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In <I>Discovery Holdings Limited v Sanlam Limited</I>, the Western Cape High Court has considered the position of ‘limping’ trademarks – that is, marks that are never used by themselves as they are weakly distinctive and gain support from the ‘crutch’ of another mark. The decision shows that it is important to use weak marks independently from the house mark to allow the public to recognise them.
11 September 2014
The myth that counterfeiting is a victimless crime was sharply dispelled in 2011 when South African customs official Johan Nortje was gunned down in front of his house, in what was described by police sources as a “hit”. This week it has been reported that the murder case has been withdrawn, and IP practitioners are being urged to keep the pressure on authorities.
04 July 2014
The confirmation that Twitter will let complainants use common law trademark rights in its complaints form has been welcomed by trademark practioners.
02 July 2014
In <I>Etraction (Pty) Limited v Tyrecor (Pty) Limited</I>, the Western Cape High Court has held that the respondent had common law rights in the INFINITY mark which predated the use and registration of the applicant’s rights and, accordingly, had a defence to the claim of trademark infringement. The court also found that the applicant did not have a <i>bona fide</i> claim to proprietorship of the mark and granted the respondent’s claim for partial cancellation.
03 June 2014
In <I>Massachusetts Financial Services v MFS Investments (Pty) Limited</I>, the Companies Tribunal has found that the name MFS Investments (Pty) Limited offended against Sections 11(2)(b) and 11(2)(c) of the Companies Act. Among other things, the tribunal held that the name was confusingly similar to the registered trademarks of Massachusetts Financial Services.
01 May 2014
In <I>Reynolds Presto Products Inc v PRS Mediterranean Limited</I>, the High Court has ordered that the trademark GEOWEB be removed from the Register of Trademarks under Section 24(1) of the Trademarks Act. Among other things, the court held that bad faith in relation to claims to proprietorship and trademark registration need not necessarily involve a breach of a legal obligation; it is sufficient that the court is of the view that the conduct is unethical.
15 April 2014
In <I>Pioneer Foods v Bothaville Milling</I>, the Supreme Court of Appeal has held that Pioneer Foods had failed to prove that Bothaville Milling was passing off its STAR super maize meal as Pioneer’s WHITE STAR super maize meal by selling it in a get-up deceptively or confusingly similar to that of Pioneer’s product. The court stated that, in assessing the likelihood of confusion, account should be taken of the value of the goods in question and the class of customers who buy the goods.
02 April 2014
A wine brand owner has been unable to enforce his trademark registration against use of a confusingly similar mark for wine grapes in a case that went on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The court’s decision in <i>Mettenheimer v Zonquasdrif Vineyards CC</i> is a worry not only for wineries, but also for brand owners in general.
06 January 2014
In <i>Société des Produits Nestlé SA v International Foodstuffs Co</i>, the North Gauteng High Court has found that Iffco, the owner of the word marks QUANTA BREAK and TIFFANY BREAK for chocolate-coated wafer finger products, did not infringe Nestlé’s ‘finger wafer' and HAVE A BREAK marks. The court also refused to expunge Iffco’s marks and rejected Iffco’s counter-application for expungement of Nestlé’s 'finger wafer' marks.
13 December 2013
In <i>Bayerische Motoren Werker Aktiengesellschaft v Grandmark International (Pty) Ltd</i>, the Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal against a ruling of the North Gauteng High Court which had caused quite a buzz amongst motor manufacturers and spare part suppliers alike. The lower court had held that it was not possible to file aesthetic design applications for articles in the nature of spare parts for motor vehicles.
03 October 2013
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