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01 July 2010

Exploitation or business as usual? Navigating the ambush marketing minefield

It is rare that trademark disputes grab global headlines in the way that recent ambush marketing activities in South Africa have. Much of the coverage has focused on those who blatantly flout the laws passed to deter these activities - often overlooked are the brands which want to carry on with legitimate marketing efforts while an event takes place. Yet how easy is it to actually walk the thin line between ‘business as usual' and accusations of exploitation? WTR put this question to Nike.

29 June 2010

ACTA talks reopen, trademark lobby regroups

As the latest round of talks over the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) opened this week, the International Trademark Association (INTA) has submitted three recommendations to the negotiating states.

28 June 2010

European politicians are alive to the business of trademarks

While the Community trademark (CTM) system has long been a contentious topic, it is now baking in the heat of political point-scoring by trademark owners, national offices and Eurocrats alike. Germany's Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP, chair of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, last week outlined his belief that use in one member state constitutes genuine use and that, although the study into the future of the trademark system is still underway, Parliament would make sure that reform will not weaken the system.

23 June 2010

Trademark counsel should not rely on World Cup and Olympics laws for protection

While brand owners have been stepping up anti-counterfeiting operations in South Africa, non-sponsoring brands have been flouting the laws passed to deter ambush marketing. And the case concerning Bavaria's orange-clad cheerleaders proves that such laws do not necessarily stand up.

22 June 2010

Bold promises from the IP czar's shiny joint strategic plan

Among the many detailed ideas included in the Joint Strategic Plan, published today by President Obama's IP enforcement coordinator, is the promise of the government to help and listen to "victims" (clarified as rights holders) of IP infringement - and even a full review of IP laws.

16 June 2010

The big business potential of trademark and domain name service providers

No trademark counsel finds it easy to win more budget from senior management. This battle becomes even trickier when the argument is made on behalf of a company that the trademark counsel wants to hire for its domain name and internet-related services. Many counsel do not know how to convince senior management why they should allocate the budget for such spend. This was the subject of a conversation I had recently with David Gandy, managing director of Group NBT's corporate brand management division.

14 June 2010

Users cannot provide a united front against European challenges

"The books are open again," I was recently told by Alexander von Mühlendahl, co-founder of the CTM system, referring to the comprehensiveness of the study into the European trademark system. The sheer scope of the study means that the Max Planck researchers are collecting diverse opinions on issues such as genuine use - even from users, the one group you'd think would have a united stance.

11 June 2010

Indian IPO speaks out against fresh corruption allegations

For the first time since his successful modernizing reform process began 18 months ago, the head of the Indian patent and trademark office has a tricky PR situation on his hands. PH Kurian's office is under fire for allegedly "spinning off" its trademark function, with one attorney arguing that this "will shift the system back to its inefficient past". To find out what was going on, WTR spoke to Kurian.

08 June 2010

You have 10 minutes to outline your thoughts on the European trademark system

Now the ash cloud has dispersed, trademark owners will today meet the Max Planck Institute researchers conducting the study into the functionality of the European trademark system. Unfortunately, each user association will only have 10 minutes to detail their concerns.

04 June 2010

USPTO powers up for futuristic trademark services (with help from Google)

Keen readers of this blog will be familiar with the push for free trademark data. Over the past year, we have reported on various initiatives to open up trademark registers around the world. Today WIPO launches its free WIPO Gold service to provide IP data to the public via a web portal that is reminiscent of an old WTR front cover. In the US, following our revelation that the USPTO was searching for a partner that could open up the US trademark database, the organization looked no further than info-troll Google, which has just published bulk US trademark data for all to see.

03 June 2010

Should BP's trademark team be airdropped into the Gulf?

As brand strategists wallow in the horror of BP's brand disaster, here at WTR we're wondering whether the trademark team could have been better positioned to help the company prepare for a brand implosion.

02 June 2010

Is Canada finally preparing to join the 21st Century?

The wheels at the Canadian IP Office are grinding forward - but they are moving at least. Long regarded as one of the most backward IP offices among its peers in the G8 countries, CIPO is now pushing for amendments to Canada's Trademarks Act. The goal, top officials recently told WTR, is accession to the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademark.

01 June 2010

Mark owners should stay vigilant as governments' opposition to ACTA grows

Trademark owners' concerns over the proposed ACTA had been gathering pace right up until the draft agreement was published in April. But, once mark owners had absorbed ACTA's key points, they went about their business. Nothing to see here, they thought. But the international community remains concerned as to whether the agreement will override accepted norms provided by WIPO and the WTO.

28 May 2010

European trademarks saved by new gTLD clearinghouse rule, but details sketchy

Trademarks that have undergone examination based only on absolute grounds of refusal will be welcomed into the Trademark Clearinghouse proposed for the new gTLD space, WTR has learnt. The news came from Kurt Pritz, senior vice president, services, at ICANN, who was speaking at a roundtable hosted this morning by the UK IPO.

21 May 2010

Court applies smell-alike ruling, but is not happy about it

While the Court of Appeal for England and Wales has followed the European Court of Justice ruling in L’Oréal v Bellure, Lord Justice Jacob has made it clear he isn’t happy about muzzling commercial free speech. Expect the debate over free riding to continue.