsel have encountered misuse of their company’s trademarks online, with North American brands the hardest hit. Those from the Asia-Pacific region appear least affected by online infringement. However, it appears that this is because they are less likely to look for it, meaning that the true level of infringement is likely even higher.
MarkMonitor severs relationship with ‘.feedback’ TLD, calls for ICANN to review policies enabling “retaliatory conduct”
MarkMonitor has confirmed the termination of all accreditation agreements for the ‘.feedback’ top-level domain, following fallout from a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure complaint filed by the company and a coalition of brands. The director of domain management at MarkMonitor has further called on ICANN to review how policies permit registry operators to engage in retaliatory conduct against those who raise legitimate compliance complaints.
‘.feedback’ fires salvo over PICDRP complaint; threatens to “de-accredit” MarkMonitor as a registrar
Three weeks after being found in breach of its ICANN compliance obligations as a result of a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure (PICDRP) complaint, Jay Westerdal, CEO of ‘.feedback’, has fired back at MarkMonitor, one of the parties to the PICDRP. In a letter obtained by World Trademark Review, he alleges that the PICDRP disclosed confidential information and gives MarkMonitor 30 days to cure that breach or face being de-accredited as a registrar for the string.
‘.feedback’ hit with breach notification after brand complaints; ICANN urged to take stronger stance (updated)
ICANN has informed the operator of the ‘.feedback’ TLD that it is in breach of its registry agreement, the first instance a registry has been found in breach of its ICANN compliance obligations as a result of a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure (PICDRP) complaint. However, while characterising the move as “positive”, one of the parties to the complaint has criticised the scope of the panel’s review and hit out at ICANN for not taking stronger action.
Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case filings at WIPO have busted through the 3,000 barrier for the first time, with Philip Morris, AB Electrolux, Hugo Boss, Lego and Michelin revealed as the top complainants.
A letter, co-signed by 21 law professors and practitioners, has slammed the “expansive protections recently demanded by trademark owners”, which they argue “are inconsistent with basic propositions of trademark law”. In response, leading commentators have hit back at the “misleading and inaccurate” arguments made in the letter.
Third-party advertisers bidding on trademark terms in online search results spiked by 21% across the fourth quarter of 2016, with leading brands estimated to have lost 46 million clicks across the three-month period. For key brands in the clothing and apparel sector this has been translated into approximately $300,000 in lost revenue.
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