Category: Litigation

1
High Court of New Zealand Trade Mark Clash Over the Colour Green
2
Battle of the ballet shoes: UK court finds infringement of registered community design
3
Neoprene Tote Bags: Watertight Not Copyright
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Australia aligns with the U.S. and EU by adopting ‘exhaustion of rights’ doctrine
5
Don’t mess with Ferrari: the Prancing Horse legal drama
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Air France restrained from using song that infringes “Love Is In The Air”
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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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PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers
9
Protection of store layout under copyright law: the KIKO case
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Court finds ‘flagrant’ copyright infringement of ‘Love is in the Air’

High Court of New Zealand Trade Mark Clash Over the Colour Green

The High Court of New Zealand in Energy Beverages LLC v Frucor Suntory NZ Limited [2020] NZHC 3296 ruled that energy drink company Frucor Suntory NZ Ltd’s (Frucor) non-traditional green colour trade mark was valid. This decision is a rare example of a New Zealand based Court analysing non-traditional marks and highlighting the difference to Australia’s position. A full copy of the decision can be found here.

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Battle of the ballet shoes: UK court finds infringement of registered community design

The UK IP Enterprise Court has ruled that an Austrian shoe company infringed a registered community design (“RCD”) held by a US based sustainable fashion brand although there was no infringement of the corresponding unregistered community design (“UCD”). The decision is a relatively rare example of a UK, or EU, based Court analyzing fashion items and addressing design novelty issues between 2017 and now. A full copy of the decision can be found here.

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Neoprene Tote Bags: Watertight Not Copyright

In the recent judgment State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz [2020] FCA 1606, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia found a fashionable neoprene tote bag was not a “work of artistic craftsmanship” and therefore not an “artistic work” for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act). Since the Court found that copyright did not subsist in the State of Escape bag (the Escape Bag), there was no finding of copyright infringement.

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Australia aligns with the U.S. and EU by adopting ‘exhaustion of rights’ doctrine

The High Court of Australia’s recent decision Calidad Pty Ltd v Seiko Epson Corporation [2020] HCA 41 (Calidad) has more closely aligned Australian patent law with its U.S. and European counterparts. Key takeaways from this decision are:

  • the ‘doctrine of exhaustion of rights’ has replaced the ‘implied licence doctrine’;
  • a patent owner’s exclusive rights are extinguished by the first sale of the patented goods;
  • innovators have greater scope to reuse products without risking patent infringement; and
  • patentees seeking greater control over post-sale use should do so through contract law.
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Don’t mess with Ferrari: the Prancing Horse legal drama

Use of Ferrari’s trade mark in a fashion show or on social media requires consent. This is the lesson we assume Philipp Plein has recently learnt following a couple of legal defeats before the Italian Courts that ruled in favour of Ferrari.

In a ruling issued by the Court of Genova last June, the Court ruled in favour of Ferrari for the illegitimate use of Ferrari’s trade marks on Plein’s Instagram account. The designer on that occasion posted several pictures as well as Instagram stories showing some of his clothing line with Ferrari’s trade marks in the background. Ferrari successfully argued that in those shots Philipp Plein was unlawfully appropriating the positive image and reputation of the well-known car company by using its trade marks for promotional purposes.

In another recent case, the Court of Milan ordered Plein to remove from its website, social media, and other online platforms all the videos and images showing Ferrari cars and trade marks. The Court also ordered the payment, in favour of Ferrari, of €300,000 in damages plus legal fees as well as the publication of the decision in two national newspapers. Furthermore, in the event in which that Philipp Plein would not promptly remove the contested images and videos representing Ferrari cars and trade marks, it will have to pay a penalty of €10,000 for each day of delay in the removal of the infringing images and videos. To view the decision, click here.

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Air France restrained from using song that infringes “Love Is In The Air”

In April, we wrote about the judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability) [2020] FCA 535 (Decision), in which Glass Candy and Air France were found to have infringed the copyright in the well-known 1970s hit song “Love is in the Air” (Love).

