A federal district court in New York recently held that embedded tweets could violate the exclusive right to display a copyrighted image. In 2016, Plaintiff Justin Goldman snapped a photo of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, with Boston Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge. Goldman then uploaded the photo to his Snapchat Story. The image went viral, making its way onto Twitter, where it was uploaded and re-tweeted by several users. From there, media outlets and blogs published articles which featured the photo by embedding the tweets on their webpages. Goldman sued the media outlets for copyright infringement.
EasyGroup Ltd has suffered a blow in a High Court case against W3 Ltd, with the judge finding that its word mark, EASY, was invalid.
EasyGroup found itself facing a claim from W3 Ltd for groundless threats, in relation to letters of complaint it sent regarding the branding of one of W3’s businesses, EasyRoommate. As a counterclaim, EasyGroup alleged that W3’s use of the registered word mark and logo EASYROOMMATE, infringed its community registered trade mark, EASY, with W3 in turn stating that such a mark should be invalidated for being too descriptive under Article 7(1)(c) of the EU Trade Mark Regulation.
Trade mark holders may need to reassess their commercial and international marketing strategies as the proposed amendments to the parallel importation provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) (Act) take a step closer to enactment by the Australian Parliament.
The proposed amendments to the Act, contained in the draft Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission response Part 1 and other measures) Bill (Draft Bill) will favour parallel importers in Australia.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a reasonable jury could find a design pattern on rifle scopes is “nonfunctional” and thus potentially amenable to trade dress protection. Since 2002, Leapers, Inc. has been selling adjustable rifle scopes with knurling on the surface. Knurling is a common manufacturing technique that allows users to grip and fine-tune products more easily.
Leapers asserted “that it uses a unique knurling pattern that is distinctly ‘ornamental’ and by which customers recognize [Leapers] as the source of the product.” Leapers had executed an exclusive manufacturing contract with a Chinese company, but chose to end that relationship in 2011. The manufacturer agreed to cease using all technical specifications and designs, but later a factory manager from the manufacturer formed his own company and began manufacturing scopes allegedly using Leapers’ knurling design.
Looking back at 2017, statistics give us a better understanding of the big picture and help us interpreting the market to guess in which direction the economy is going to go.
On 20 June 2017, a ruling between Sprinter megacentros del deporte SL and Diesel SpA was made regarding similar trademarks indicating there would be a risk of consumers being misled in relation to two similar figurative marks in the form of the letter “D” in respect of identical goods. A consumer would have to examine the marks very closely, which is unlikely since the average consumer seldom has the opportunity to compare trademarks side by side.
On 14 July 2017, the EU General Court issued a ruling in case T-223/16 between Massive Bionics SL and Apple Inc. and the EUIPO concerning the registration. In the end, the General Court also found that the Board of Appeal had rightly found that the marks are similar. The matter was based on the following trademark:
On 9 April 2013, Massive Bionics SL submitted an application for the registration of the trademark in classes 35, 42 and 44, against which registration Apple Inc. filed an opposition based on:
the word mark “iCloud” and the following word-figurative and figurative marks:
– the international word mark “iCloud”, designated in Cyprus in classes 9, 35, 38, 42 and 45
– the following EU figurative trademarks registered in classes 9, 35, 38, 41 and 42:
The Opposition Division of the EUIPO dismissed the opposition in its entirety, and Apple Inc. appealed. The Board of Appeal amended the decision of the Opposition Division of the EUIPO within the scope of all services from class 35 and certain services from class 42.
On 20 March 2013, the company Mediaexpert S.A. submitted the following word-figurative EU trademark to the EUIPO:
for the following services in classes 35, 39 and 41:
- 35: Business management; business administration;
- 39: Transport; packaging and storing of goods;
- 41: Education; providing training; sports;
and the trademark was registered on 5 March 2014 under number 11674132 for all the services submitted.
On 22 May 2014, the company Mediaexpert sp. z o.o. applied for invalidation of the mark, citing an earlier protection right to a domestic, word-figurative trademark registered on 26 February 2010 under number R.226812 in the form:
for goods and services from classes 7, 9, 11, 12, 16, 20, 35, 39, 41 and 42.
Together with the motion for invalidation, the applicant attached a printout from the Polish Patent Office database and a list of goods and services in the Polish language, without a translation into English, which was the language of the proceeding for invalidation.
Fast forward to a ruling of 20 July 2017, the court dismissed the complaint by the applicant, that there had been a breach of the principle of the protection of justified expectations, and ordered the applicant to pay the costs of the proceedings.
On 12 January 2015, the company LG Electronics Inc. submitted the mark “QD” to the EUIPO. The application was made for: “television receivers; mobile phone; smartphones; tablet computers; computers; sound recording devices; image recording devices; sound transmission devices; image transmission devices; sound playback devices; image reproduction devices; software; software for interactive television; communications software; computer software” belonging to class 9 of the Nice Classification.
In a decision of 19 August 2015, the application for registration of the mark was dismissed in relation to all goods, on the basis of Article 7 par. 1b) and c) of Regulation No. 207/2009 due to the absence of any distinctiveness of the sign and given that the mark consists solely of a descriptive element in relation to the goods for which it was submitted.
LG Electronics Inc. disagreed with that decision and lodged an appeal with the EUIPO on 9 October 2015. Subsequently, in a decision of 24 May 2016, the Board of Appeal of the EUIPO dismissed the appeal, ruling that the word mark “QD” is descriptive for the goods the submission referred to.
The Düsseldorf first instance district court decided that the trademark of Ferrari has to be cancelled (Decision as of 2 August 2017 – Case no. 2a O 166/16 – juris). However, the decision in not yet final.