Global View

Africa

The African Intellectual Property Organisation’s (OAPI) High Commission of Appeal has annulled a 2016 decision which suspended two IP attorneys due to their suspected involvement with a group protesting its accession to the Madrid Protocol. In 2014 a rift developed between OAPI and a group of IP practitioners, who claimed that the organisation’s accession was carried out illegally. A number of accredited OAPI agents formed the Collective of Industrial Property Counsel with the stated goal of reversing the decision. OAPI subsequently confirmed that it would not allow members and law firms associated with the collective to represent clients at OAPI for any IP-related actions, suspending a number of agents. However, this action has now been reversed.

Canada

Draft regulations published by Health Canada propose that legal cannabis will be sold in plain packaging with a yellow warning message and red stop sign, with the silhouette of a marijuana leaf. The proposals follow a public consultation, which received more than 3,200 online submissions and 450 written responses, as well as input from health and law enforcement experts, governments and marijuana industry representatives.

China

China has launched its first state-backed luxury goods appraisal centre – the China Electronic Commerce Association – to protect consumers against inadvertently purchasing expensive counterfeit goods by allowing them to differentiate more easily between fake and authentic products. It also aims to help buyers identify authentic retailers more reliably, providing a certification service for vendors seeking accreditation as outlets of genuine goods.

India

The Confederation of All India Traders has stepped up pressure on the Indian government to pass the Consumer Protection Bill, which contains provisions designed to hold brand ambassadors liable for misleading endorsements. The bill would establish a new Central Consumer Protection Authority with the power to impose a penalty of up to Rs1 million on a manufacturer or endorser for a false or misleading advertisement – the fine could rise to Rs5 million for subsequent offences. Misleading endorsers could also be prohibited from endorsing that particular product or service for up to one year.

International

The Know Your Customer initiative, which is aimed at tackling the problem of counterfeit goods being transported by international shipping companies, has been launched by the International Chamber of Commerce at a shipping industry conference in California. The scheme promotes a voluntary framework of best practices agreed on by maritime companies and brands, and emphasises steps – including the verification of customers’ legal existence and checks of relevant databases and registrations – that shipping operators should take to ensure that they deal with legitimate customers only.

International

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case filings at the World Intellectual Property Organisation continued their upward momentum in 2017, with a total of 3,074 cases handled by its Arbitration and Mediation Centre. Cybersquatting disputes relating to new generic top-level domains accounted for just over 12% of the 2017 caseload (6,370 domain names). By contrast, ‘.com’ filings jumped by 27% year on year – with the string accounting for 70.23% of disputed domain names. In total, the number of UDRP filings represents an historical high.

New Zealand

Companies in New Zealand can no longer sell cigarettes in branded packaging – instead, they are now required to package them in generic olive-brown cases with large graphic health warnings. Retailers have until June 6 to sell current branded stock; after this date, only plain-packaged cigarettes can be sold.

Uganda

The Uganda Registration Services Bureau, which registers business names and intellectual property, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Bureau of Standards, which enforces the country’s standards with regard to the protection of the environment and public health and safety. The memorandum will see the two agencies share databases and other information in a bid to combat counterfeit products in the market.

United States

The US Senate has confirmed Kevin McAleenan as head of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Prior to his confirmation, McAleenan had served as the acting commissioner since January 20 2017. He previously held several leadership positions at CBP and one of its legacy agencies, the US Customs Service.

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