Law firm hacks, YouTube takedowns and the rise of the Google brand: our top trademark stories of 2017 so far

As we reach the halfway point of 2017, we reveal the most read blogs and Premium Updates on World Trademark Review so far this year – with online spats, trademark solicitation scams, INTA grand finale overcrowding and cyber-attacks on law firms all featured in the top 20.

Our most read blog of the year to date focused on the fierce online debate, sparked by popular video game critic Jim Sterling, about how companies allegedly abuse IP-reporting tools on YouTube to censor criticism. The story followed developer STICLI Games filing a trademark takedown request on a video critical of one of its games, basing its grievance solely on a stipulation in its own strict end user licence agreement. Two days after the publication of our article, Sterling confirmed that YouTube would not be removing the original video. Nonetheless, the significant readership of the story demonstrates that it is an issue many are concerned with.

In second spot on our list was our coverage of this year’s Brand Finance Global 500, which saw Google named the world’s most valuable brand. The revelation saw Apple toppled from the top spot for the first time in five years. Next was our investigation into law firm hacking, wherein we revealed dozens of firm websites had been infiltrated and defaced. While that incident was caused by an exploit on the WordPress web platform, there were reports this week of ransomware affecting thousands of organisations, highlighting how cybersecurity should be a priority for all firms.

The online world features prominently in the list of the 20 most read blogs, with a number of stories focused on anti-counterfeiting on ecommerce platforms. As well as an exploration of the reporting mechanisms on the Alibaba-backed Indian marketplace Paytm Mall, stories on the Chinese giant suing counterfeiters and Amazon’s expanded anti-counterfeiting programme proved popular. Also generating interest were two articles focused on the INTA Annual Meeting closing finale. The first reported on the association’s pledge to investigate complaints over overcrowding, which was followed a week later by the announcement that it would offer guest ticket refunds.  

Turning to our Premium Updates, which are available only to subscribers, the most-read piece featured analysis of The Art Company B & S SA v EUIPO. In this case, the General Court annulled a decision of the First Board of Appeal of the EUIPO in which the latter had found that two signs which both included a star figurative element and the word 'art' for identical goods were not confusingly similar. Although the 'art' element was of low distinctive character, it was still capable of being the distinctive element of the signs in question.

The 20 most-read blogs published since the start of 2017 (as of June 30) are:

  1. “Cure the disease, not the symptom” – prominent critic calls for improved YouTube takedown process following questionable trademark claim – March 10
  2. Apple no longer top of the tree; Google named world’s most valuable brand – February 1
  3. Law firm websites hacked due to WordPress exploit; expert warns of reputational risk of cyber security incidents – February 15
  4. INTA pledges to investigate complaints over grand finale overcrowding and attendees being refused entry – May 25
  5. EUIPO ranked world’s most innovative IP office in exclusive research – March 1
  6. Alibaba-backed Indian marketplace Paytm Mall lacks dedicated IP infringement reporting mechanism; brand owners urged to push for change – March 7
  7. Cyberpunk legend expresses concern over controversial trademark: "I wish someone from CD Projekt Red would contact me" – April 13
  8. Amazon announces expanded anti-counterfeiting programme, but claims arise of fakes being part of Amazon Marketplace's own inventory – March 27
  9. Toll of counterfeiting and piracy predicted to top $2.3 trillion as call made for governments to do more – February 6
  10. “Simple and correct” or “tremendous damage to minorities”? Opinion split on Matal v Tam decision – June 20
  11. WTR Industry Awards: the 2017 shortlisted teams and individuals unveiled – April 27
  12. A tale of two Squire Patton Boggs: global firm faces battle over its own name in China – April 27
  13. The 2017 edition of WTR 1000, identifying the world’s leading trademark professionals, now available online – January 17
  14. Leading e-sports players must take trademark protection seriously or risk losing ownership of their gamertags – February 21
  15. INTA offers guest ticket refunds following complaints over grand finale overcrowding – June 6
  16. IP professionals hit back after new call to rethink online trademark protection mechanisms – March 13
  17. USPTO pledges international approach to combat growing threat of trademark solicitation scams – May 9
  18. Survey reveals few indie game developers seek trademark protection; law firms urged to show door is open – April 6
  19. As one of the world’s largest IP service providers mulls $2.5 billion sale, Asian buyers will see a huge opportunity – April 3
  20. Swarovski praises Alibaba Group suing counterfeiters; takes swipe at rival’s “lax IP enforcement” – January 5

The top 20 Premium Updates were:

  1. Low distinctiveness of word element does not preclude it from being most distinctive element of marks – March 1
  2. Kit Kat decision sets high bar for proving acquired distinctiveness of shape marks – January 19
  3. No similarity between the signs: game over! – January 16
  4. High Court issues useful guidance on trademark infringement and passing off in keyword advertising – January 13
  5. High Court: Apple's IWATCH mark is not registrable for computers, computer software and related goods – April 13
  6. Does Louis Vuitton lack a sense of humour? The parody defence is no laughing matter for brand owners – January 25
  7. EU Trademark Court confirms that use of well-known trademarks to sell smell-alikes is infringing – January 23
  8. ECJ cancels Rubik's Cube registration – January 3
  9. The concept of ‘bad faith’ – June 16
  10. ECJ's Brandconcern decision shows importance of clarity in registration to avoid claims of non-use – March 28
  11. ECJ: owner may enforce EUTM without having to demonstrate genuine use during five-year period following registration – February 9
  12. General Court finds likelihood of confusion between figurative MORGAN & MORGAN marks for Class 36 services – February 7
  13. General Court provides guidance on revocation of EUTMs for non-use – April 6
  14. General Court: the fact that an element is weakly distinctive does not mean that it is of secondary importance – March 13
  15. ECJ widens scope for forum shopping in Hummel Holding v Nike – June 15
  16. Several shades of green not distinctive as a colour mark – June 5
  17. PRET A MANGER held to be highly distinctive – January 11
  18. Nestlé loses latest appeal in Kit Kat 3D trademark battle – June 12
  19. General Court issues FAIR & LOVELY decision in Unilever's favour – March 24
  20. ECJ confirms that there is no likelihood of confusion between KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS and DONUT/DONUTS – March 22

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