Category: Litigation

1
Copyright Infringement? The Court is “Not Gonna Take It”
2
Just One More Thing For Swatch and Apple to Fight About
3
Amendments to China’s Copyright Law
4
Riding on Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights
5
High Court of New Zealand Trade Mark Clash Over the Colour Green
6
Battle of the ballet shoes: UK court finds infringement of registered community design
7
Neoprene Tote Bags: Watertight Not Copyright
8
Australia aligns with the U.S. and EU by adopting ‘exhaustion of rights’ doctrine
9
Don’t mess with Ferrari: the Prancing Horse legal drama
10
Air France restrained from using song that infringes “Love Is In The Air”

Copyright Infringement? The Court is “Not Gonna Take It”

A clear cut case of copyright infringement involving Twisted Sister’s hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (WNGTI) has demonstrated the Court’s willingness to award significant financial penalties where intellectual property rights have been “flagrantly” infringed.

In Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd v Palmer (No 2) [2021] FCA 434, Justice Katzmann of the Federal Court ordered Australian businessman and United Australia Party (UAP) founder Clive Palmer to pay AU$1.5 million in damages after finding that he had infringed copyright in WNGTI. Katzmann J notably awarded AU$1 million in additional damages, two-thirds of the total award, under section 115(4) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act).

The action was brought against Mr Palmer by joint applicants Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd and Songs of Universal (collectively, Universal), which are the exclusive Australian licensee and copyright assignee respectively.

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Just One More Thing For Swatch and Apple to Fight About

Since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, Swatch, a well-known Swiss watch manufacturer, has been involved in a number of trade mark disputes against Apple regarding their overlapping product markets.

These disputes have concerned the marks ‘I-WATCH’ and ‘I-SWATCH’, ‘TICK DIFFERENT’ and ‘THINK DIFFERENT’ and, more recently, the mark ‘ONE MORE THING’.

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Amendments to China’s Copyright Law

The first substantial amendments to China’s Copyright Law in 20 years were passed in November 2020 and will come into effect on 1 June 2021 (the Amendments). The Amendments primarily focus on enhancing protections for copyright owners, better aligning China’s Copyright Law with international standards, and implementing the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances that entered into force in April 2020.

The heavy deterrence-related focus of the revised Copyright Law will strengthen protections for copyright owners, particularly relating to digital piracy.

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Riding on Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights

On 24 February 2021, the UK High Court found that a number of Oh Polly dress designs had infringed the unregistered design rights of its competitor, House of CB. This recent decision confirms the risk of additional damages being awarded if infringers flagrantly copy third party designs, whilst also confirming the difficulties brand owners face in bringing passing off actions based solely on copycat designs.

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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.

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