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07 April 2005

NICHOLS sees changes to UK examination practice

Following the ECJ's decision in Nichols plc v Registrar of Trademarks, the UK Trademarks Registry has released a new Practice Amendment Notice relating to the examination of marks comprising surnames, forenames or full names. The registry will abandon the use of "general criteria" and will instead rely upon information about the extent of use of a particular name in a specific sector of the market.

24 March 2005

Protection for JESUS mark refused

The appointed person at the UK Trademarks Registry has upheld a decision to refuse an application under the Madrid Protocol for protection in the United Kingdom of the international mark JESUS. The appointed person held that the mark was contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality, despite the fact that applications for similar marks had succeeded elsewhere in the European Union and at the OHIM.

23 March 2005

Rock band fails in poster mark appeal

The appointed person of the UK Patent and Trademarks Office has upheld a decision to refuse registration of LINKIN PARK (the name of a well-known rock band) as a trademark for "printed matter, posters and poster books". The appointed person held, among other things, that the mark was descriptive as it designated a characteristic of the goods, namely the information content of the goods - the band itself.

14 March 2005

Genuine use obstacle sinks LABORATOIRE DE LA MER mark

In La Mer Technology Inc v Laboratoires Goemar SA, the High Court of England and Wales has revoked the mark LABORATOIRE DE LA MER on the grounds of non-use. The court held that the mark owner's minimal use had not created a share in the market for the goods covered by the mark and thus was not sufficient to maintain rights in the mark.

09 March 2005

Repeat invalidation actions are barred, court rules

In Hormel Foods Corporation v Antilles Landscape Investments NV, the High Court of England and Wales has for the first time barred an attempt to invalidate a trademark through the operation of cause of action estoppel. The court held that as Hormel had failed to prove the invalidity of the defendant's trademark in administrative proceedings, it was barred from attacking the validity of that right in subsequent proceedings.

28 February 2005

Exxon claws its way to victory in 'Tiger' mark cat fight

In Kellogg Company v Exxon Corporation, the UK Trademarks Registry has refused Kellogg Company's opposition to Exxon Corporation's application to register a mark featuring a cartoon depiction of a tiger. It held that there was no likelihood of confusion between the proposed registration and Kellogg's 'Tony the Tiger' device marks because of the significant differences between the goods covered by the marks.

18 February 2005

Decision to revoke LOWDEN guitar mark struck out

The High Court has overturned a UK trademark registrar's decision to revoke the LOWDEN mark for guitars. The court held, among other things, that the registrar should have exercised discretion to hear the trademark owner's opposition to the revocation action, despite the fact that it had been filed out of time and the relevant rules indicate that the registrar does not have the power to extend the time limit for filing.

08 February 2005

Cheese shape mark off the menu through lack of distinctiveness

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the unusual shape of a cheese was not sufficient for the sign to be considered inherently distinctive to allow registration as a mark. The applicant, Bongrain SA, was also unable to establish that the shape had acquired distinctiveness through use. The decision implies that it is unlikely that a mark that consists of the shape of a product itself will ever be considered inherently distinctive.

28 January 2005

Electronic filing requirements clarified

The UK Trademarks Registry has issued General Notice - applying for a trademark electronically, which clarifies electronic filing requirements. There are a variety of methods available, including use of XML files and the PaTrAS data capture facility. The most suitable method for an organization depends on how it prepares its application.

25 January 2005

Innocent mistake in registration is still bad faith

A hearing officer at the UK Trademarks Registry has cancelled the registration of the mark SCIP-R-NOSCO on the grounds that it was made in bad faith because the registered owner of the mark did not exist. Despite the fact that this application error was an innocent mistake, the hearing officer held that the entity identified as the owner could not have had the necessary bona fide intention to use the mark at the time the application was filed.

17 December 2004

Philips's razor mark gets a close shave

In Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV v Remington Consumer Products Ltd, the High Court of England and Wales has ordered the cancellation of Philips's two-dimensional mark for a three-headed razor on the basis of lack of distinctiveness. Philips had brought infringement proceedings against Remington's use of the design of a three-headed electric rotary shaver head.

08 November 2004

EU accession to Madrid Protocol leads to changes to UK law

Following the European Union's accession to the Madrid Protocol on October 1 2004, the United Kingdom has introduced new regulations to protect international registrations that designate the European Union. The new regulations extend the same level of protection to these registrations as to Community trademarks.

22 October 2004

Trademarks Registry releases updated Work Manual

The UK Trademarks Registry has issued a new edition of Chapter 6 of its Work Manual. Although the chapter is officially part of an internal publication for Trademarks Registry staff, it is of relevance to trademark practitioners as it explains the registry's practice and examination procedures.

20 October 2004

Patent Office seeks comments on Community designs proposals

The UK Patent Office has started a formal consultation on certain aspects of the operation of UK legislation relating to Community designs. The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on a number of possibilities for legislation to ensure that the Community designs system works correctly in the United Kingdom.

15 October 2004

Rock band fails to secure trademark rights for posters

A hearing officer at the UK Trademarks Registry has refused an application to register LINKIN PARK (the name of a well-known rock band) as a trademark in respect of "printed matter, posters and poster books". He held that the mark lacked distinctiveness and designated the characteristics of the goods because the band featured on the posters.