Category: Trademarks

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Court confirms additional tools for trade mark owners to protect their brand where they operate a selective distribution system in the EU
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If the purple colour may not be subject to the effect of time, trade marks certainly are
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Supermac takes a bite out of McDonald’s as it loses the BIG MAC trade mark in the European Union
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USPTO Clarifies Alice/Mayo Step 2A with New Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance
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Fashion Law – December 2018 Edition
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IP Exemptions to Competition Laws to be Removed: Restrictions in Licences to be Subject to Competition and Consumer Act 2010
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USPTO Announces Final Rule Changing Claim Construction Standard in Inter Partes Review, Post-Grant Review and Covered Business Method Patent Proceedings
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Descriptive Character and Geographical Origin: Bad News for the Souvenir Industry
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A No Deal Brexit – how will trade marks and designs look?
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Blockchain Can Change Everything: Even Trademark Transactions

Court confirms additional tools for trade mark owners to protect their brand where they operate a selective distribution system in the EU

A recent decision by the Court of Milan found that a trade mark owner who had consented to products being sold in the European Economic Area (EEA), but only through authorised retailers, could make a claim for trade mark infringement where the product was sold by an unauthorised retailer. This case highlights the effectiveness of implementing a selective distribution system for product manufacturers looking for new ways to protect their brand.

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If the purple colour may not be subject to the effect of time, trade marks certainly are

When it comes to non-traditional trade marks in the EU, the requirement of a clear and precise description can be quite complex to put into practice, as demonstrated in the recent UK Court of Appeal decision in Cadbury v The Comptroller General of Patents Designs and Trade Marks.

In 2013, in Cadbury v Nestle, the Court of Appeal held that the graphic representation and the description of the purple mark did not constitute a sign within section 1 of the Trade Marks Act but rather an attempt to register multiple signs with different permutations, presentations and appearances, which are neither graphically represented nor described with any precision.

As a result, Cadbury attempted to amend the (same) description of another of its colour marks, registered in 1998 and now at risk of invalidity as a consequence of the Cadbury v Nestle decision. However, both the Comptroller and the High Court denied Cadbury’s request to amend the mark description.

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Supermac takes a bite out of McDonald’s as it loses the BIG MAC trade mark in the European Union

Although it may be one of the most famous burgers in the world, on 15 January 2019, Supermac’s (Holdings) Ltd was successful in seeking the cancellation of McDonald’s International Property Company Ltd (McDonald’s) EU trade mark registration for BIG MAC for burgers or restaurants.

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USPTO Clarifies Alice/Mayo Step 2A with New Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance

For the last several years, a major part of prosecuting software-related patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has been dealing with theUSPTO’s inconsistent interpretation of patent subject-matter eligibility issues under 35 U.S.C. § 101 arising from the Supreme Court’s decisions in Alice Corporation Proprietary Ltd. v. CLS Bank International[1]and Mayo Collaborative Services. v.Prometheus Labs.[2]  However, new guidance from the USPTO concerning the Alice/Mayo test regarding patent subject-matter eligibility was released for public comment on January 7, 2019.  This guidance attempts to provide more examination consistency for entities prosecuting software-related patents.  We describe the primary features of the new guidance below and offer insights into what this means for companies pursuing such patents at the USPTO going forward.

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Fashion Law – December 2018 Edition

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” – Harry Winston

Welcome to the latest edition of Fashion Law. In this edition we review the Australian Government’s measures to tackle modern slavery, a New Zealand trade mark opposition highlighting the importance of trade mark watching services, superannuation payments for full time, part time or casual workers, protecting brands in international markets, and the changes to parallel importation laws.

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IP Exemptions to Competition Laws to be Removed: Restrictions in Licences to be Subject to Competition and Consumer Act 2010

The Australian Federal Parliament has been debating the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 5) Bill 2018 (Bill), which seeks to repeal section 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).
The Bill is expected to pass during this session of Parliament (by 6 December 2018). Section 51(3) of the CCA presently provides an exemption from most of the competition law prohibitions for certain types of transactions involving intellectual property (IP). The current exemption covers conditions in licences or assignments of IP rights in patents, registered designs, copyright, trade marks and circuit layouts.

Once passed, commercial transactions involving IP rights will be subject to the same competition laws as all other transactions involving other types of property and assets. The repeal will apply retrospectively but IP owners will have six months to review existing licences and agreements. It is important for brand owners to consider their key licensing arrangements and the possible competitive implications of those arrangements.

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USPTO Announces Final Rule Changing Claim Construction Standard in Inter Partes Review, Post-Grant Review and Covered Business Method Patent Proceedings

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is publishing a final rule revising the claim construction standard used by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) in inter partes review, post-grant review, and covered business method patent review proceedings.  The Board will no longer interpret claims under the broadest reasonable interpretation standard and will instead use the claim construction standard enunciated in Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) and its progeny and followed by federal courts and the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  The changes to the claim construction standard will only apply to proceedings in which a petition is filed on or after the effective date of the final rule.

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Descriptive Character and Geographical Origin: Bad News for the Souvenir Industry

If you are one of those intellectual property lawyers that likes to tell brand stories while travelling, this post is for you.

Last September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed the appeal of the German Souvenir Federation (Bundesverband Souvenir), which had filed an invalidity action based on the descriptive character of the term “Neuschwanstein” (the name of a beautiful castle located in southwest Bavaria, Germany). The appellant argued that the mark may be used in trade to designate the geographical origin of the goods and services concerned (handbags, clothing, soft drinks, jewelry, etc.).

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A No Deal Brexit – how will trade marks and designs look?

UK Government issues guidance on IP matters if there is no deal struck

Over two years after the UK voted to leave the EU, there is an increasingly likely possibility that the UK will leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal agreed (although negotiations continue).  As a result, the technical guidance notes published on 24 September 2018 give businesses, brand owners and designers much needed insight into how such a scenario will look.

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Blockchain Can Change Everything: Even Trademark Transactions

K&L Gates IP Partner, Susan Kayser, co-wrote the following article published in the American Bar Association.

Key issues for many brand owners are proving use of a trademark in commerce, maintaining the integrity of the brand, and combatting counterfeits. Blockchain—by its very nature—can efficiently provide the secure, reliable, and permanent records necessary to prove up genuine trademark use and genuine products. A secure database, spread across multiple computers, with the same record of all transactions, is ideal for tracking trademark transactions, as well as for eliminating paperwork and speeding up transactions.

A trademark and a blockchain have a complementary nature: a trademark acts as a source identifier, and a blockchain can validate a source. Providing trademark owners with a permanent, time-stamped, and secured record of information that is hosted on a peer-to-peer network, blockchain has the potential to transform trademark transactions. This article explores some of the myriad number of potential uses of blockchain for trademark transactions, including in establishing, licensing, and enforcing trademark rights.

Click to read the full article.

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