Archive: 2019

1
Music to our ears: some clarity on joint authorship of copyright
2
Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”
3
Style is everything, but style names aren’t “trade marks”
4
UKIPO knocks undefeated Reds off their perch – The LIVERPOOL trade mark and lessons for brand owners
5
A Win is a Win!
6
Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
7
Trade mark re-filing and bad faith – Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200
8
The Claridge’s Affair: A win, but at what cost?
9
Bronze, Shape, Glow: A copyright tale destined for Broadway
10
IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

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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The Claridge’s Affair: A win, but at what cost?

Claridge’s Hotel Limited (Claridge’s) recently succeeded in challenging in IPEC the use of the CLARIDGE name by Claridge Candles Limited (Claridge Candles) – a small one-person business.

However, the success came at with a cost for the world renowned hotel as in doing so it lost one trade mark registration entirely and had a second mark reduced in scope due to a non-use counterclaim, highlighting one of the risks of instituting trade mark infringement action.

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Bronze, Shape, Glow: A copyright tale destined for Broadway

Stores like Aldi are increasingly popular with UK consumers as a result of offering “copycat” products of well-known brands at drastically lower prices. However, with this rise in popularity, brand owners and creatives are being increasingly frustrated by finding their products and ideas at the mercy of imitation products.

One such aggrieved party was well known makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury (Tilbury), who found their “Starburst” lid design and the “Powder Design” of their “Filmstar Bronze and Glow” set had provided the ‘inspiration’ for Aldi’s own “Broadway Shape and Glow” set. Tilbury filled a UK High Court claim for copyright infringement over the products shown below, with Aldi adamantly rejecting that any copyright had been infringed in their ‘inspired’ makeup set.

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IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

In a notable, albeit not surprising, U.S. Federal Circuit decision today, the panel in Celgene Corp. v. Peter confirmed that an inter partes review finding of unpatentability of a pre-AIA patent is not an unconstitutional taking. (slip op. 2018-1171 (July 30, 2019)).

Noting an opening in the recent Supreme Court decision in Oil States, the Federal Circuit deemed the circumstances exceptional as their basis for review of an issue not before the PTAB in the underlying proceeding. The panel reasoned that the proceeding being “curative” in nature, and the approximately forty year period of time in which PTAB proceedings have existed subjecting granted patents to potential cancellations for that duration weighted against any unconstitutionality.

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