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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.
The Russian government has issued the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation 1151, amending official fees related to patents, trademarks and other objects of industrial property. The changes will help the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property and trademark applicants to simplify the application process and greatly reduce the amount of paperwork, as well as hopefully resulting in a decrease in the number of trademarks that are registered for too broad a list of goods and services.
The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has issued the final version of the Rules on the Administration of Internet Domain Names, which came into effect on November 1 2017. The most notable change in the new rules is the deletion of the controversial Article 37 of the draft, which provided that any domain name with a website hosted in China must be registered with a Chinese domain name registrar.
In two recent decisions the Turkish Court of Appeal has upheld that a distributor acted in bad faith by trying to obtain the trademark of a genuine rights holder, and that if an applicant is aware of the trademark of the genuine owner, it must also be deemed to have acted in bad faith. After the IP Code entered into force in January 2017, the principle regarding bad faith is now one of the relative grounds for refusal.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has issued a precedential decision clarifying the circumstances in which it will disqualify itself from cancellation proceedings. It appears unlikely that the board will be inclined to disqualify itself from a proceeding where a government official has an interest, regardless of whether that interest is official or personal, absent clear evidence of an attempt to assert improper influence.
The EU Intellectual Property Office has published the results of the second phase of its research into online business models which infringe IP rights in the European Union, concentrating in particular on suspected trademark infringing e-shops that utilise previously used domain names. This once again highlights the need for swift and effective instruments to combat the online trade in counterfeit goods.
The Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) published the Proof of Use Guidelines in April 2017 after the non-use defence was enacted by the new Industrial Property Code 6769. The PTO recently issued an updated version of the guidelines in order to clarify the use and functions of this new procedure.
Indonesia has officially become the 100th member of the Madrid Union. Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna H Laoly deposited the country’s instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol with the director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation during the 57th General Assembly in Geneva.
The Canada Border Services Agency recently issued a customs notice to advise the public and rights holders that its 24/7 Border Watch hotline now accepts information, or tips, on ‘dangerous’ counterfeit goods or pirated copies destined for Canada.
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