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10 January 2011

adidas victory as Trademark Office makes U-turn

The Colombian Trademark Office has granted adidas AG's application for the registration of two figurative marks consisting of three stripes embedded in clothing. The same marks had previously been denied registration on the grounds that they lacked distinctiveness. The Trademark Office revoked the previous decision and recognised that the three-stripe marks had acquired distinctiveness.

17 December 2010

Previous employee ordered to transfer domain name to employer

An adjudicator at the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law has ruled that the registration of the domain name '' by a previous employee of the complainant, the owner of the POCKETMEDIA mark, was an abusive registration in the hand of the registrant.

16 December 2010

Extra care must be taken when registering pharma marks

The Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs has found that there was a likelihood of confusion between the mark AFRIN for nasal decongestants and EPHRINE for eye drops. The commissioner pointed out that extra caution should be exercised when allowing the registration of a mark which is similar in appearance and sound to an existing registered mark, where the mark applied for is intended to be used for drugs.

15 December 2010

Supreme Court of Appeal clarifies procedure under Counterfeit Goods Act

In Minister of Trade and Industry v E L Enterprises, the Supreme Court of Appeal has clarified the meaning of Section 5(4) of the Counterfeit Goods Act, which sets out the procedure to be followed in the event of a search and seizure without a warrant. Until now, uncertainty over the procedure had caused advisors to recommend a conservative approach, which often meant additional costs and delay.

29 September 2010

Colour marks held to be registrable only in exceptional circumstances

In KUKA Roboter GmbH v OHIM, the General Court has upheld a decision of the Fourth Board of Appeal of OHIM in which the latter had found that a shade of orange was devoid of any distinctive character. The decision demonstrates that a colour per se, without any prior use, will be considered to be sufficiently distinctive to qualify for registration only in exceptional circumstances.

29 September 2010

Supreme Court accepts 'saturated market' defence in passing-off case

In Dead Sea Premier Cosmetics Laboratories Ltd v Nevo Israel (2005) Ltd, the Supreme Court has denied leave to appeal from the district court's refusal to grant an interim injunction in a passing-off case. The Supreme Court found that, in a saturated market, slight variations in product get-up are sufficient to prevent a likelihood of confusion.

24 September 2010

Refusal to register 'beer glass and stand' mark affirmed

In In re Brouwerij Bosteels, in a precedential opinion, the TTAB has held that a product packaging consisting of a beer glass and stand with wording including 'Pauwel Kwak' and scrollwork was not inherently distinctive, had not acquired distinctiveness and, therefore, did not function as a trademark for the applicant's goods.

24 September 2010

Vast reform of Industrial Property Code comes into force

Decree 131/2010, which amends the Industrial Property Code, has come into force. The new code is characterised by a concrete and realistic approach which aims to match the protection of each IP right with its actual value on the market. Among other things, a significant amendment expressly provides that trademarks may be protected against infringement by “domain names of sites used for an economic activity”.

23 September 2010

Close links between Estonia and Finland highlighted

The Estonian Supreme Court has refused to admit a cassation appeal in the long-running dispute between Estonian company Ülikooli Apteegi OÜ and Finnish company Yliopiston Apteekki. The case shows that, due to the close relationship between Estonia and Finland, Estonian companies must take Finnish trademark rights into account when choosing their trademarks and company names.

22 September 2010

Applicant's conduct irrelevant in opposition proceedings under Article 8

In Calvin Klein Trademark Trust v OHIM, the ECJ has upheld a decision of the General Court in which the latter had found that there was no likelihood of confusion between the marks CK and CK CREACIONES KENNYA. Among other things, the ECJ held that the General Court had not erred in refusing to give weight to the applicant’s actual use of the CK CREACIONES KENNYA mark.

16 September 2010

Bad faith directed at third parties may constitute bad faith under UDRP

In evoq communications AG v LLC, evoq communications AG has failed to obtain the transfer of the domain name '' under the UDRP. The panel held that, even if bad faith directed at third parties could constitute bad faith for the purpose of the UDRP, there was no evidence of any such bad faith in this case. The EVOQ mark had been registered by US car manufacturer General Motors before evoq's company was founded.

27 October 2010

dotEmarat domain names sunrise period launched

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has notified interested persons of the opening of the sunrise period for the internationalised domain name for the United Arab Emirates, dotEmarat. During the sunrise period, the UAE will accept supporting trademarks that do not contain Arabic script. This unexpected departure makes this new IDN a very attractive possibility for brand owners.

22 October 2010

New Trademark Act comes into force

The new Trademark Act has entered into force. One of the most significant amendments is the possibility to register service marks. Service providers, which have waited for a long time for their brands to be protected, have welcomed this development. Among other things, applicants are now required to conduct searches under Section 5 of the act.

21 October 2010

Another position mark is held to lack distinctive character

In Rosenruist - Gestão e serviços Lda v OHIM, the General Court has upheld a decision of the Second Board of Appeal of OHIM finding that a figurative mark consisting of two curves on a pocket lacked distinctive character. Among other things, the court held that a position mark needs a certain degree of originality to attract the consumers' attention, but that the mark at issue would not be perceived as anything more than a decoration.

20 October 2010

Insufficient factual basis for fraud where registrant sought advice of counsel

In MCI Foods Inc v Bunte, in a precedential decision, the TTAB has declined to find fraud on the USPTO based on an overly expansive goods description absent a more detailed factual record of the applicant’s communications with its trademark counsel. However, the TTAB cautioned that this finding does not mean that the mere assertion that one acted on 'advice of counsel' will make out a successful defence to a charge of fraud.