Thailand IP office responds to passport data; USPTO seeks TPAC nominations; Anaqua and Aurora North team up – news digest

Every Tuesday and Friday, WTR presents a round-up of news, developments and insights from across the trademark sphere. In our latest round-up, we look at a new study that finds brands with feminine names may be more appealing, the Latvian Patent Office making its trademark images available in TMview, and much more. Coverage this time from Victoria Arnold (VA), Bridget Diakun (BD), Tim Lince (TJL) and Trevor Little (TL).

Market radar:

Anaqua and Aurora North team up – IP management solutions company Anaqua has announced a strategic partnership with IP prosecution software, services and consulting specialist Aurora North. As part of the agreement, Anaqua will more closely integrate its IP management software with IP prosecution solutions from Aurora North – the developer of a PracticeLink IP prosecution suite, which is used by IP firms to automate, centralise and integrate patent and trademark prosecution workflow and reporting. “Our new partnership with Aurora North is the latest in a series of significant investments we’ve been making to enhance the services and solutions we offer to our law firm customers,” explains Domenic Leo, vice president and general manager of law firms at Anaqua. “Aurora North provides a centralized platform for enabling seamless IP team collaboration and automated prosecution workflow. Integrating data and functionality from PATTSY WAVE creates even greater levels of visibility and productivity for law firms.” (TL)

New study finds brands with feminine names may be more appealing – A study published in the Journal of Marketing has found that feminine-sounding brands may be more appealing “because they are often perceived as warmer and thereby associated with traits like trustworthiness, sincerity, friendliness, tolerance and good nature”, reports the Wall Street Journal. A number of factors determine whether a name is perceived to be feminine or masculine, including the fact that women’s names are more likely to end in a vowel sound. Part of the research was to see how participants reacted to two fake brands: one with feminine linguistic characters and the other with male. Overall, people preferred the feminine brand names. But there were some exceptions. Feminine brand names did not have the same power if the product was designed solely for men, and their advantage disappeared when the product was functional. The researchers further analysed the linguistic characteristics of existing brands using Interbrand’s index. They found that 55% of the top brands had feminine-sounding names, 36% had masculine-sounding names and 9% had gender-neutral names. (BD)

FSC and Pirelli join forces for groundbreaking collaboration –  Pirelli has become the first company in the world to produce a range of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified tyres. Designed for the BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid, the P ZERO tyre contains FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon and is described by Jeremy Harrison, chief markets officer at FSC International, as “a significant milestone in the drive to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits across the natural rubber value chain; this is particularly important in the context of natural rubber’s sustainability challenges”. Ugreson Maistry, FSC trademark and IP counsel, advised on the deal and tells WTR: “The IP agreement between FSC and Pirelli regarding the new Pirelli P ZERO Tyre is a major breakthrough for sustainably sourced natural rubber. The new Pirelli P ZERO tyre uses FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon as well as other materials. FSC certified natural rubber is focused on the tyre/automotive, footwear and hygiene sectors. The implementation of FSC certification for natural rubber plantations, forests and chain of custody supports responsible and sustainable natural rubber production. It is incredible to see the effect that trademarks and certification marks have had and continue to have in sectors like the natural rubber and the automotive industries.” (TL)

Biggest plastic polluting brands revealed – When it comes to the brands to blame for single-use plastic pollution, food and beverage brands such as Coca-Cola often top the list. However, a new report – “The Plastic Waste Makers Index” by the Australia-based philanthropic Minderoo Foundation – has uncovered 20 brands that produce (and therefore contribute to) more than half of the world’s single-use plastic for products including face masks, shopping bags, coffee cups and cling film. Rather than name the brands that directly sell these products, the report identified the companies that produce the plastic in around 1,000 factories around the world. Incredibly, just 20 companies produce more than 50% of all single-use plastic, with the top producers being ExxonMobile (5.9%), Dow (5.6%), Sinpec (5.3%), Indorama Ventures (4.6%), Saudo Aramco (4.3%), PetroChina (4%), LyondellBasell (3.9%), Reliance Industries (3.1%), Braskem (3%) and Alpek (2.3%). (TJL)

USPTO and Texas State Bar to celebrate Lanham Act anniversary – On 17 and 18 June the USPTO and Texas State Bar Intellectual Property Law Section will be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Lanham Act and honouring Texas Congressman Fritz G Lanham with a virtual event. The programme includes eight hours of free CLE and provides an opportunity to learn about Congressman Lanham, the history of the Lanham Act and the role that it plays in protecting US businesses and consumers. The event will feature a ‘State of the Office’ interview with the USPTO’s Drew Hirshfeld and Hope Shimabuku, a keynote from commissioner for trademarks David Gooder and special remarks from Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas, Chief Judge Gerard Rogers of the TTAB and Jennifer McDowell of INTA. Details on the event are available here. (TL)

Brand radar:

Target’s private label brands record growth in Q1 – Target’s 2021 first quarter results were pretty stellar, with comparable sales up 22.9% and revenue growing 23.4% to $24.2 billion. The strong numbers were largely driven by increasing sales in apparel and home and hardline products. Notably, Target’s private label brands saw sales grow by 36% – the strongest the retailer has ever recorded. “Target’s private label launches have proven to be an effective tool to drive sales, as shown in its first quarter results,” reports Retail Dive. The company, along with other major retailers, has been working to elevate its private label offerings, as research indicates that consumers are becoming less loyal to certain brands. Target’s activewear brand All in Motion hit $1 billion in sales in its first year. The company also recently released a private label in the craft space called Mondo Llama. (BD)

