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18 May 2010

Switzerland: Gillette's G is not the best a man can get

That is, if the 'man' is a trademark examiner with the Swiss IP office. Mark owners have long criticized the Swiss authorities for being overly strict when it comes to trademark examination. But, in a new ruling of the Federal Administrative Court, the authorities are probably on the button. The court has denied Gillette's application to register its letter G as a trademark, arguing that the mark is not distinctive enough.

18 May 2010

China's trademark litigation landscape may not be as perilous as many think

Surveying China's trademark litigation landscape as part of some research for a magazine feature, I have found that the jurisdiction which was infamous for being something of a ‘Wild Wild East’ is now making rapid improvements in its judiciary and court system. Many commentators have already written a great deal about litigation trends in China. Taking a new approach, thanks to some exclusive, unpublished court data and the testimonies of former judges and experts, WTR has uncovered exactly why foreign brand owners should no longer fear the dragon.

17 May 2010

UK ponders trademark protection for two-character domains

With the UK yet to release one- and two-character domains, registry Nominet is canvassing for feedback on the proposed introduction process. Brand owners would be advised to get involved to avoid a repeat of the German experience, where the lack of a sunrise period resulted in a free-for-all for key domains.

14 May 2010

Europe's anti-counterfeiting team between a rock and a hard place

The European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy is to hold its first events at the European Parliament from June 21 - 25. The week will include exhibitions, information sessions, short films and ceremonies to raise the profile of the observatory and awareness of the issues surrounding counterfeiting and piracy. These are commendable activities, so why does a question mark hang over the location of the observatory?

13 May 2010

General Court sketches out similarities between design and trademark law

The latest decision from the General Court of the European Union has clarified when an earlier trademark right can be used to invalidate a later registered Community design, shedding new light on the interplay of trademark law and design rights under the Council Regulation on Community Designs (6/2002). The methodology used by the court will be welcomed by many trademark professionals.

11 May 2010

Mark owners feel ignored, but will the European Commission listen?

European trademark owners are on the warpath. They are already unconvinced that the study into the EU trademark system is listening to their opinions, and now there is dismay that the European Council is trying to force the OHIM to commence anti-counterfeiting work and the 50% split of CTM renewal fees with national offices. So they are going right to the top: user association MARQUES today meets with the European Commission to try and explain why now is not the time to start work on these areas.

10 May 2010

It looks like the USPTO desires free trademark data for all, too

Here's a gentle whisper from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It appears that the agency is searching for a partner that can help it open up its trademark register to the public free of charge. The USPTO, which already operates a searchable trademark database, made noises last year about developing its technology in the interests of transparency and user experience.

07 May 2010

Now governments are backing brand owners in trademark gTLD debate

The saga over trademark protection in the new generic top-level domain space may resemble a long-running soap opera but the UK Intellectual Property Office is planning to cut through the confusing plot turns to help trademark counsel work out exactly why this topic needs their urgent attention - and it is not before time.

30 April 2010

Is the Special 301 Report out of date?

The Special 301 Report is starting to look tired. Not only will ACTA be a much stronger instrument in stopping the counterfeit trade, but the White House plan to fight IP theft through better stakeholder coordination sounds like a much more sensible approach to the problem.

30 April 2010

Rosetta Stone v Google thrown out: mark owners need new tactics

There is no stopping Google selling trademark terms as keywords. That is the message from the US courts this week. A judge from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has dismissed Rosetta Stone's case against the search giant, effectively killing off once and for all the conventional method of attacking the AdWords programme.

28 April 2010

Chanel's brand may need a polish if it cannot stop No 6

If you thought that Chanel's registration for NO 5 in Class 3 was enough to stop a competitor registering NO 6 in the same class, think again. The USPTO has just rejected Chanel's opposition to the NO 6 mark, in a move that could stop owners of famous brands in their tracks.

27 April 2010

This Deloitte brand list has certainly got in-house counsel talking

Thanks to its vague methodology, the Deloitte brand list is causing a stir. Last week we noted that Thomson Reuters, one of the world's most valuable brands and parent of a company whose function is to protect brands online, had not made the list, and then asked whether this called into question the criteria behind the list. Senior in-house counsel have now joined the debate.

23 April 2010

Is Thomson CompuMark really failing to protect its own brand online?

Looking again through the Deloitte brands list, drawn up to pinpoint the 100 best protected brands online, one name is notable for its absence. You would expect Thomson Reuters to be among the brands noted for exceptional online protection for two reasons: firstly, according to Interbrand, it is one of the world's most valuable brands and, most importantly, because its company Thomson CompuMark is world renowned as a leader in the field of online brand protection.

22 April 2010

EU study grinds to a halt, stranding CTM users

The latest victim of Eyjafjallajoekull is the study into the EU trademark system. Today was supposed to be CTM owners' chance to participate in the ongoing study into the EU trademark system, with no fewer than 15 user associations invited to Munich to meet the researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) and provide further input. But now the meeting has been cancelled, users are concerned that their voices may not be heard.

21 April 2010

Now that ACTA is published, WIPO has two options

The parties negotiating ACTA have finally published a draft of the controversial treaty. As expected, one of its most fascinating provisions is that for an ACTA oversight committee, a forum that many fear would bypass WIPO.