Category: Consumer & Retail

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Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats
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What an awful racket… Acoustic product trade mark case provides opportunity for brands being piggy-backed to drive search traffic
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Protecting Animated Logos – LA28 Ushers In A New Era
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Are Valentino’s Rockstud® Shoes as Distinctive as the Red Soles?
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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name
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Down N’ Out – Down on their luck
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“I wanna really really really wanna… take you to court.” VB trade mark dispute heads to the Federal Circuit Court in Australia
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Kraft v Bega: Australian appeal court decision reaffirms the perils of relying on unregistered trade mark rights
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Who Owns an Athlete’s Tattoos? The Player? The Tattoo Artist? A Licensor?
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Trademark infringement case update: Lucky Brands Dungarees v Marcel Fashion Group

Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats

On 19 November 2020, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) in the UK handed down its judgment in the case of Freddy SPA v Hugz Clothing Ltd & Ors [2020] EWHC 3032, which ran for an unusually long time for the IPEC (three days).

The decision was a rare occurrence of a passing off claim, together with other IP causes of action, succeeding in the get-up of a functional item, being “bum enhancing jeans”. Ordinarily, such cases, particularly with respect to fashion items, fail as the get-up is seen as merely design elements or ornamental, or the circumstances of the use lead to a conclusion that other trade marks (e.g. brand names and logos) dominate consumer perception.

This case could embolden brand owners in relation to enforcement of the look and feel of their clothing as it creates the possibility of confusion ‘post-sale’ in addition to the point of sale.

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What an awful racket… Acoustic product trade mark case provides opportunity for brands being piggy-backed to drive search traffic

An interesting recent decision by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) on an unusual set of facts may provide an opportunity for brand owners to prevent unauthorised third parties from piggy-backing off a trade mark to drive traffic to their competing sites or product offerings. Uniquely, this has been found in circumstances which do not amount to traditional “bait and switch” or passing off and where consumers are not confused about the origin of the goods.

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Protecting Animated Logos – LA28 Ushers In A New Era

The Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic & Paralympic Games (LA28) has recently unveiled the official LA28 emblem, which, for the first time, is an animated emblem consisting of multiple logos (shown below). “Built for the digital age”, LA28 has designed the emblem to “evolve over time, reflecting [Los Angeles’] spirit of limitless possibility”.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name

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.[1] 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.

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Down N’ Out – Down on their luck

In-N-Out Burgers, Inc v Hashtag Burgers Pty Ltd [2020] 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.

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“I wanna really really really wanna… take you to court.” VB trade mark dispute heads to the Federal Circuit Court in Australia

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.

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Kraft v Bega: Australian appeal court decision reaffirms the perils of relying on unregistered trade mark rights

In the case Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v Bega Cheese Limited [2020] FCAFC 65, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has dismissed Kraft’s appeal of a decision entitling Bega to exclusive use of the iconic yellow lid and yellow label with a blue or red peanut device on its peanut butter jars.

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Who Owns an Athlete’s Tattoos? The Player? The Tattoo Artist? A Licensor?

Who owns a celebrity’s tattoo, and the extent to which that tattoo can be displayed in a commercial context, raises right of publicity, copyright, and trademark issues. A district court in the recent Solid Oak case found no copyright infringement where a video game incorporated tattoos as inked on professional NBA players. Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. 2K Games, Inc., No. 16-CV-724-LTS-SDA (S.D.N.Y. March 26, 2020).

This case considered use of tattoos as part of lifelike depictions of professional athletes in video games, however the ruling easily relates to individuals with tattoos who commodify their likeness such as celebrities, social media influencers, and musicians.

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Trademark infringement case update: Lucky Brands Dungarees v Marcel Fashion Group

A nearly 20-year dispute between two competitors in the apparel industry will be heard by the Supreme Court Monday January 13, 2020, on the legal issue of claim preclusion – highlighting the practical pitfalls of releasing trademark infringement claims in settlement agreement between parties that continue to use the marks at issue. The case is Lucky Brands Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group, Inc., Case No. 18-1086.

The practical lessons to draw from this dispute are numerous:

  1. the importance of initially clearing marks and implementing a plan to handle potential third party objections
  2. strategic enforcement as to when, and against whom, to enforce trademark rights – and squarely on point with this nearly 20 year battle now before the Supreme Court
  3. careful drafting of what claims are released in the context of future use of the same or similar trademarks.
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