Archive: 2019

1
To 3D, or not to 3D, that is the question: Another twist in the Rubik’s Cube and its EU trade mark protection
2
In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry
3
Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision
4
Music to our ears: some clarity on joint authorship of copyright
5
Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”
6
Style is everything, but style names aren’t “trade marks”
7
UKIPO knocks undefeated Reds off their perch – The LIVERPOOL trade mark and lessons for brand owners
8
A Win is a Win!
9
Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
10
Trade mark re-filing and bad faith – Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200

To 3D, or not to 3D, that is the question: Another twist in the Rubik’s Cube and its EU trade mark protection

The long running and highly publicised Rubik’s cube case has taken another twist. On 24 October 2019, the EU General Court confirmed the cancellation of the EU trade mark for the 3D shape. The mark was cancelled because its essential characteristics were deemed necessary for its technical function (i.e. the shape’s ability to rotate).

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In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis is a rapidly evolving field with 33 states and the District of Columbia having passed laws broadly legalizing some form of medicinal or recreational use. Of those states, eleven and the District of Columbia have adopted the broadest form of legalization: recreational use. General trends of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis, at the state level, may encourage future legalization at the federal level as well. As with any other high-growth opportunity, business investment in cannabis is on the rise, and intellectual property is a vital concern. Below are five intellectual property takeaways to consider for cannabis-related endeavors.

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Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision

In a Halloween decision, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. et al., an appeal from IPR2017-00275. Without wading into the technical merits of the decision, the three judge panel of Judges Moore, Reyna, and Chen, issued a decision that, at first glance, sent tremors through those who practice before the PTAB in AIA-based post-grant review proceedings: finding the appointment of PTAB judges unconstitutional.

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Music to our ears: some clarity on joint authorship of copyright

In the recent decision of the case Kogan v Martin, the UK Court of Appeal overturned an Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) decision and identified a new test for determining when contribution is sufficient to be recognised as a joint author of a copyright work.

The case has now been remitted for a retrial before a different judge, due to the judge of first instance adopting an erroneous approach to the evidence and applying incorrect legal standards.

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Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”

On 16 October 2019, Advocate General Tanchev of the CJEU has issued his opinion in Sky v SkyKick one of the most intriguing trade mark cases at the moment which will likely have a significant impact on EU trade mark law. Crucially the AG has advised that:

  1. “registration of a trade mark for ‘computer software’ is unjustified and contrary to the public interest” because it confers on the proprietor a “monopoly of immense breadth which cannot be justified”, and it lacks sufficient clarity and precision; and
  2. trade mark registrations made with no intention to use, in relation to the specified goods and services, may constitute bad faith.
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Style is everything, but style names aren’t “trade marks”

Pinnacle Runway Pty Ltd v Triangl Limited [2019] FCA 1662

In a recent decision commenced by Pinnacle Runway against well-known swimwear brand Triangl, the Federal Court has chastised the parties involved for partaking in so called “ill-advised proceedings”. The Court also confirmed that use of a word as a style name to differentiate between product lines will not amount to use as a trade mark so as to constitute trade mark infringement.

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UKIPO knocks undefeated Reds off their perch – The LIVERPOOL trade mark and lessons for brand owners

To the interest of many a scouser and football fan alike, Liverpool Football Club’s attempt to register as a UK trademark LIVERPOOL has been rejected by the UKIPO on the grounds that the word is of “geographical significance” to the city. Liverpool FC had filed its application in regards to various goods in relation to football and the filing had attracted significant public attention.

Other English football clubs (Everton, Chelsea and Tottenham) have managed to register several trade marks for each of their respective area names. In addition Southampton Football Club has managed to register SOUTHAMPTON as an EU trade mark. As a result, it is not surprising that Liverpool FC would seek to register a similar mark to help protect its valuable brand.

However, as a result of the filing the club received significant backlash from the people of Liverpool, including their own supporters, and – probably in a related move – Liverpool FC has said that it does not plan to appeal the refusal and it has withdrawn the application. An additional trade mark application for LIVERPOOL with different claims has also been withdrawn.

The matter presents a great case study for brand owners on balancing the need to protect their brand whilst being considerate of the potential adverse PR that will come with the application for certain trade marks.

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A Win is a Win!

B.E. Technology LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Appeal No. 18-2356 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 9, 2019) identifies what it means to win in a case.  More particularly, the Federal Circuit explained how to determine whether a party is “the prevailing party.”  B.E. Technology (“B.E.”) brought a patent infringement suit in district court against Facebook and the case was stayed pending inter partes review.  The Patent Trial and Appeal Board ultimately held the claims of the patent in question to be unpatentable, which was confirmed on appeal.

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Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation

Mayo Foundation v. Iancu reads more like an arithmetic problem than a Federal Circuit decision. The reason is the case involves the Patent Term Adjustment Act (PTA) (see 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)). PTA determinations require calculating how many days of delay, from the effective filing date to the Notice of Allowance, are attributable to the applicant and how many to the PTO. Under one PTA scenario, the applicant is entitled to an adjusted term, recovering every day the application is pending beyond three years past the effective filing date for the balance of delay attributable to the PTO. This is called a “B Delay” (§154(b)1)(B)). However, the B Delay is subject to several exclusions. The disputed exclusion in Mayo concerned a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) of the application, which Mayo filed before the PTO declared an interference. 

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Trade mark re-filing and bad faith – Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200

Hasbro Inc. (Hasbro), owner of the well-loved board game Monopoly, suffered a defeat on 22 July 2019, before the EUIPO Board of Appeal in relation to the MONOPOLY trade mark. The EU registration for the MONOPOLY trade mark was partially invalidated as it was found that Hasbro had acted in bad faith when filing the application as part of a ‘trade mark re-filing’ programme.

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