Five things you need to know – Europe
The Court Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has decided that Amazon is not legally liable for the storage of counterfeit goods. The long-running case (C-567/18 Coty Germany) was originally brought by cosmetic company Coty in 2014, and the question that the CJEU sought to answer was whether a company which – on behalf of a third-party seller – stores goods that infringe trademark rights (even if unaware of this infringement) is itself using the mark. The judgment conceded that, in order for infringement to take place, the company (in this case, Amazon) “must pursue, like the seller, the aim of offering the goods for sale or putting them on the market”. In the case at hand, “the two Amazon companies concerned have not themselves offered the goods for sale or put them on the market and the third-party seller alone pursued that aim”.
The EUIPO and EURid, the domain name registry for the ‘.eu’, ‘.ею’ and ‘.ευ’ TLDs, are set to intensify collaboration to support trademark and domain name applicants and owners, particularly SMEs. The collaboration will support users of the EU IP system, namely start-ups, by helping them to obtain trademark and domain name protection in a joined-up manner.
Francis Gurry, director general of WIPO, has sought to abate fears over the organisation’s ability to handle the impact of the global covid-19 crisis – noting that the organisation has been increasing its liquid assets by “deliberate policy” to ensure that it is in a position to deal with situations such as the current pandemic. His comments came during the public broadcast release of WIPO’s 2019 results in April. During the address, Gurry explained that WIPO’s overall surplus has reached Sfr97.7 million, with investment gains of Sfr42.1 million, which provides a vital cushion in uncertain economic conditions.
The UK High Court has partially invalidated trademarks owned by telecoms company Sky as part of a lengthy dispute with US software company SkyKick. Sky originally brought a trademark infringement suit against US cloud management software provider SkyKick in the High Court in 2018 – SkyKick counterclaimed that Sky’s marks were invalid due to a lack of clarity in their broad registrations. The High Court decision held that the UK and EU SKY marks should be declared partly invalid on the grounds of bad faith, stating that “Sky made the applications pursuant to a deliberate strategy of seeking very broad protection regardless of whether it was commercially justified”.
On 19 May 2020 the UK government published the outline of a free trade agreement with the European Union, with an entire chapter dedicated to intellectual property. However, the discussion document left the section on geographical indications (GIs) blank – a move that one commentator characterised as a veiled threat to the European Union, as strong GI protection is a key focus for EU negotiators.