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14 September 2010

Google picks a fight in Europe as brand owners prepare for the worst

Google has rejected calls to work more closely with brand owners and today liberalises its AdWords programme in Europe. The new rules, which allow advertisers to include third-party trademark terms in ad text, have been "strongly criticised" by trademark owner groups.

13 September 2010

Oracle challenges Euro-defences, foresees cheaper enforcement

US computer hardware manufacturer Oracle has told WTR it is "confident that both its position on the facts and its arguments on the law will be upheld" in its opposition of parallel importers' reliance on so-called ‘Euro-defences’. Success would reduce a parallel importer's ability to avoid summary judgment by raising a Euro-defence and save other brand owners the expense of going to trial.

09 September 2010

USPTO: trademarks will get as good a data deal as patents

The USPTO this week announced its attractive and valuable Data Visualization Center, which displays for attorneys live statistics about the performance of the office. While patent attorneys cheered the initiative, trademark lawyers could have been forgiven for feeling left out. But they will soon be able to join in too: the USPTO has told WTR of plans to extend the service to the trademark side of its business.

07 September 2010

Google investigation must consider trademarks and AdWords

The news that Google is being investigated on antitrust concerns is perhaps not surprising, but the fact that regulators may study Google's keywords policies certainly is. However, the possibility that it will consider the impact of AdWords policies – set to change in Europe next week – is why trademark owners should watch this investigation unfold.

02 September 2010

Is the tide turning in the controversy over what to do about counterfeits?

On Monday, UK brand owners and law enforcement officers raided a counterfeit market at a racecourse, seizing hundreds of fake goods. On Tuesday, they opened the newspaper to a report entitled "Fake goods are fine, says EU study". This is a somewhat stretchy interpretation of the research. But its author has nevertheless angered the IP community.

31 August 2010

WTR survey to reveal corporate strategy on new gTLDs

WTR has launched a survey to find out exactly how brand owners are preparing for the introduction of new gTLDs. Our coverage of this topic has often acted as a lightning rod for the opinions of outspoken brand owners and internet experts: this survey will build on this by collecting responses from the widest base consulted so far on this topic. The research is supported by INTA, MARQUES, ECTA, CSC, CT Corsearch, NetNames, Com Laude and several associations of marketing professionals.

05 August 2010

Google bulldozes through trademarks in Europe (thanks to the ECJ)

Immediately after the ECJ published its controversial Google AdWords judgment earlier this year, WTR asked whether there were any compelling reasons for Google to come to the table and work with trademark owners. Now we know the answer is a firm no - Google has announced it will expand its trademark policy in Europe, allowing advertisers to use trademark terms as keywords.

30 July 2010

This doesn't have to be Czech mate for AB InBev's trademark strategy

Now that AB InBev has lost its argument to register BUDWEISER as a CTM, what should the famous beer brand do? It has tried for 14 long years to register the word as a CTM to bolster the national registrations it has in 23 of the 27 EU member states. But that will now be impossible: the ECJ yesterday ruled that Budejovický Budvar's earlier rights in Germany and Austria were sufficient to show genuine use of the mark in the Community and could therefore block AB InBev's application. So how exactly should AB InBev structure its trademark strategy in line with an evolving brand portfolio?

22 July 2010

Microsoft, Yahoo! and others face possible '.co' infringers

Last week we learnt that some of the world's biggest brands have bought in to the '.co' domain, either as part of a new domain name strategy or merely to protect their trademark rights from misuse. Now that the Colombian registry behind the widely popular domain has opened up for general availability, we know that trademark owners such as Yahoo! and Microsoft are facing possibly infringing uses of their trademarks - in what may become the most valuable domain since '.com'.

21 July 2010

Chinese search giant sells keywords to fake pharma

Owing to several high-profile court cases against Google, keywords are a major bone of contention for trademark owners in the United States and Europe. But can the same be said of other jurisdictions, where different search engines dominate? How about China? Recent allegations that suggest China's premier search engine is complicit in the promotion of counterfeit medicines paint a worrying picture.

16 July 2010

"Dialogue" alone won't purge auction sites of counterfeits

For auction sites, the removal of items from their listings dents their business models. The likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace are publicly in agreement with brand owners that the deletion of fake goods from auction sites is in everyone's best interests. While this position is welcomed by brand owners, a way through the issue is more elusive than cybersquatters' WHOIS data.

14 July 2010

Political machinations threaten core mission of EU trademarks office

The European Union can be a very peculiar place. As readers of this blog will know, the community may soon add enforcement and anti-counterfeiting to the remit of its financially successful trademark registry, OHIM. For many, it is a strange proposal, and OHIM president Wubbo de Boer has now echoed trademark owners' fears that the idea may be underpinned by political and financial motivations.

12 July 2010

Big brands have only days to block the '.co' cybersquatters

The Colombians are no doubt planning a big party. It seems that their well-funded attempt to turn the '.co' country-code top-level domain into a global alternative to '.com' may well pay off: over half of the top 500 global brands have signed up for a '.co' already. However, WTR has seen a list of domains invalidated during the sunrise period which suggests that the cybersquatters are circling - and brand owners have just days to protect some well-known marks.

07 July 2010

Trademark owners beware: augmented reality can pollute your brand

There's a new form of trademark infringement on the horizon. For the past few years, brand owners have been scratching their heads over what to do when third parties use their trademarks in online games and virtual worlds. The merging of parody, free speech and trademark infringement has led brands into some murky waters. Now programmers have come up with a new way to play with brand value: augmented reality.

06 July 2010

Time to finalize your new gTLD trademark enforcement strategy

Trademark lawyers may be fed up with talking about the new gTLD programme, but many are also morbidly fascinated by it. These individuals will be interested in a new list of prospective applicants. It is fascinating to see the diversity of new gTLDs and consider gloomily how they may infringe on trademarks owned by some of the world's best brands. If '.money' or '.car' take off and brand owners from the relevant sectors have no strategy to respond, imagine the consequences.