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21 November 2017

A prickly case – ECJ upholds opposition against CACTUS mark

The EU Intellectual Property Office has appealed a decision concerning two opposing marks containing the word 'cactus', based on a likelihood of confusion. The European Court of Justice considered whether a previous case regarding specificity of goods and services covered by trademark applications applied retrospectively, and whether use of the device aspect of an earlier mark alone could constitute genuine use of the earlier mark and thus fall within the regulation.

13 November 2017

Is parody funny? No, not if it’s done in bad faith

A hearing officer has deemed that filing of applications to support a potential parodying form of use against a competitor falls short of the standards of acceptable commercial behaviour.

16 October 2017

Checked pattern held to be well-known trademark

In an unusual trademark case concerning a blue-and-white checked pattern used on bed linen, the Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court has ruled in favour of Hästens Sengar AB, which sued the Nordicform group of companies for infringement. The court held that the pattern had acquired distinctiveness through use and the relevant consumers were expected to show a high degree of attention due to the character and price of Hästens beds.

11 December 2017

Trademark litigant must produce documents held by foreign subsidiary

A US district court has held that Republic Technologies (NA), LLC could be compelled to produce documents located in France if they were relevant and within Republic’s control with regard to a declaratory judgment action against competing cigarette paper manufacturer HBI International. However, the court limited production to those documents that were used in or revealed the design process for products marketed and sold by Republic in the United States.

04 September 2017

Hindustan Unilever triumphs in slander of goods case

In Hindustan Unilever Limited v Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, the Bombay High Court recently held that an action for disparagement of a plaintiff’s product can be sustained even if the advertisement is directed towards an entire class of products within which a complaining plaintiff’s product falls.

03 May 2017

High Court determines appeal against refusal of SOVEREIGN trademark

The recently dismissed appeal against a hearing officer's decision to refuse the registration of the mark SOVEREIGN in respect of "gold commemorative coins" is a reminder that the threshold for success on appeal from a hearing officer – whether to the appointed person or the High Court – is high.

16 January 2017

Fitbit sues reseller for selling ‘counterfeits’; defendant claims ‘harassment’

Exercise tracking technology company Fitbit has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey business which sells discontinued and refurbished products to consumers. In the suit, Fitbit claims the defendant sold ‘counterfeit’ and ‘non-genuine’ versions of Fitbit products – a claim staunchly denied, with a representative telling World Trademark Review that Fitbit is engaging in “litigious scare tactics” in response to a lawsuit it had filed a month previously.

07 March 2017

Both parties in cross-opposition proceedings found to have some rights in LUCKY TEA

In cross-opposition proceedings concerning the mark LUCKY TEA, the hearing officer has found that each party had some rights: Mariages Frères owned the earlier rights for household goods in Class 21 and tea and tea-based products in Class 30, while TWG Tea Company had the earlier rights for other foodstuffs in Class 30, including spices, sugar and bread. The case is a reminder of how important it is to file trademark applications to secure the earliest possible filing date.

10 February 2017

Alibaba calls out persistent IP abusers – receives criticism for "blaming the victims" (updated)

Alibaba Group has taken a hard line against users that file false or misleading IP infringement complaints, claiming that 24% of all complaints it receives are deemed “malicious” and “a drain on the group’s efforts to stamp out counterfeits”. Highlighting its strong stance on the matter, it confirmed it had barred one company from lodging complaints due to repeated misuses of its complaints platform. However, one commentator claims that the problem is of the ecommerce giant’s own making.

18 April 2017

Use of EUTM by third party may constitute genuine use even where proprietor's consent must be deduced

In Windrush AKA LLP v EUIPO, the General Court has upheld a decision of the First Board of Appeal of the EUIPO in which the latter had found that there was genuine use of the mark THE SPECIALS for CDs. The court found that the board had rightly deduced that there was consent on the part of the trademark owner – the founder of UK band The Specials – to use of the mark by a record company.

10 April 2017

Co-branding: did the High Court in Samsonite get its description right?

In Samsonite IP Holdings Sarl v An Sheng Trading Pte Ltd, the High Court has considered whether the parallel importation of backpacks bearing the trademark SAMSONITE into Singapore, as part of what was called a co-branding agreement, was permitted under the doctrine of exhaustion of rights.

07 October 2016

Trademark associations should take ‘less dogmatic approach’ to plain packaging, expert urges

A panel of trademark experts have written what is claimed to be the first full-length legal and policy analysis of the IP aspects of regulatory measures affecting the packaging of certain health-related goods. Talking to World Trademark Review, a co-author of the work says that the tobacco industry’s fight against plain packaging is on the verge of defeat, and that IP associations must rethink their lobbying approach against similar measures.

03 October 2016

EU customs seizures skyrocketed in 2015; concerns raised that counterfeit issue being ‘massively underestimated’

The European Commission’s latest annual report into EU customs enforcement has found that the level of suspected counterfeit articles detained by authorities rose by 15% year-on-year, with the number of applications for action up by a startling 59% across the same time period. While the estimated value of the detailed articles totals nearly €650 million, one expert claims the report could be massively underestimating the scope of the problem.

10 November 2016

ECJ delivers blow to Rubik’s Cube; fears raised that decision paves the way for increased counterfeits

The European Court of Justice has handed down its long-awaited decision on the Rubik’s Cube 3D mark, annulling the EU Intellectual Property Office decision which confirmed registration of the shape in question as an EU trademark. The company has characterised today’s decision as “a damaging precedent”; while one legal commentator, who regards the decision as “bad news” for both brand owners and consumers, warns that it could pave the way for an increase in knock-offs and counterfeits on the market.

16 June 2016

Boost for tobacco brands as poll confirms consumer fears over counterfeit impact of plain packaging

One of the arguments made against the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products is that the absence of branding would exacerbate the problem of counterfeiting, with potentially unsafe products becoming more accessible. As Malaysia lays the groundwork for a plain packaging regime, a recent poll of Malaysian consumers would seem to support that concern.