On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., 591 U.S. ___ (2020) that “Booking.com” is eligible for trademark registration because consumers do not perceive “Booking.com” as a generic name. The 8-1 decision written by Justice Ginsburg rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s argument that when a generic term is combined with a generic Internet-domain-name suffix like “.com,” the resulting combination is necessarily generic, noting that such an unyielding legal rule that entirely disregards consumer perception is incompatible with the Lanham Act.Read More
On 11 June 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down its decision in the referral from the Belgium Companies Court (Tribunal de l’entreprise de Liège) arising from copyright infringement proceedings by Brompton Bicycle Ltd (Brompton) against a Korean company Get2Get Chedech (Get2Get) relating to its folding bike.
The decision is good news for designers and creative businesses as it lays a foundation for new opportunities for copyright protection and enforcement in Europe. This evolving area of law now requires a low threshold for protection, with a suggestion from the CJEU that minor creative choices in products will be sufficient for a finding of copyright protection.Read More
In-N-Out Burgers, Inc v Hashtag Burgers Pty Ltd  FCA 193
Sydney burger chain Down N’ Out is looking to appeal Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann’s ruling in a case brought by American fast food giant In-N-Out Burgers, Inc. (In-N-Out). In her decision handed down earlier this year, Justice Katzmann found that Down N’ Out infringed In-N-Out’s registered trade marks and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off. At a hearing last week, her Honour made declarations regarding Down N’ Out’s infringing conduct and granted Down N’ Out leave to appeal the orders. The determination of compensation will take place after any appeal.Read More
The Italian Supreme Court decision on the KIKO case (Cass. 780/2020) is the most recent judgement made in the wake of the Cofemel decision (case C-683/17) and follows the UK IPEC decision in Response Clothing (click here for our previous blog post).
In this latest development, KIKO S.p.a, a well-known make-up store was able to secure copyright protection for its signature store layout, made of its open space entrance with digital screens, the white/black/pink/purple color combination, the disco lighting effects, the size, proportions, materials and position of furniture.Read More
On May 18, 2020, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a statement regarding concerns of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Safe Harbor programs. Sparked by the ouster of the mobile gaming player, Miniclip S.A., from the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s (CARU) Safe Harbor program, the FTC announced action against Miniclip to order the cessation of its alleged misrepresentations regarding Miniclip’s participation in the self-regulatory program. A proposed settlement Consent Order was agreed and will published in the Federal Register for public comment shortly.Read More
We increasingly hear about “brand value” along with figures and suggested strategies to assist brands in difficult times.
In Italy new provisions have been approved to recognise the value of the so called historical trade marks (ie. marchio storico). To be clear, these provisions are not related to COVID-19 economic measures aiming to boost the Italian economy. They have been in the agenda for quite some time with the aim of promoting the Made in Italy and increase the value of Italian brands abroad. However, they can be considered as additional measures available to companies in such challenging times.Read More
Fashion mogul and former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham has lost the first round of a trade mark battle with Australian skincare brand, VB Skinlab, in relation to two of VB Skinlab’s pending Australian trade mark applications for the “VB” brand filed in March 2018. A full copy of the decision can be found here.Read More
In its recent judgment (Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability)  FCA 535), the Federal Court of Australia has found that an American electronic musical duo copied the celebrated Australian disco song ‘Love Is In The Air’. The decision confirms that the sound of lyrics as sung forms part of a musical work. Furthermore, a short sung lyric with attending music can be the ‘essential air’ of a song.
While determining only “modest” levels of copyright infringement occurred and dismissing most claims for damages, Justice Perram described the copying as “flagrant” and indicated there will be a further hearing to assess damages.Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that brand owners are not required to prove willful intent before obtaining a defendant’s lost profits. On April 23, 2020, the Supreme Court resolved a longstanding circuit split and unanimously held that trademark infringers may have to hand over their profits even if they did not willfully infringe.
In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc., the Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the rule that a plaintiff can win a profit remedy only after showing a defendant willfully infringed its trademark can be reconciled with the statute’s plain language. Ultimately, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, Romag Fasteners (Romag), holding that:
“[a] plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award.”
After the CJEU’s ruling earlier this year (as discussed here), the Sky v Skykick case has now returned to the English High Court and Lord Justice Arnold on 29 April 2020 issued a final judgment in the case (see full text of the judgment here).
Although Sky’s trade marks were found to be partially invalid on the ground that they were applied for in bad faith, Sky was still ultimately successful in establishing infringement.Read More