Global View

Benelux

Effective as of 1 June 2018, the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property has been amended. The changes mean that it is now possible to file cancellation actions before the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), while the previous grounds for filing an opposition have been expanded. Additionally, as of 1 June 2018, all appeals against BOIP decisions must be filed before a newly installed Second Chamber of the Benelux Court of Justice.

Brazil

The president of the Brazilian IP Agents Association, Ricardo Pinho, has told World Trademark Review that the Brazilian IP Office (INPI) is expected to begin accepting international applications early next year. However, he raised concerns over the quality of examinations in recent months. While the office’s backlog has been “significantly reduced” over the past 12 months due to a slew of examiner hires in mid-2017, Pinho observed: “The timeframes for the Brazilian registry’s decisions on the trademark side are being reduced, but the quality of the decisions is [still] highly questionable.”

China

Alibaba’s 2017 Annual Report has pointed to what it describes as “significant progress” in IP protection in 2017, with data showing significantly faster processing time for takedowns. The company reports that since mid-2017, 95% of takedown requests have been processed within 24 hours (a 68% reduction compared to 2016). Additionally, while the number of registered accounts on Alibaba’s IP protection platform has risen 17% in the last year, the number of notice-and-takedown requests by brand owners declined by 42% year on year.

European Union

In what the EUIPO describes as “the largest European law enforcement operation ever”, over 20,000 packages have been seized and more than 1,000 social media accounts closed in the fight against counterfeit goods. Operation Aphrodite involved joint investigations by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition, the Italian Guardia di Finanza and law enforcement authorities from nine EU member states, with the seized items including sports articles, medicines, mobile phones, bags, jewellery, sunglasses, clothing, watches, perfumes and cosmetics, and illegal set-top boxes.

International

Corsearch has cooperation deals with INCOPRO, an internet IP and brand protection company, and Key-Systems, a major domain name administrator. The former will see Corsearch offer a law firm edition of INCOPRO’s brand protection technology, while the Key-Systems partnership will allow Corsearch to provide firms with an interface through which they can manage clients’ domain name portfolios.

Laos

A new IP law has come into force in Laos, introducing trademark opposition procedures to the country for the first time. The legislation also stipulates the creation of a new digital platform for brand rights and expands the range of images eligible for trademark protection in the country.

Malaysia

In Jyothy Laboratories Limited v Perusahaan Bumi Tulin Sdn Bhd (Originating Summons No WA-24IP-4-03/2017, unreported) the Malaysian High Court has ruled that an authorised distributor cannot hijack and dishonestly misappropriate a trademark belonging to its manufacturer or supplier by registering the trademark in its own name.

South Africa

The Department of Health has invited public comment on the Draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill 2018, until 9 August 2018. The objectives of the proposed legislation are, among others, “to regulate the packaging and appearance of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems and to make provision for the standardisation of their packaging”. The move brings South Africa a step closer to implementing plain packaging for tobacco products.

United States

INTA’s board of directors has approved the creation of a brand value special taskforce, which over the next two years “will engage in focused research designed to provide a set of recommendations and action for INTA to pursue in relation to brand value and materials needed to explain brand value, brand equity and brand valuation to stakeholders, professionals, and consumers”. The taskforce expects to present a draft report to the INTA board of directors in March 2019, followed by a final report in May 2019.

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