Global View

Benelux

The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) has confirmed that Ragnar Gustafsson will take over as director general from 1 July 2019. He succeeds current director general Edmond Simon, who will retire on that date. Gustafsson has served at BOIP as deputy director of general affairs since May 2014.

Brazil

Statistics released by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) relating to its activities during 2018 indicate that there has been a significant reduction in the backlog of trademark applications (46.6%). This fall is the result not only of the arrival of 50 new trademark examiners, who were hired in 2017, but also of a series of internal measures taken by the INPI. The 2018 statistics also indicate that between January and October 2018, 171,970 trademark applications were filed in Brazil – an increase of 11.3% compared to the same period in 2017.

Canada

The Canadian government has released its 2018 IP report, in which it analyses data from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and WIPO. Trademark filings showed the strongest growth out of all IP activity, increasing by 8% in 2017. The rise in application volume was seen in both domestic and international filings. A comparison of 2008 and 2017 numbers sees residential applications up by 29%, while foreign applications grew by 38% between 2007 and 2016 (according to the latest available data).

Ethiopia

The Ethiopian IP Office has launched – in collaboration with WIPO – an online trademark filing system, which will be available to all users by the end of 2019.

International

IP management and technology business CPA Global has announced that it is to merge with IP services company ipan/Delegate Group. According to a press release, “customers from both CPA Global and ipan/Delegate Group will benefit from the group’s combined capabilities: an expanded product range of software and tech-enabled services; more comprehensive data and analytics solutions that will serve their needs across a broader spectrum; and a broader geographical footprint that will result in improved local service and support.”

Ireland

A number of changes to Irish trademark law came into effect on 14 January 2019 after the EU Trademarks Regulations 2018 implemented Directive 2015/2436 into Irish law. Among the key changes introduced are the abolition of absolute grounds from opposition proceedings, the removal of graphical representation requirement in applications and an expansion of anti-counterfeiting measures.

Japan

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) has decided that from May 2019 individuals will no longer be able to register era names as trademarks. The JPO’s previous criteria allowed era names, excluding Heisi, to be registered, but after a revision of these guidelines no trademarks will be approved. Those already in possession of trademarks using old era names will be allowed to keep them and such marks will be treated as an exception going forward.

Taiwan

The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office has revealed that it received over 84,000 trademark applications in 2018 – the most in 18 years. A total of 59,840 applications were received from Taiwanese citizens – 2% down on 2017. However, 24,976 applications were filed by international applicants – an 11% year-on-year rise.

Thailand

The Ministry of Public Health National Tobacco Control Committee has approved a draft regulation requiring plain packaging to replace all current packaging for tobacco products. The change will make Thailand the first country in Asia and the 11th in the world to adopt plain packaging legislation in an attempt to further discourage cigarette smoking.

United Kingdom

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has stated its intention to continue funding the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) beyond June 2019, despite media reports speculating that future funding has fallen through. PIPCU Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell also confirmed the move, telling World Trademark Review: “PIPCU has always received two-year rolling funding from the IPO. While PIPCU’s funding does expire in June, the funding will be extended by the IPO.”

United States

INTA has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body Secretariat emphasising the association’s continuing concerns that Australia’s plain packaging tobacco law is inconsistent with the country’s obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. In the document INTA urges the WTO Appellate Body to seriously consider the “highly negative effects that the TPPA [Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011] could have not just within the tobacco industry, but potentially across all sectors of consumer goods.”

United States

The US Supreme Court has agreed to review Iancu v Brunetti, following a USPTO petition for a rehearing en banc in In re: Brunetti. The office contended that a Federal Circuit decision on the registrability of the FUCT mark “invalidates a century-old provision of federal trademark law that renders trademarks containing ‘scandalous’ and ‘immoral’ matter ineligible for the benefits of federal registration”. The Supreme Court will now look to bring clarity over the registrability of scandalous marks.

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