In newly issued court proceedings, the makers of Toblerone have become the latest confectionary manufacturers to seek to protect the shape of their product via 3D trade mark registrations. Following the recent difficulties Nestlé faced in registering the shape of their Kit-Kat bar, Mondelez have commenced proceedings against Poundland in relation to their newly announced Twin Peaks bar. Twin Peaks bears more than a passing resemblance to a Toblerone, except that each chunk of chocolate features two peaks rather than one.
It’s game, set, match for Adidas when it comes to the protectable trade dress in its iconic Stan Smith tennis shoe. In a dispute between Adidas and Skechers over the “Skecherizing” of the Stan Smith shoe, the District Court for the District of Oregon denied Skechers’ motion for summary judgment finding that Adidas could show it has protectable trade dress in its well-known shoe design because the design was recognizable to consumers and not functional. Adidas America Inc. et al. v. Skechers USA Inc., D. Or (August 3, 2017) (order granting in part and denying in part motion for summary judgment).
The United Kingdom’s new Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017 (the Act) was recently granted royal assent and is set to come into force in October 2017. The Act should make it easier to advise clients, avoid litigation and facilitate the negotiation of settlements by outlining what types of threats are unjustified. The Act will also harmonise the UK law on unjustified threats across patents, trade marks and design rights.
Currently, the law allows those accused of infringing intellectual property to sue for damages if threats of legal action against them are revealed to be groundless. This can lead to rights-holders becoming wary of challenging perceived threats to their intellectual property because they do not want to risk their threats being perceived as groundless and, as a result, do not exercise full protection of their intellectual property rights.
On 15 February 2010, the company M/S. Indeutsch International (Applicant) filed figurative EU trademark:
for “knitting needles” and “crochet hooks” belonging to the 26th class of the Nice Classification. EUIPO registered the aforementioned mark, however an application for declaration of invalidity of the trademark in question was filed on the basis of the lack of distinctive character of the registered sign.
On July 25, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent Eligible Subject Matter: Report on Views and Recommendations From the Public (Report). The Report summarizes public comments on the state of subject matter eligibility law. Comments came from varied sources including industry, private practice, academia, trade associations, inventors, and small business.
After beginning with an overview of eligibility law in the U.S. and abroad, the Report summarizes the comments supportive and critical of the Supreme Court’s Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice decisions regarding subject matter eligibility. It polls opinions from the two most-impacted technology sectors, and reviews recommendations on how to move forward.
On 26 July 2017, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice issued a very interesting opinion of benefit to the owners of exclusive brands. The dispute the opinion addresses has been going on for many years between the companies Coty German GmbH (“Coty”) – a leading supplier of luxury cosmetic products in Germany – and Parfümerie Akzente GmbH (“Parfümerie Akzente”) – an authorized distributor of those products. It concerns the possibility of a supplier prohibiting authorized entities involved in further selling in a selective distribution system from using unauthorized third companies.
The EU Court of Justice will have to consider whether, and within what scope, selective distribution systems for luxury and prestige items that primarily ensure the “luxury image” of those goods constitute an element of competition pursuant to Article 101 par. 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
On 25 May 2018, the provisions of the general Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) 2016/670 of 27 April 27 2016, on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) will enter into force. The changes are many.
The 10 May 2017 draft act of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, amending certain acts in order to improve the legal environment for innovative activities, provided for the introduction of changes in the scope within which authors can be represented before the Polish Patent Office (PPO). The draft stipulated that, in cases related to submitting and considering applications and maintaining protection over inventions, medicinal products, plant protection products, utility designs, industrial designs, geographic signs and integrated circuit topography, attorneys in Poland (adwokat and radca prawny, hereinafter “advocate” and “legal advisor”) would also be able to represent the parties involved – previously, in such cases only patent attorneys or persons providing cross-border services in the meaning of the Act on Patent Attorneys of 11 April 2001 had been able to represent parties.
Louis Vuitton recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit ruling that certain handbags are fair-use parodies of Louis Vuitton products, and therefore do not give rise to liability for trademark dilution by blurring. In its petition, Louis Vuitton contends there is a split of authority between the Second and Fourth Circuits regarding parody as a fair-use defense to dilution.
Louis Vuitton is the owner of famous trademarks “that immediately bring… to mind Louis Vuitton as the sole source of handbags and other stylish, high-quality goods bearing its marks.” My Other Bag, Inc. offers handbags with images of Louis Vuitton’s famous marks reproduced on one side, and the phrase “My other bag” inscribed on the back.