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10 June 2010

Will BP, Mars and British Airways win in the latest domain landrush?

Few brands are powerful enough to require only one or two characters for consumers to recognize them. Among this select group are some of the world's most distinctive brands: BA, BP, HP, M&Ms and VW. These brands and their two-character peers may have solid trademark protection but will that be enough in the new '.co.uk' domain space?

08 June 2010

First communiqué from new UK IP minister dodges trademarks

The minister appointed by the new British government to cover intellectual property has written a brief statement outlining the importance of her new beat. It is delightful to see Baroness Judith Wilcox acknowledge that "since the mid-1990s, UK firms of all types have been investing more in ‘knowledge’ or intangible assets than they have in traditional capital". Other governments around the world would do well to recognize this, but so few have ministers whose role specifically includes intellectual property - even though the new government adapted the portfolio somewhat.

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.

07 June 2010

IP community shakes its head as the URS piles on the pounds

The proposed Uniform Rapid Suspension system is becoming heavier by the day - and simultaneously losing potency. This reality is gradually trickling through the IP community as active members read through the fourth version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook, the manual for applying for a new generic top-level domain. It appears that the URS, one of the oldest proposals to protect trademark rights in the new space, has become heavily burdened in the course of the various ICANN processes.

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.

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?

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.

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.

06 May 2010

Spain launches IP plan, but is a top-down approach enough?

Last month the Spanish minister of industry, tourism and commerce, Miguel Sebastián, unveiled the country’s first Strategic Plan for the Promotion of Intellectual Property. Although this initiative has been broadly welcomed by the industry, so long as legal education is under-supported by government initiatives, the nation's IP regime can never develop to its full potential.

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.

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.

13 April 2010

OHIM's perplexing management strikes again, denies Council a voice over president

The race for the new president of the OHIM seems all but over. Yesterday's surprise announcement means Antonio Campinos has won so much support from OHIM's Administrative Board that only his name will be forwarded for consideration by the European Council. OHIM's rules have created a potentially sticky situation as they have led to the board giving the Council no choice: it must appoint Campinos or no one.