On 12 February 2019, car manufacturer (and globally recognised car brand) BMW was granted summary judgment in its claims for passing-off and trade mark infringement against BMW Telecommunications Ltd and Benjamin Michael Whitehouse (the sole director of BMW Telecommunications Ltd). The respondents were a consultancy business providing services for railway signaling and telecommunications.Read More
March 4, 2019, marked the first time in over 100 years that the Supreme Court of the United States issued two copyright decisions in the same day – both unanimous and both strict interpretations of statutory language. In the first of these two decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com that copyright owners must obtain a registration from the U.S. Copyright Office prior to filing an infringement action. The Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, resolved a long-standing circuit split on whether the “application approach” (merely filing a copyright application) or the “registration approach” (obtaining a copyright registration) is sufficient to file a copyright infringement suit under § 411(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976. In the second decision, the Court in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. determined that “full costs” under § 505 of the Copyright Act did not authorize awarding litigation expenses beyond those specified in the general costs statute.
Judge Bryson of the Federal Circuit, sitting by designation in the Eastern District of Texas, issued one of the clearest articulations to date in favor of granting a stay pending inter partes review. Notably, in this case, claim construction had ended, discovery was nearly complete, and trial was set to begin in three months. The defendant, Samsung, had recently joined an instituted IPR covering six of the eleven asserted claims and moved to stay the district court proceeding.
Judge Bryson clearly articulated the three factors that district courts consider when analyzing whether or not to grant a stay:
1) whether the stay will unduly prejudice the non-moving party;
2) whether the proceedings had reached an advance stage, including the stage of discovery and whether a trial date is set; and
3) whether the stay will likely result in simplifying the case before the court.
After noting that the congressional intent of post-grant review before the patent office was to be a “quick and cost effective alternative to litigation” to provide a “faster, less costly alternative to civil litigation to challenge patents” and to be “an inexpensive substitute for district court litigation that allows key issues to be addressed by experts in the field” he proceeded to walk through the three factors.Read More
A recent decision by the Court of Milan found that a trade mark owner who had consented to products being sold in the European Economic Area (EEA), but only through authorised retailers, could make a claim for trade mark infringement where the product was sold by an unauthorised retailer. This case highlights the effectiveness of implementing a selective distribution system for product manufacturers looking for new ways to protect their brand.Read More
An Act on financial support for audiovisual production was published in the Journal of Laws on 10 January 2019. The Polish Film Institute (PISF) will soon provide financial support for the production of audiovisual works created in Poland.Read More
When it comes to non-traditional trade marks in the EU, the requirement of a clear and precise description can be quite complex to put into practice, as demonstrated in the recent UK Court of Appeal decision in Cadbury v The Comptroller General of Patents Designs and Trade Marks.
In 2013, in Cadbury v Nestle, the Court of Appeal held that the graphic representation and the description of the purple mark did not constitute a sign within section 1 of the Trade Marks Act but rather an attempt to register multiple signs with different permutations, presentations and appearances, which are neither graphically represented nor described with any precision.
As a result, Cadbury attempted to amend the (same) description of another of its colour marks, registered in 1998 and now at risk of invalidity as a consequence of the Cadbury v Nestle decision. However, both the Comptroller and the High Court denied Cadbury’s request to amend the mark description.Read More
Although it may be one of the most famous burgers in the world, on 15 January 2019, Supermac’s (Holdings) Ltd was successful in seeking the cancellation of McDonald’s International Property Company Ltd (McDonald’s) EU trade mark registration for BIG MAC for burgers or restaurants.Read More
For the last several years, a major part of prosecuting software-related patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has been dealing with theUSPTO’s inconsistent interpretation of patent subject-matter eligibility issues under 35 U.S.C. § 101 arising from the Supreme Court’s decisions in Alice Corporation Proprietary Ltd. v. CLS Bank Internationaland Mayo Collaborative Services. v.Prometheus Labs. However, new guidance from the USPTO concerning the Alice/Mayo test regarding patent subject-matter eligibility was released for public comment on January 7, 2019. This guidance attempts to provide more examination consistency for entities prosecuting software-related patents. We describe the primary features of the new guidance below and offer insights into what this means for companies pursuing such patents at the USPTO going forward.
“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” – Harry Winston
Welcome to the latest edition of Fashion Law. In this edition we review the Australian Government’s measures to tackle modern slavery, a New Zealand trade mark opposition highlighting the importance of trade mark watching services, superannuation payments for full time, part time or casual workers, protecting brands in international markets, and the changes to parallel importation laws.
The Australian Federal Parliament has been debating the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 5) Bill 2018 (Bill), which seeks to repeal section 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).
The Bill is expected to pass during this session of Parliament (by 6 December 2018). Section 51(3) of the CCA presently provides an exemption from most of the competition law prohibitions for certain types of transactions involving intellectual property (IP). The current exemption covers conditions in licences or assignments of IP rights in patents, registered designs, copyright, trade marks and circuit layouts.
Once passed, commercial transactions involving IP rights will be subject to the same competition laws as all other transactions involving other types of property and assets. The repeal will apply retrospectively but IP owners will have six months to review existing licences and agreements. It is important for brand owners to consider their key licensing arrangements and the possible competitive implications of those arrangements.