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A new anti-sanction bill aimed at the prevention and suppression of unlawful and hostile foreign actions against political and economic stability in Russia, signed by the president on 4 June 2018, is now in force. Importantly, the bill does not concern the IP assets of foreign legal entities, and the fears of compulsory licensing and limited trademark protection have so far been left overboard.
New IP officials - including a new director of trademarks and patents - have been appointed through a resolution published in the Official Gazette on 12 July 2018. These new appointments come in a climate of great uncertainty, mainly due to the suspension of the payment of official fees by foreign IP owners following a decision issued in February this year.
The General Administration for Market Regulation has issued a set of draft regulations on the registration of company names for public consultation. The draft regulations include several noteworthy features: for the first time, the principles of good faith and honesty in the use of company names are expressly provided for, and the rights in a company name are recognised as from the date of its registration.
As part of the adaptation to the new presidential government system, most of the provisions of Law No 5,000 on the Establishment and Functions of the Patent and Trademark Office were revoked, which created some ambiguity as to the legal basis for the office’s existence. However, Presidential Decree No 4 has now re-established the Patent and Trademark Office.
The UK government’s White Paper detailing its proposal for the future UK-EU relationship includes a limited number of proposals relating to intellectual property. Among other things, the United Kingdom will establish its own GI scheme consistent with and going beyond the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. Significantly, the paper supports the Unified Patent Court and seeks to keep it on track post-Brexit.
The Second Civil Court of Santiago has dismissed a complaint filed by Evercrisp (a subsidiary of Pepsico) against a Health Authority resolution prohibiting it from using a cheetah logo on the packaging of its Cheetos product on the ground that it violated the food labelling regulation - despite the fact that the logo was duly registered. The court held that the regulation does not imply an expropriation, but only a limitation of trademark rights.
The new Law on Competition, which was passed by the National Assembly on 12 June 2018, will enter into force on 1 July 2019. In light of the changes introduced by the new law, the alternative procedure for challenging certain IP-related unfair competition acts before the National Competition Authority may no longer be available to brand owners.
In a move that brings South Africa a step closer to plain packaging for tobacco products, the Department of Health has invited public comment on the Draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill 2018 by August 9 2018. Among other things, the proposed legislation aims “to regulate the packaging and appearance of tobacco products and to make provision for the standardisation of their packaging”.
Qatar is currently seeking to reinforce its IP protection regime by providing a stronger legal basis for the protection of customer rights, in addition to improving and organising administrative filing systems. This update examines recent trademark-related developments in the country which reflect the approach taken by the government to achieve these goals.
Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona has given his opinion in VAR Srl v Iveco Orecchia SpA. Even though the case concerned the interpretation of Directive 2004/17 on public procurement, the entire case rests on a trademark issue. Should the ECJ follow this opinion, it will confirm that a mark cannot be used as a barrier to competition.
In DOCERAM GmbH v CeramTec GmbH the ECJ has issued a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 8(1) of Regulation 6/2002. It found that the existence of alternative designs fulfilling the same technical function as that of the product concerned was not the only criterion for determining the application of that article, and considered that the appearance of a product was the decisive factor.
Following the entry into force of a new regulation on January 10 2018, it is now mandatory to use an emblem on products protected by GIs and on traditional products, along with the name of the GI or traditional product. Such obligation is expected to raise awareness of GIs and traditional products among consumers, as well as manufacturers.
In August 2017 the China State Council published the Circular on Several Measures to Boost the Growth of Foreign Investment. The circular announced measures to ensure the growth and raise the quality of foreign investment by creating an environment that is more law-based, internationalised and convenient for foreign investors.
Major amendments to the Bulgarian Civil Procedure Code have entered into force, widening the traditionally narrow scope of cassation grounds. The amendments also stipulate that enforcement officials can now seize or sell judgment debtors’ IP rights in order to enforce the rights of judgment creditors. The Bulgarian civil courts will henceforth likely adhere more closely to European Court of Justice case law in IP cases.
The Korean National Assembly has approved an amendment to the Court Organisation Act which stipulates that the district courts in the five statutory venues for IP rights disputes and the patent court may permit parties to use a foreign language in court proceedings, provided that the parties agree. It is also expected to accelerate the creation of international panels and foster a better environment for foreign companies to enforce or defend IP rights in South Korea.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has made significant amendments to the ‘.za’ Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations, including a mandatory informal mediation service to be run by the ‘.za’ domain name authority. Many of the amendments are generally welcomed, although there is some uncertainty as to how they will work in practice.
The Unfair Competition Law has been amended for the first time since its introduction in 1993, resulting in some important changes to IP law which will come into effect on January 1 2018. The amended law includes the introduction of an effective system for changing an infringing trade name in order to prevent an infringer refusing to change its name.
The process of establishing a new court in the Ukrainian judicial system, the High Intellectual Property Court, was recently launched by Decree 299/2017. The court will have jurisdiction over IP-related disputes and will act as a court of first instance and a court of appeal. The establishment of a specialised IP court is one of the most important changes brought about by the judicial reform and is expected to make the Ukrainian IP system more efficient and IP-related litigation more consistent.
The new Turkish Industrial Property Law entered into force in January 2017. It introduced guidelines for providing proof of use in oppositions, providing that where an opposition is based on similarity claims and where a trademark has allegedly been registered for more than five years, an applicant can demand that an opponent provide proof of use of the trademark or give good reason for non-use.
Saudi Arabia has issued a judicial announcement in which it stated that powers of attorney provided to legal advisers and IP representatives will be considered valid for five years only from the date of issuance. This will be the case for all powers of attorney, unless there is an earlier end date mentioned in the power of attorney or it is revoked in the interim. Rights holders with an interest in Saudi Arabia should take steps to review any existing powers of attorney held by Saudi representatives.
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