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27 January 2011

Ireland adopts harmonised list of goods and services

The Irish Patents Office has decided to adopt the harmonised list of goods and services, as drawn up by the UK Intellectual Property Office and OHIM. This is a welcome development, which will assist practitioners in determining what terms are acceptable, and the correct classification for these terms, when filing Irish or Community trademark applications.

26 January 2011

Successive failures show lack of direction for IP litigation system

The Portuguese IP litigation system seems to be a succession of failures: the system currently in place (ie, the concentration of a significant number of IP cases in the commercial courts of Lisbon and Porto) does not work, and the new specialised IP court has been criticised on all fronts. In November 2010 the secretary of state for justice, who was a great supporter of the new IP court, resigned from the government.

25 January 2011

Two different outcomes in cases involving descriptive word combinations

In cases involving the marks AQUACLEAN and DERM'INTIM, the Court of Cassation has ruled on two appeals on a point of law by the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property against judgments of the Brussels Court of Appeal. The different outcomes of the cases might suggest that the Court of Cassation was torn between a more permissive and a more restrictive approach to word marks that combine descriptive components.

25 January 2011


In In re Hoefflin, the TTAB has affirmed a decision of the trademark examining attorney denying three applications based on failure to obtain consent of a living individual. The TTAB found that President Barack Obama’s name was sufficiently unique and had achieved sufficient notoriety, and that a trademark incorporating his first or last name would immediately suggest a relationship to him.

24 January 2011

Supreme Court refers questions to ECJ on jurisdiction in keyword cases

The Supreme Court has referred questions to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling in a case involving the use of the Austrian trademark WINTERSTEIGER as a keyword by a German advertiser on a German search engine. At issue was whether the Austrian courts had jurisdiction over the case.

20 January 2011

Jewellery mark held to take unfair advantage of LA PERLA

In Nute Partecipazioni SpA, formerly Gruppo La Perla SpA v OHIM, the General Court has annulled a decision of the Second Board of Appeal of OHIM insofar as it dismissed an application for a declaration of invalidity of the mark NIMEI LA PERLA MODERN CLASSIC. The court concluded that the owner of the mark sought to ride on the coat-tails of the earlier LA PERLA mark to benefit from its power of attraction, reputation and prestige.

19 January 2011

European Commission: Serbia makes moderate progress in IP protection

As part of its Enlargement Package for 2010, the European Commission has recently issued a progress report on Serbia, part of which concerns the protection of IP rights. According to the report, Serbia has made moderate progress in the field of IP rights protection over the past year.

18 January 2011

ECJ upholds Dutch claim to 'Bavaria'

The ECJ has issued its decision in Bavaria NV v Bayerischer Brauerbund eV, a reference for a preliminary ruling from the German Bundesgerichtshof. The dispute opposed Bayerischer Brauerbund eV, a German association protecting the interests of Bavarian brewers, and Bavaria NV, a Dutch brewer which uses the word ‘Bavaria’.

17 January 2011

Small amount of promotional conduct may constitute trademark use

In Optical 88 Limited v Optical 88 Pty Limited (No 2), the Federal Court has considered the use in Australia of the mark OPTICAL 88 and related trade indicia with respect to the retail supply of optical goods and services. The decision demonstrates that use of a mark may occur via a small amount of promotional conduct. However, use must be in relation to the actual goods or services in relation to which the mark is registered.

14 January 2011

Luxury fashion company's marks struck off the register

In Virginia Carolina Corp Inc v Hugo Boss Trademark Management GmbH, the registrar of trademarks has struck the trademarks HUGO BOSS and BOSS off the register on the grounds of non-use. The registrar concluded that the marks had never been used in Israel with respect to tobacco products, and that Hugo Boss never intended to use the marks with respect to the goods for which they were registered.

12 January 2011

Supreme Administrative Court favours Croatian company in spicy dispute

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that Polish company Japart could not obtain protection for the mark MASTER COOK, thereby ending the lengthy trade dress and unfair competition dispute between Japart and Croatian company Podravka, which produces the well-known spice mix Vegeta.

12 January 2011

Supreme Court confirms that marks should not be dissected

In a case involving Estée Lauder's CLINIQUE mark and Gufic Ltd's SKINCLINIQ mark, the Supreme Court has upheld a decision of the division bench of the Delhi High Court. In doing so, the Supreme Court confirmed that marks should not be split into their component parts when assessing similarity; rather, they should be compared as a whole.

11 January 2011

Conditions for passing off satisfied in 'elephant' battle

In Tresplain Investments Ltd v OHIM, the General Court has upheld a decision of the First Board of Appeal of OHIM finding that a figurative CTM owned by Tresplain Investments Ltd was invalid under Article 52(1)(c) of the Community Trademark Regulation. Among other things, the court agreed with the board's analysis that the three conditions for an action under the UK law of passing off had been established.

11 January 2011

Court decision sends strong warning to cybersquatters

The Paris Court of First Instance has ruled in favour of the SNCF, France's national railway operator, in a case involving the registration of a domain name infringing its trademark SNCF. In light of the damages awarded in this case, the decision will send a very strong message to cybersquatters targeting the SNCF, its trademarks and domain names.

10 January 2011

Refusal to register movement mark annulled

In Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB v OHIM, the Second Board of Appeal of OHIM has annulled the examiner's refusal to register a movement mark on behalf of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB. The board held that the mark, in conjunction with its description, met the criteria set out in Article 4 of the Community Trademark Regulation.