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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.

01 July 2004

Microsoft changes strategy to settle trademark dispute

Microsoft has settled a trademark lawsuit filed against it by Mythic Entertainment. Mythic accused Microsoft's forthcoming game, Mythica, of infringing its name and trademark. Under the settlement Microsoft has agreed not to use the term 'Mythica' for future online games, and has dropped its application to register MYTHICA as a trademark.

01 July 2004

Opposition procedure introduced in Hungary

Significant amendments to the Hungarian Trademark Act 1997 have come into force following Hungary's accession to the European Union. They have brought into effect fundamental changes to the Hungarian trademark registration system, the most important of which is the introduction of an opposition procedure.

30 June 2004

ECJ rules on who decides when a mark becomes generic

In a case referred by the Swedish Court of Appeal, the ECJ has ruled that in determining whether a mark has become generic, the opinion of consumers and, depending on the features of the market concerned, all those in the trade who deal with the product commercially will be relevant. The court did not specify, however, in what circumstances the opinions of traders should not be considered.

30 June 2004

Eminem wins battle for 'eminemmobile.com'

US rapper Marshall Mathers III, better known as Eminem, has joined the list of entertainers who have used WIPO proceedings to shut down websites operated by cybersquatters. In Mathers v Mcintosh, WIPO panellist J Nelson Landry held that the respondent had engaged in cybersquatting by registering and using 'eminemmobile.com', even though the website eventually featured a disclaimer stating that it was not affiliated with Eminem.

29 June 2004

Nominet consults on dispute resolution service reform

Nominet has issued a consultation paper seeking the views of stakeholder groups on the proposed reform of its dispute resolution services. The proposals have already been considered by Nominet's body of DRS experts. The paper examines four main areas: appeals, tribute/criticism sites, web designer cases and the 'without prejudice' rule.

28 June 2004

Pfizer stands firm against use of TRIAGRA mark

In Pfizer Inc v Y2K Shipping & Trading Inc, the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York has granted summary judgment in favour of the plaintiff on its claims that, among other things, the defendant's use of TRIAGRA for a herbal erectile dysfunction remedy infringed its VIAGRA mark pursuant to the Lanham Act, New York state law and common law.

22 June 2004

Pending design applications may be converted to new act applications

Design applications pending when the Designs Act 2003 came into force on June 17 may be examined under the new statute rather than the Designs Act 1906. However, applicants may find it difficult to make a decision as to whether to convert their applications as each statute presents advantages and drawbacks. For instance, the new act provides a broader definition of infringement while the old act offers longer registration terms.