Now, in the recent judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Scope of Injunction) [2020] FCA 1413, the Federal Court of Australia has finalised the injunctive orders necessary to give effect to the Court’s earlier conclusions on the issue of liability in the Decision, amongst other matters.

Injunctive Relief
Principally, Justice Perram addressed the appropriate injunctive relief against Air France in relation to its use of the adaptation of the infringing song “Warm in Winter” (Warm) called “France is in the Air” (France).

Air France contented that the injunction should only go as far as preventing the act of infringement which it was found to have committed, being the use of France as hold music for callers to its Australian toll-free number. However, Justice Perram agreed with the applicants that a wider injunction to restrain Air France from communicating France to the public without the licence of the copyright owner was appropriate.

This would encompass:

  • allowing France to be played on Air France’s YouTube channel (or other such channels) if the licensing arrangement with APRA was altered in the future such that ‘infringing uses’ of Love were no longer covered by the APRA licence
  • further efforts by Air France to use France on services which do not hold an APRA licence, and
  • the authorisation by Glass Candy of any such conduct.

Justice Perram ruled that a wide injunction was appropriate, as there was risk of Air France repeating the infringing behavior which, absent the licence of the copyright owner, ought to be restrained. This was especially so due to the fact that Air France had declined to undertake not to continue using France, leaving open the possibility for Air France entering into a fresh licence agreement for the use of France with Glass Candy and recommencing its ad campaign.

It was decided that the injunction would refer to the ‘copyright owner’ rather than a specific party, to account for any future ownership changes.

Declaration of flagrancy
Justice Perram held that it would be inappropriate to make a declaration regarding the flagrancy of Air France and Glass Candy’s conduct, since:

  • the various factors for assessing additional damages set out in s 115(4)(b) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), which includes the flagrancy of the infringement, were neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for the award of additional damages. Rather, these factors, like any finding of flagrancy, are intermediate steps along the way to another legal conclusion, and
  • the claim for damages against Air France failed as the owner of the communication right comprised in the right to digitally stream Love was incorrectly identified by the applicants (as detailed in the Decision).

Assessment of additional damages
Glass Candy submitted that the Court should not proceed to any assessment of additional damages since the conduct found to be flagrant in the Decision related to the creation of Warm and not the infringements that the Court found Glass Candy committed (which mainly related to the exercise of the communication right in Love). Justice Perram acknowledged that there might be some force in these submissions, but that the additional damages case should proceed.

Key takeaways
While the Court found a broad injunction to prevent the widespread communication of a musical work was appropriate in this case, a declaration of flagrancy was not.

Further developments will be reported once damages are assessed.

By Chris Round, Bianca D’Angelo and Talia Le Couteur Scott

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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PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers

In a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB“) had the authority to reject substitute claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 and 112, statutory grounds not available to the PTAB for evaluating patentability of granted patent claims in inter partes review (“IPR“). (Uniloc 2017 LLC, v. Hulu, LLC et al., Case No. 2019-1686, slip op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2020).)

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Protection of store layout under copyright law: the KIKO case

The Italian Supreme Court decision on the KIKO case (Cass. 780/2020) is the most recent judgement made in the wake of the Cofemel decision (case C-683/17) and follows the UK IPEC decision in Response Clothing (click here for our previous blog post).

In this latest development, KIKO S.p.a, a well-known make-up store was able to secure copyright protection for its signature store layout, made of its open space entrance with digital screens, the white/black/pink/purple color combination, the disco lighting effects, the size, proportions, materials and position of furniture.

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Court finds ‘flagrant’ copyright infringement of ‘Love is in the Air’

In its recent judgment (Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability) [2020] FCA 535), the Federal Court of Australia has found that an American electronic musical duo copied the celebrated Australian disco song ‘Love Is In The Air’. The decision confirms that the sound of lyrics as sung forms part of a musical work. Furthermore, a short sung lyric with attending music can be the ‘essential air’ of a song.

While determining only “modest” levels of copyright infringement occurred and dismissing most claims for damages, Justice Perram described the copying as “flagrant” and indicated there will be a further hearing to assess damages.

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