Category: Consumer & Retail

1
In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry
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
Trade mark re-filing and bad faith – Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200
6
The Claridge’s Affair: A win, but at what cost?
7
Bronze, Shape, Glow: A copyright tale destined for Broadway
8
The Scotch Whisky Saga: Where Name and Reputation is not enough
9
Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair
10
Beauty and the Beast – A tale of (trade mark infringement) as old as time

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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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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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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The Scotch Whisky Saga: Where Name and Reputation is not enough

William Grant & Sons, the distiller, blender and owner of Glenfiddich, the independent whisky company which markets itself as the “World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, was unsuccessful in its recent opposition of Glenfield’s label trade mark application.

Back in 2018, Mumbai-based business man Vivek Anasane filed a trade mark application for the label of his ‘Glenfield’ Scotch whisky in an attempt to expand his drinks company into the UK. This was quickly opposed by William Grant & Sons who argued that the Glenfield mark was “visually and phonetically highly similar” to the Glenfiddich word mark.

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Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair

On Tuesday July 23, 2019, the Federal Circuit declined to fashion design-patent-specific doctrines of exhaustion or repair. Automotive Body Parts Ass’n v. Ford Global Techs., LLC, Case No. 2018-1613, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. July 23, 2019).

Instead, the court reemphasized that the same rules apply to utility patents and to design patents unless otherwise provided by law. Id. Also concluding that “aesthetic appeal” is not functional, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Ford’s favor. Id. The decision is notable for its widening of the gap between trade dress and design patents and for its reaffirmation of the principle that design patents and utility patents should, whenever possible, receive identical treatment under the law.

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Beauty and the Beast – A tale of (trade mark infringement) as old as time

IPEC has ruled over the recent dispute between Beauty Bay (claimant) and Benefit Cosmetics (defendant) which arose after Benefit sold a Christmas gift set contained in a globe shaped box displaying the words “Beauty and the Bay”. The gift set was part of a 13 product collection celebrating 50 years since the Summer of Love and the company’s San Francisco heritage which included products like “Glam Francisco”, “I Left my Heart in Tan Francisco” and “B.Right by the Bay”.

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