Promoting vaccination, good policy or risky marketing? – Consumers have been putting pressure on major brands to take a stance on social issues for a number of years, and the pandemic is no exception. With the global vaccination campaign well under way it is important for companies to consider how to approach this issue and the risks involved for their brand reputation. There are undoubtedly people who want to see the top brand owners adopting a ‘pro-vaccine’ stance, but equally there is a significant part of the market that is strongly opposed to vaccinations and would see any promotion by a company as going too far. One solution is for businesses to toe the middle line. This can be done by donating to vaccination campaigns – a strategy that has been adopted by Anheuser-Busch InBev. However, it is always difficult to determine what the ‘right’ branding decision is when it comes to high-profile social and political movements. More often than not there is no preconceived blanket response that will work for every issue, meaning that it very much depends on the problem at hand. This is not particularly helpful, but it does highlight the need for businesses to be creative in their response to vaccines and think through every aspect of their strategy, even if it is not saying anything at all. (BD)

Campari’s M&A will target premium brands – Italian drinks groups Campari is looking to get its hands on more premium brands through acquisitions focused on the United States and Asia, reports Reuters. The company already owns Aperol, Skyy vodka and Grand Marnier. (BD)

Office radar:

(For more of the latest coronavirus-related updates from national IP offices, please read our dedicated article which is being continuously updated.)

Thai IP office responds to passport data concern – Last week, WTR revealed that hundreds of application passport numbers had been published by global IP offices, including appearing on free trademark search engines such as TMview and WIPO’s Global Brand Database. One fraud expert claimed that the publication of such sensitive information could be used by bad actors for “identity theft or other fraud schemes”. Shortly after publication of the article, the EUIPO and the UK Intellectual Property Office confirmed that they would be taking steps to remove the information. This week, another registry that published passport numbers, Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), contacted WTR to confirm it had also taken action. “DIP Thailand would like to assure you that we place high importance on personal data protection, [and] we believe that there are errors in the process of filing applications,” a DIP spokesperson said. “As we take the personal data matter seriously, our Information and Communication Technology Center has already checked and handled such errors since 21 May 2021 and are now just waiting for the update from WIPO's side. We also contacted WIPO to update the information in the WIPO Global Brand Database; we believe it will be updated at the soonest.” On top of that, the DIP representative explained that the Thai government has now enacted the Personal Data Protection Act (BE 2562/2019). (TJL)

USPTO seeks TPAC nominations – The USPTO is seeking nominations to fill upcoming vacancies on the Patent Public Advisory Committee and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee. The committees were created in 1999 through the Patent and Trademark Office Efficiency Act to advise the secretary of commerce and the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and the director of the USPTO on the management of patent and trademark operations, including matters relating to goals, performance, budgets and user fees. Each committee consists of nine appointed voting members who serve a three-year term. The nominations window is open until 9 July 2021, with full details available in the Federal Register Notice. (TL)

Latvia adds images to complete EU full house on TMView – The Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia has made its trademark images available in TMview. The images have been added to the visual search tool, which allows users to search for trademark images from the participating countries. The addition of Latvia’s data means that all EU IP offices have now included their trademark images in TMview. (TL)

On the move:

Corsearch announces new CTO – Corsearch has announced the appointment of Jon Wrennall as the company’s new chief technology officer (CTO). Wrennall has a wealth of experience in the technology sector as former CTO at Fujitsu UK and Ireland and the first CTO at HM Revenue & Customs, as well as having held commercial roles at Accenture and British Aerospace. A spokesperson for Corsearch said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Corsearch’s new Chief Technology Officer, Jon Wrennall. Over a career spanning more than 25 years, Jon has been a committed leader at several global organisations and a passionate advocate for the development and implementation of transformational technologies.” On his decision to join the company, Wrennall stated: “I chose Corsearch because of the people and the opportunity. I passionately believe that brand and intellectual property are the most valuable assets a business has, and I believe Corsearch is perfectly positioned to define the brand risk and performance market globally. The open, friendly, can-do culture of the company has reinforced that it is the right place for me. I’m really looking forward to helping accelerate the Corsearch journey and delivering innovations that support our customers with pace, passion, pride and professionalism.” (VA)

And finally...

Latest edition of the WTR 300 now available WTR is pleased to announce the publication of the fifth edition of WTR 300: The World’s Leading Corporate Trademark Professionals. The publication identifies the individuals deemed to be the leading lights of the corporate trademark world. The full methodology for the publication is available here but, in summary, we ran a three-month campaign to elicit nominations from the trademark community. Individuals who received multiple nominations from outside their own organisation were long-listed and the editorial team then engaged in additional research and outreach before deciding on the final list. As a result, many nominees did not receive the requisite number of nominations or make it through the rigorous vetting process. Of those that did, Amazon, Apple and Facebook each have seven team members included this year, with Netflix’s bench of expertise represented by six IP professionals. Close behind are 3M, L'Oréal, Louis Vuitton, Mars, Nike, Philip Morris and Red Bull. The full list is now available to view here.

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