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10 November 2003

Patent Office opens consultation period on changes to trademark rules

The UK Patent Office has issued a consultation paper and opened a formal consultation period on its proposed changes to the rules relating to, among other things, (i) oppositions to trademark registrations, and (ii) the opposition fee structure.

21 October 2003

Breakthrough in HAVE A BREAK Case awaited

Before ruling on the HAVE A BREAK Case, the UK Court of Appeal has referred to the ECJ the question of whether the use of a mark in conjunction with, or as part of, another mark may be considered as evidence of acquired distinctiveness. The ECJ's interpretation of this issue is keenly awaited as it will affect the registrability of most unconventional marks.

02 October 2003

Costs should be considered before referring cases to the High Court

In Emanuel v Continental Shelf 128 Ltd, an appointed person of the UK Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that the decision whether to refer an appeal to the High Court following a request from one of the party's involved should reflect the financial standing of the party not requesting the reference.

24 September 2003

Lack of reliance on colour precludes registration for oil mark

In Fuchs Lubricants (UK) plc v Alexander Duckham & Co Limited, the Patent and Trademark Office has rejected the registration of green as a colour mark for motor oil. The hearing officer held that the applicant, Duckhams, had failed to establish that the colour mark had acquired distinctiveness through use.

12 September 2003

Associated Newspapers keeps exclusive right to MAIL newspapers

The High Court has issued an injunction restraining Express Newspapers from using the titles Evening Mail and London Evening Mail for its proposed free newspaper. The court held that use of these titles would (i) infringe the plaintiff Associated Newspaper's rights in its THE MAIL, DAILY MAIL or THE MAIL ON SUNDAY marks, and (ii) amount to passing off.

31 July 2003

Triple victory for SMIRNOFF in invalidity cases

The High Court has issued three decisions in favour of US drinks company Diageo, which (i) reject a bad-faith challenge against its SMIRNOFF registrations for vodka, and (ii) establish that a third party may not register a well-known mark in a different script, even for different goods.

15 July 2003

No change to trademark examination system until 2006

Some 18 months after the closure of a consultation period on a paper entitled Future of Official Examination on Relative Grounds, the UK Patent Office has announced its plans for the trademark examination system. As a result of the response to the review, it will be maintaining the current system for examining trademark applications until at least 2006.

03 July 2003

ECJ asked to clear up 'distinctiveness' in Dyson registration

In Dyson Limited v Registrar of Trademarks, the High Court has referred a question to the ECJ seeking guidance as to whether the monopoly use of a sign that identifies a particular trader's goods can create the necessary degree of distinctiveness required for registration as a trademark, even where the sign has not previously been promoted as a mark.

01 July 2003

Registry changes examination practice for trademark series

The UK Trademark Registry has published a notice setting out its new practice of examining applications to register a series of trademarks in a single procedure. Marks that include numerals, common misspellings or domain name suffixes, among other things, may be considered a series as long as the differences do not affect the marks' overall identity.

11 June 2003

New rules govern appeals in intellectual property proceedings

The Civil Procedure (Amendment 2) Rules have come into force. The rules introduce into the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 a new Part 63 - entitled "Patents and other Intellectual Property Claims" - which sets out new time limits for appeal periods and for extensions of time for appeal applications.

14 May 2003

Wrestling federation licensee allowed to sell WWF branded videogames

In World Wide Fund for Nature v World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc, the Court of Appeal has ruled that certain classic videogames of World Wrestling Federation performers can be sold by licensee THQ/Jakks Pacific LLC - a blow to efforts by the World Wide Fund for Nature, which had stopped the sale of the games through lower court legal action.

15 April 2003

Gerber court rules on meaning of 'bona fide use'

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision ruling that the registration of the mark GERBER may not be cancelled, even though the mark had only been used during a limited marketing exercise over a period of five years. 'Bona fide use', ruled the court, means honest use under the Trademarks Act 1938, not use on a substantial scale.

19 March 2003

BABY-DRY approved in bitter beer battle

In West v Fuller Smith & Turner plc, the Court of Appeal has approved the limitation of Fuller's registration of the trademark ESB for beers so that it covers only bitter beers. The decision also marks an important UK confirmation of the European Court of Justice's findings in the BABY-DRY Case.

13 March 2003

Nestlé can't have a break

In Société des Produits Nestlé SA v Mars UK Ltd, the High Court has upheld the Trademark Registry's opposition to the registration by Nestlé of the trademark HAVE A BREAK. The court found that the mark has not acquired a distinctive character through use.

28 February 2003

Anheuser-Busch fails to revoke Budvar trademarks

In Budejovicky Budvar Narodni Podnik v Anheuser-Busch Inc, the Court of Appeal has upheld two UK trademark registrations for stylized versions of the words 'Budweiser Budbräu' and 'Bud' belonging to Czech brewers Budejovicky Budvar. US brewers Anheuser-Busch had applied to revoke the trademarks for non-use.