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20 April 2004

Court of Appeal hits the roof in design case

The Court of Appeal has found that a designer of components for conservatory roofs held design rights in the components "on trust" for the various companies of which he was a controlling shareholder. This is in spite of the fact that he was neither employed by, nor commissioned to create the designs for, the companies.

07 April 2004

New trademark rules get the go-ahead

The UK Patent Office has decided to press ahead with the implementation of new trademark rules following feedback from its formal consultation on the proposals. The Trademark (Amendment) Rules 2004 will come into force on May 5 2004 with the aim of helping small and medium-sized enterprises obtain and protect registered trademarks more effectively and at less cost.

25 March 2004

Trademarks Registry hard on BI-AGRA

In Pfizer Inc v Glenside Organics Ltd, a hearing officer at the UK Trademarks Registry has upheld Pfizer's opposition to the registration of the mark BI-AGRA for various agricultural products and chemicals. The hearing officer held that the proposed registration was confusingly similar to Pfizer's well-known VIAGRA mark and emphasized the importance that aural similarity can play where goods are ordered by telephone.

19 March 2004

MEZZACORONA wine mark not in breach of EU regulation

The Court of Appeal has upheld the registration of the MEZZACORONA mark for wines. It found that the mark complied with the EU regulation on the description of wines and thus could not be opposed on the basis of Section 3(4) of the Trademarks Act 1994, which precludes the registration of a mark if its use is prohibited by any provision of EU law.

09 March 2004

New practice for partnerships issued by Trademark Registry

The UK Trademark Registry has issued a notice setting out its new practice of allowing a partnership to be recorded as an applicant for, or proprietor of, a trademark. The registry's previous practice in such cases was only to record the partnership if it was a corporate body, or if some or all partners were listed.

01 March 2004

High Court finds a hole in Polo mint shape mark proposal

In Mars UK Ltd v Société des Produits Nestlé SA, the UK High Court has confirmed that the implementation of the Trademarks Act 1994 has limited the possibility of altering a trademark midway through an application. In so doing, it overturned a hearing officer's proposals that were intended to make Nestlé's shape mark for its Polo brand of mint candy more distinctive.

27 February 2004

DOUBLEMINT brings practice change at UK registry

To reflect the ECJ's ruling in DOUBLEMINT, the UK Trademark Registry has produced a practice amendment notice that sets out the approach UK examiners will take when considering whether to refuse registration on the grounds that a mark consists exclusively of signs designating a characteristic of the goods or services for which registration is sought.

23 February 2004

NELLIE THE ELEPHANT sent packing by Trademarks Registry

The UK Trademarks Registry has refused to allow an application to invalidate the trademark NELLIE THE ELEPHANT, filed by the owner of the copyright in the song "Nellie the Elephant", on the grounds that copyright did not subsist in the song title alone. However, the registry upheld a separate claim for revocation of the mark on the grounds of non-use.

28 January 2004

easyGroup and Orange marks not identical

The UK Trademarks Registry has rejected an opposition to the registration of a series of marks featuring words prefixed by the term 'easy' on an orange background. It held that although the opponent - the mobile phone operator Orange - owns a registration for a particular shade of orange, the marks were not identical because the words prefixed with the term 'easy' were significant additions.

21 January 2004

United Kingdom accedes to Locarno Agreement

The United Kingdom has acceded to the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs. The agreement forms a special union of countries that have adopted a single classification for industrial designs. The United Kingdom is the forty-third country to accede to the agreement, joining countries ranging from Austria to Uruguay.

16 January 2004

DUPONT registration stretches to clothing

In EI Du Pont De Nemours & Company v ST Dupont, the Court of Appeal has dismissed the defendant's opposition to the registration of DUPONT for clothing. It rejected the defendant's claim that DUPONT was not distinctive as it is a common surname in France, stating that the key question was whether DUPONT was capable of distinguishing the relevant goods in the United Kingdom.

13 January 2004

No intention to use mark when filing equals bad faith

In Ferrero SpA v Soldan Holding & Bonbonspezialitaten GmbH, David Kitchin - an appointed person of the UK Patent and Trademark Office - has upheld the hearing officer's decision to invalidate five of Ferrero's KINDER trademark registrations on the grounds that Ferrero did not have any intention of using them at the time of application.

02 December 2003

Virgin successfully opposes diluting VIRGIN OIL mark

In Virgin Enterprises v Virgin Oil Limited, the UK Patent and Trademark Office has upheld Virgin Enterprises' opposition to the registration of the mark VIRGIN OIL on the grounds that it was likely to be confused with the famous VIRGIN mark and would dilute it. The hearing officer considered that Virgin Oil did not have due cause to use the mark.

19 November 2003

'Clothing' is fair description of ANIMAL goods

In H Young (Operations) Limited v Medici Limited, the UK High Court has refused the defendant's claim for partial revocation of the mark ANIMAL. It also ruled that the plaintiff's use of the term 'clothing' as a specification of goods covered by the mark is a fair description, not requiring qualification in any way, despite the fact that use of the mark was confined to surfwear of a casual type.

14 November 2003

Patent Office issues practice notice on registration of designs

The UK Patent Office has issued a practice notice that outlines how examiners are to apply the restrictions on the registration of functional designs in light of the European Court of Justice's decision in the Philips Case. The test for a functional design appears to be whether the technical function dictates the appearance of the product to the extent that there is no design freedom.