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13 July 2004

VOLTERRA registered for energy services

The Federal Commission of Appeal for IP Rights has allowed the registration of VOLTERRA for services relating to energy generation and distribution. The commission held that although the mark was identical to the name of a well-known town in Italy, consumers would understand the mark to be an invented term and would not associate it with the Italian town.

12 July 2004

No new home for disputed ‘TahoeLuxuryProperties’ domain names

In Tahoe Luxury Properties Inc v Chase, WIPO panellist Jonathan Hudis has refused to order the transfer of ‘TahoeLuxuryProperties.com’ and ‘TahoeLuxuryProperties.info’ to the complainant on the grounds that it did not have trademark rights in the term ‘Tahoe Luxury Properties’. Hudis held that the claimed mark was a generic term or, at best, a descriptive mark lacking acquired distinctiveness.

09 July 2004

Stopping criticism site proves taxing for mark owner

In Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v McCauley, a WIPO panellist has refused to order the transfer of ‘hjta.com’ to the complainant - an association that claimed to have common law trademark rights in the acronym HJTA. He held that the complainant had failed to establish that the respondent had no legitimate interest in the domain name because it was being used solely for bona fide, non-commercial criticism.

09 July 2004

High Court halts application to adduce new evidence

The High Court of England and Wales has refused an application to (i) adduce new evidence, and (ii) amend the grounds of opposition in an appeal against a hearing officer’s decision to allow registration of the mark GOLDFISCHLI. The court held, among other things, that the issues raised had been conclusively decided at the earlier proceedings and could not be re-examined.

08 July 2004

Registrar bars Cadbury’s purple colour mark

In Cadbury Limited v Beacon Sweets and Chocolates (Pty) Ltd, the registrar of trademarks has refused to register a specific shade of purple as a trademark. The registrar held that the mark, in the form in which it was represented in the application, was not capable of distinguishing chocolate confectionary pursuant to Sections 9 and 10(2)(a) of the South African Trademarks Act.

06 July 2004

VIAGRA receives extended protection

A hearing officer at the Australian Trademarks Registry has allowed Pfizer Products Inc to extend its defensive registration for VIAGRA to include a large number of goods and services that were excluded from the original registration. The hearing officer held that the connection between the goods and services covered by the new application and Pfizer’s VIAGRA mark was sufficient to allow the broader coverage.

02 July 2004

Animal welfare protestors allowed to keep 'covancecampaign.com'

In Covance Inc v Covance Campaign, WIPO panellist Alistair Payne has refused to order the transfer of 'covancecampaign.com' to the complainant - a drug development company that owns the COVANCE mark. He held that the registrant, a UK-based animal rights activist group, was making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name to protest against the complainant.

02 July 2004

Novartis sees its shape mark registration upheld

In Novartis AG v Bausch & Lomb Inc, the Swiss Supreme Court has upheld the validity of Novartis’s three-dimensional trademark for the cog-wheel shape of a catalytic disc used as part of its contact lens cleaning system. It ruled that the shape is not determined exclusively by its technical function, noting, among other things, that a number of other shapes for catalytic discs are available.

08 October 2004

Investment advisor's infringement claim crashes

In Knight-McConnell v Cummins, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed claims that the defendant had infringed the plaintiff's trademark rights or engaged in unfair competition under the Lanham Act or common law by (i) linking her website to the plaintiff's site, and (ii) using the plaintiff's name in the post-domain path of a URL.

07 October 2004

Benetton's marks COLOR-fast against infringement action

The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that Benetton's COLORS series of trademarks for clothes do not infringe Dama SpA's rights in prior marks also containing the word 'colors' for similar products. The court held that (i) Dama's marks are combination marks, and (ii) such marks are infringed only when their various elements are reproduced in a confusingly similar combination, which was not the case with Benetton's marks.

05 October 2004

Vuitton fails to prevent use of monogram design

A district court in New York has denied Louis Vuitton's request for a preliminary injunction against the use of a "multi-coloured monogram against a white or black background" used on a competitor's handbags. The court held that Vuitton had not shown that consumers identified the use of all designs featuring multiple bright colours against a black or white background as exclusively emanating from Vuitton.

04 October 2004

Scope of protection for well-known marks clarified

The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a lower court's finding that a well-known mark can only be protected against the use of a similar or identical mark where that mark is being used for goods in a similar field to those covered by the well-known mark. It stated that the decision as to whether to grant protection to a well-known mark depends on the facts of the case.

29 September 2004

Swiss Smarties tube shape mark registration cancelled

The Civil Court of Lausanne has upheld Mars's invalidity action against Nestlé's Swiss national trademark registration for an undecorated tube shape used as packaging for its Smarties brand of confectionery. The court held, among other things, that tube shapes are basic shapes for packaging and should not be monopolized by a single party.

29 September 2004

McDonald's swallows up BIG MAK infringer - at last

In McDonald's Corporation v LC Big Mak Burger Inc, the Philippine Supreme Court has ruled that (i) the mark BIG MAK for hamburgers infringes McDonald's BIG MAC mark for the same goods, and (ii) the use of packaging similar to that of McDonald's constitutes unfair competition.

27 September 2004

GOATS ready to roam in the United States

Fairview Winery of South Africa and Bully Hill Vineyards Inc of New York have settled their dispute over the application by Fairview to register GOATS DO ROAM for wine, which Bully Hill had opposed. Fairview's US trademark problems are not over as its application to register GOAT-ROTI for wine has been opposed by an organization that protects French appellations of origin on the basis of the CÔTE RÔTIE name for wine.