IP Law Watch

Legal issues, law and regulations concerning the world of IP.

 

1
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe petition for centiorari denied
2
Webpage specimens not automatically use in commerce
3
Fashion & Food Industry Update: More Companies Adopting Blockchain Solutions
4
Final Approval given to EU Copyright Directive
5
Can the mere registration of company name infringe? In the case of BMW, yes!
6
U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners
7
US: Helpful Guidance From Judge Bryson Regarding Stays Pending IPR
8
Court confirms additional tools for trade mark owners to protect their brand where they operate a selective distribution system in the EU
9
Act on financial support for audiovisual production published in the Journal of Laws
10
If the purple colour may not be subject to the effect of time, trade marks certainly are

Webpage specimens not automatically use in commerce

On April 10, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion, at the request of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), regarding submissions of webpages as specimens of use. In re Siny Corp is an important reminder to applicants and practitioners to carefully consider whether webpage specimens to be submitted to the USPTO actually comprise the offering of goods and/or services at the point of sale, or whether they are mere advertising.

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Fashion & Food Industry Update: More Companies Adopting Blockchain Solutions

While still an emerging technology, more companies are implementing blockchain technology to manage supply chains, track goods, prevent counterfeiting, increase security, and ensure traceability. In a recent survey of global leaders, by auditing and financial services company KPMG, 48% of respondents stated they believe it is highly likely that blockchain will change the way their companies do business over the next three years, and 41% stated their company intends to implement blockchain technology during the next three years.

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Final Approval given to EU Copyright Directive

On 27 March 2019, the European Parliament approved, with a vote of 348 to 274, the new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the “DSM”) which will significantly tighten copyright on the internet.

While the new Directive has been hailed by record labels, artists and media companies as a move to fairly compensate artists, many tech firms like Google and Reddit, and internet activists argue that it will restrict and even destroy user-generated content, with Google stating that it would “harm Europe’s creative and digital industries.”

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Can the mere registration of company name infringe? In the case of BMW, yes!

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.

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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

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[1] – 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.[2]  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.

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US: Helpful Guidance From Judge Bryson Regarding Stays Pending IPR

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.[1] 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.

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Court confirms additional tools for trade mark owners to protect their brand where they operate a selective distribution system in the EU

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.

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Act on financial support for audiovisual production published in the Journal of Laws

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.

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If the purple colour may not be subject to the effect of time, trade marks certainly are

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.

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