Category: Litigation

1
The Battle of the Supermarkets Vol. 2 – GINgle Bells, GINgle Bells, GIN All the Way
2
Mind the Gap: Patagonia Sues Gap For Copying Fleece Design
3
Cadbury’s Purple Reign: High Court Allows Cadbury to Register Their Iconic Purple Colouring
4
Swatch v Samsung: App Store Operators are Not Intermediaries and Can be Liable for Trade Mark Infringement
5
Lovely Jubbly? Fictional characters are capable of copyright protection in the UK
6
Latvian Citizen Fined US$4.5 Million and Sentenced to More than 4 Years of Imprisonment for Fraudulent Trade Mark Renewal Scheme
7
Indirect Patent Infringement Down Under
8
Does Brexit Always Mean Brexit?
9
The Kremlin’s Intellectual Property Cold War: Legalizing Patent Theft with Decree 299
10
Ed Sheeran in “Shape of You” Court Battle

The Battle of the Supermarkets Vol. 2 – GINgle Bells, GINgle Bells, GIN All the Way

It is beGINning to look a lot like a legal disputes saga between supermarkets in the UK. We have recently covered an ongoing dispute between Lidl and Tesco (see here), which relates to an alleged trade mark infringement. This time, Marks & Spencer (M&S) are suing the largest Europe’s discount grocery chain Aldi for copying their registered designs of the light-up Christmas gin bottles. This is the second legal case in recent times brought by M&S against Aldi, with the first one involving the famous Colin the Caterpillar cake, which has since been settled. Notably, the case at hand in relation to gin bottles demonstrates the benefits of registering designs in the UK, especially if such design is unique and has a significant value to the brand, and the brand would like to protect it against any copycats.

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Mind the Gap: Patagonia Sues Gap For Copying Fleece Design

High-end outdoor clothing brand Patagonia Inc is taking on fast fashion retailer Gap for copying its “iconic” fleece jacket design. Patagonia Inc has filed court proceedings in the Federal Court.

In a complaint filed on 22 November 2022, Patagonia alleges that Gap willfully and deliberately copied the fleece design through the creation and sale of its “Mockneck Pullover” jackets, mimicking the flap pocket and rectangular logo of Patagonia’s classic “Snap-T” fleece jackets (shown below).

Patagonia “Snap-T” Pullover Fleece
Gap Product
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Cadbury’s Purple Reign: High Court Allows Cadbury to Register Their Iconic Purple Colouring

Cadbury has proven the adage that perseverance is the key to success as their continued and well-document pursuit over the registration of the colour purple has finally seen success in Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v Cadbury UK Limited [2022] EWHC 1671 (Ch). The UK High Court has partially upheld the Cadbury appeal over UKIPO’s previous 2019 decision. Hopefully, this will bring clarity to businesses wishing to register colour marks instead of creating further ambiguity around the registrability requirements of colour marks and other non-traditional marks.

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Swatch v Samsung: App Store Operators are Not Intermediaries and Can be Liable for Trade Mark Infringement

The High Court of Justice of England & Wales has recently held Samsung liable for trade mark infringement for watch faces sold on the Samsung Galaxy App store (“Samsung’s Store”) and infringing Swatch Group’s trade mark rights. The judgement provides useful guidance on intermediary liability specifically regarding app store operators.

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Lovely Jubbly? Fictional characters are capable of copyright protection in the UK

Considering the UK’s rich history of literature, it may be somewhat surprising to know that there was very little case law discussing whether copyright might subsist in a fictional character. However, on 8 June 2022, the UK courts finally tackled whether a fictional character can be protected under copyright law in Shazam Productions Ltd v Only Fools The Dining Experience Ltd & Ors [2022] EWHC 1379 (IPEC).

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Latvian Citizen Fined US$4.5 Million and Sentenced to More than 4 Years of Imprisonment for Fraudulent Trade Mark Renewal Scheme

Misleading renewal notices to trademark owners continue to cause confusion and, in some cases, unnecessary fees paid to fraudulent schemers that do not result in renewal of a trademark registration. Recently, a Latvian citizen was sentenced to more than four years in U.S. prison and fined over US$4.5 million in restitution, after he pleaded guilty to a three-year scheme that defrauded thousands of U.S. trademark owners of over US$1.2 million.

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Indirect Patent Infringement Down Under

The issue of contributory infringement of a patent under the Australian Patents Act 1990 (Act) does not often arise for consideration by the Australian judicial system. When it does arise, the question of whether or not the product supplied is a ‘staple commercial product’ under the relevant provisions of the Act is always of particular interest.

In only a few cases has the impugned product been held to be a staple commercial product, and so any case that expands upon that product class is a particularly valuable aid. It is therefore of interest that the Full Court of the Australian Federal Court has recently considered contributory infringement in Hood v Down Under Enterprises International Pty Limited [2022] FCAFC 69.

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Does Brexit Always Mean Brexit?

The General Court recently decided the case Nowhere v EUIPO (Case T-281/21) and overturned the EUIPO decision (and general position) on the validity of UK earlier rights in the context of EU oppositions post-Brexit.

The EUIPO Communication No 2/20 made clear that the EUIPO will treat all UK rights to cease to be ‘earlier rights’ for the purposes of inter partes proceedings. However, the General Court held that the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal made an error in rejecting an opposition solely due to the UK earlier rights losing validity in the EU post-Brexit and that the relevant date to assess the validity of UK earlier rights should be the filing date of the opposed application.

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The Kremlin’s Intellectual Property Cold War: Legalizing Patent Theft with Decree 299

Russia’s bold response to Western economic sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine now includes what amounts to legalizing patent theft against “unfriendly countries.” On March 5, 2022, the Kremlin issued Decree 299, which states that Russian companies and individuals can use inventions, utility models and industrial designs without owner permission or compensation, if the patent hails from a list of “unfriendly countries.”1 Specifically, the decree sets compensation for patent infringement at “0%” if the patent holder is a citizen of, is registered in, or has a primary place of business or profit in any of the 48 countries Russia previously designated as “unfriendly.”2 Unsurprisingly, the list includes the United States, Great Britain, European Union members, Australia, and other critics of Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

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Ed Sheeran in “Shape of You” Court Battle

Singer Ed Sheeran is currently giving evidence in a three week High Court copyright trial over his 2017 chart-topping hit “Shape of You.”

Sheeran has been accused by two musicians, Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue, that his hit song, “Shape of You” plagiarises “particular lines and phrases” of their 2015 composition, “Oh Why.” The two songs in question share a similar melody.

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