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29 November 2011

AG opinion in IP TRANSLATOR: OHIM’s class heading approach is wrong

Advocate General Bot has delivered an opinion in the IP TRANSLATOR case that invalidates OHIM Communication 4/03 regarding class headings. The communication, issued in 2003, supports the ‘class-heading-covers-all’ approach to registration; however the advocate general said today that this approach does not offer sufficient clarity.

19 July 2011

A billion-euro problem: how the EU postal network is the rising threat to brands

Fresh statistics from EU Customs confirm what many brand owners have feared for some time: consumers are buying more and more counterfeits through the mail. EU Customs claims to have seized 48,000 goods from the postal system in 2010, up by a factor of three from 15,000 the year before. Moreover, the authorities claim that seized counterfeits have broken through the billion-euro barrier, leaving brand owners wondering how the problem will be addressed.

18 July 2011

European Commission releases new strategy on IP rights

Considering that the existing mix of European and national rules on IP rights needed to be modernised, the European Commission has set out its blueprint for IP rights to boost creativity and innovation within Europe. The commission released a communication to the European Parliament and other institutions entitled “A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights”.

01 July 2011

The road to EU adoption of ACTA begins here – settle down for a long journey

The process of the European Union adopting and implementing the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement has begun, with the European Commission determining that each individual member state must approve the controversial agreement. One former Member of the European Parliament has said that this could become a “long process”.

16 June 2011

New EU borders regulation to extend protection beyond trademarks

The European Commission’s proposed new regulation concerning customs enforcement of IP rights would extend protection to trade names, topographies and utility models for the first time. “The new regulation will cover more infringements and more rights,” said Caroline Edery, who is heading up the Commission’s review of Regulation 1383 at DG TAXUD. “Presently we cover trademarks and designs, and only counterfeit products. Now we will cover all the infringements of trademarks and designs. And we’ll include other infringements, such as parallel trade and overruns.”

10 June 2011

Did the MPI “chicken out” of addressing the genuine use CTM issue?

ECTA has expressed one of the strongest criticisms of the Max Planck Institute European trademark system study to date, saying that the institute was not brave enough to clean up the genuine use question. The barb came during ECTA’s annual conference, where rumours circulated that, before publishing their study, the MPI authors may have changed their original recommendation after learning that the Commission did not like it.

31 May 2011

Commission consults with CTM users, aims for autumn deadline

How do you look for something that you don’t know how to detect? The question over whether the CTM register has become cluttered is now at stalemate. While it was among the topics that the European Commission discussed with user groups last week in light of the publication of the European trademark study (in the very same room where the 2008 Compromise Solution was negotiated), it is not clear how on earth the Commission is expected to make sense of the issue.

04 April 2011

EU trademark users gear up to tackle proposed co-existence model

The proposed co-existence of a CTM and a younger national mark appears to be exciting users of the European trademark system. They will meet tomorrow to discuss this controversial recommendation of the Max Planck Institute, made in its recently published study. The meeting, set to carry discussion on several facets of the study, will bring together brand owners, academics, attorneys and IP office representatives.

10 March 2011

The two most controversial proposals of the EU trademark study

As the dust settles since all 290 pages of the EU trademark study landed on Europeans’ desks earlier this week, discussion of the most controversial proposals is emerging. One could see national offices involved in the examination of CTM applications, while another recommends coexistence between a CTM and a “remote” national mark. To gauge reaction to these ideas, WTR has spoken to the study’s co-authors, CTM users and national offices.

08 March 2011

Study recommends a tighter system for trademarks in the EU

Trademarks in the European Union just got a little more European. The Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law today published its Study on the Overall Functioning of the European Trademark System. And it appears at first glance that the recommendations are underpinned by pro-European Union characteristics, such as greater harmonisation and cooperation.

01 December 2010

Onel litigant hopes to set ECJ questions before the year is out

The Court of the Hague has constructed a set of negotiable questions to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Union in the controversial Onel case, with Onel Trademark's lead litigant telling WTR that he hopes parties will finalise the questions before the end of the year.

08 November 2010

National offices outline cooperation fund hopes and dreams

Last month, OHIM wrote to Community trademark (CTM) owners to detail progress with the cooperation fund projects, naming the latest projects to have gained approval. These include such cornerstones of the cooperation initiative as databases for seniority and similar goods and services. WTR asked the most needy offices which projects will be of most use to them - and here are their answers.

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.

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.

21 June 2010

WTR briefed by researchers on EU trademark study

Who would have thought that trademark owners are a diverse bunch with divergent opinions? That is one of the more fascinating trends emerging from the study into the European trademark system. So it was pleasing to hear the researchers from the Max Planck Institute who are conducting the study acknowledge this when I met two of them earlier today. Roland Knaak, head of the research team, told me: "It is interesting for us to see the divergent opinions and positions of some of the user associations. Many have quite different opinions, for example, on the question of how further harmonization should be achieved."