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27 September 2012

‘Man of the match’ sale revives the debate on trademark auctions

Last week, Sky News reported that a portfolio of trademarks and other IP rights relating to the term ‘man of the match’ had been sold at auction for an undisclosed fee to an anonymous bidder. While the sale of the rights to a slogan familiar to sports fans around the world has attracted a modicum of mainstream press interest, it also resurrects a key question for trademark owners and practitioners: will trademark auctions be the next big thing – or are they just a flash in the pan?

24 September 2012

Phantom brands take private-label products beyond supermarket shelves

A recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph shone a light onto the seemingly recession-proof performance of fixed-price budget chains, including Poundland. One way in which it pulls in the punters is by marketing so-called ‘phantom brands’ to create a more appealing shopping experience. Other retailers have also deployed phantom brands to increase market share – setting alarm bells ringing for name-brand owners already facing massive competition from supermarkets.

18 July 2012

Marketers get creative as Olympic ‘brand police’ get active

On Monday London welcomed the first of the visiting Olympic athletes and officials. Joining the official delegates were nearly 300 enforcement officers, ready to police games-related marketing. Yet while the advertising rules may seem as challenging to navigate as England’s multi-lane motorway system at first glance, some brands are getting creative as they seek to benefit from the global gaze about to be focused on London.

04 May 2012

Recovering reputation – how BP is turning the tide of consumer perception

Two years ago WTR considered the role the trademark team could play in managing BP’s corporate reputation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. A new study suggests that the company has made positive progress over the past 24 months, with the key takeaway being that sometimes actions speak louder than a managed message.

17 November 2011

Cadbury’s colour victory and its best practice pointers

UK IP law will allow for some variation on a single colour mark, but public perception remains key to establishing distinctiveness and claiming ownership. At least, that’s the takeaway following Cadbury’s victory over Nestlé in its claim to the colour purple for chocolate.

06 July 2011

Chanel, adidas, UGG and others join new anti-counterfeiting scheme

Counterfeit goods proliferate on the Internet, but then so do the websites and initiatives created to fight them. It seems that almost daily, a new private or public scheme is established in countries as diverse as the United States, Uganda and China. The latest comes from UK authorities, who have attracted support from Chanel, adidas, UGG, Ray Ban, Links of London and Timberland for Brand-i, a simple online store directory that aims to re-educate consumers about safe shopping.

20 June 2011

Oral licensee of CTM can sue for infringement

In Jean Christian Perfumes Ltd v Thakrar (trading as Brand Distributor or Brand Distributors Ltd), John Baldwin QC, sitting as a deputy judge in the High Court of England and Wales, has ruled that even an oral licensee of a Community trademark can sue for infringement.

21 April 2011

Good taste and guidelines: brands at Britain’s royal wedding

Although Britain’s royal family has something else to celebrate at the moment, its members may be pleased to hear that the fast-approaching marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton has brought extra work to trademark lawyers. A number of attorneys are advising clients on what it is and is not permissible with respect to products and royal brand names, WTR understands.

22 February 2011

Governments search for link between innovation and trademarks

The UK government is said to be hard at work searching for the link between trademarks and innovation. In researching the growing debate around this topic, WTR has spoken with the chief economist at the USPTO and former and current chief IP counsel at Nokia, TomTom and Microsoft, some of the world's most innovative companies. But, when asked for comment on this, an official in Britain's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said he couldn’t help.

10 November 2010

Global brands should win in priceless domain name gold rush

The UK domain registry is preparing to auction key terms to owners of identical trademarks as it plans to release appetizing one- and two-character domain names. The likes of BP, British Airways, General Electric and H&M, each known worldwide by their two-letter acronyms, are well positioned to obtain priceless registrations - so long as they are prepared to pay for them.

04 November 2010

IP experts snub trademarks in high-level policy debate

Just a stone's throw from the British parliament building, a stimulating policy debate about the place of intellectual property in the UK economy occurred yesterday. However, trademark owners will be disappointed: although the distinguished panel agreed that intellectual property is key to economic and social prosperity, trademarks and brands were pushed aside. The experts on show gave only a fleeting moment's consideration for brands, which contribute £15 billion to the UK economy and employ one million people, according to the government.

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.

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.

28 April 2010

Difficulties arising from sale of assets to different parties highlighted

In Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation v MG Sports & Racing Europe Ltd, the High Court has decided in favour of Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation in its claim for trademark infringement and passing off against MG Sports & Racing Europe Ltd. Among other things, the court held that since Nanjing was the rightful owner of the MG marks, MG Sports could not have acquired them from MG Rover.