IP Law Watch

Legal issues, law and regulations concerning the world of IP.

 

1
Descriptive Character and Geographical Origin: Bad News for the Souvenir Industry
2
A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval
3
A No Deal Brexit – how will trade marks and designs look?
4
Blockchain Can Change Everything: Even Trademark Transactions
5
Round 1 of Australia’s CRISPR patent dispute concludes
6
New parallel importation laws in Australia
7
Worth the fight: IP dispute resolution that won’t break the bank
8
US: Estoppel Attaches Even If Dismissed Without Prejudice
9
US PTAB Trial Practice Guide Updates
10
Frucor given red card over ‘V’ green trade mark

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 Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval

By Mark Wittow, Katie Staba and Trevor M. Gates

On September 25, 2018, the House concurred in Senate amendments to the newly-named Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”), sending that act to the president for signature.[1] The MMA is intended to “modernize copyright law” as applied to songwriters, publishers, digital music providers, record labels, and others involved in the creation and distribution of music. The MMA consists of three parts:

  • Title I establishes a licensing collective for digital music service providers to grant blanket mechanical licenses to such providers and collect and distribute royalties to rights owners;
  • Title II creates a royalty structure to compensate owners of pre-1972 sound recordings; and
  • Title III provides a statutory right for producers, mixers, and sound engineers to collect royalties for digital transmissions of sound recordings.

The MMA is the result of unprecedented alignment among Republicans and Democrats, the U.S. House and Senate, and music industry stakeholders.[2] Nonetheless, this major update to copyright licensing law in the music industry may cause upheaval within the complex music marketplace structure, which encompasses songwriters, studio professionals, artists, record labels, and digital streaming services.[3]

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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.

New parallel importation laws in Australia

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Act 2018 receives Royal Assent on 24 August 2018

The proposed changes to parallel importation law that we blogged about in January 2018 and May 2018 have become law.

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Worth the fight: IP dispute resolution that won’t break the bank

Small businesses and individual rights holders are set to benefit from the Intellectual Property National Pilot Scheme in the Federal Circuit Court

A specialist IP list in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) is open for business, with the goal of achieving quick, cheap and effective dispute resolution of intellectual property matters.

The Intellectual Property National Pilot Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 and appeals to small and medium-sized enterprises, individual rights holders and young innovators who may have previously avoided the court system even though they had a legitimate right or a good defence, but found that it simply wasn’t worth the fight.

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US: Estoppel Attaches Even If Dismissed Without Prejudice

On August 16, 2018, the U.S. Federal Circuit addressed when the inter partes review (IPR) time bar clock begins to tick.  See Click-to-Call Tech. LP v. Ingenio, Inc., Slip Op. 2015-1242 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2018).  The en banc Federal Circuit addressed whether the one year estoppel clock begins for a properly served complaint when the complaint is subsequently dismissed without prejudice.  The panel found that the § 315(b) time bar applies.  The filing of such a complaint, though later voluntarily dismissed, has previously formed the basis for declaratory judgment jurisdiction where the initial defendant later brings a validity challenge. See TransWeb, LLC v. 3M Innovative Props. Co., 812 F.3d 1295, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

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US PTAB Trial Practice Guide Updates

On Monday, August 13, 2018, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a notice updating the Trial Practice Guide. The update provided revisions to Sections I.G. (Expert Testimony), II.A.3. (Word Count and Page Limits), II.D.2. (Considerations in Instituting a Review), II.I. (Reply to Patent Owner Response and Reply for a Motion to Amend; Sur-Replies), II.K. (Challenging Admissibility; Motions to Exclude; Motions to Strike), II.M. (Oral Hearing), and Appendix A (Sample Scheduling Order).  The update further contemplates additional revisions that will be released on a rolling basis when applicable.

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Frucor given red card over ‘V’ green trade mark

On 2 July 2018 the Federal Court of Australia dismissed Frucor Beverages Ltd’s appeal regarding the registrability of the colour Pantone 376C with respect to the energy drink ‘V’.

The Frucor mark in question, Australian trade mark no. 1496541, was first filed with IP Australia on 5 June 2012. Registration of this mark was opposed by the Coca Cola Company on two grounds. First, Coca Cola alleged that while the trade mark was filed for Pantone 376C, the swatch attached to the application that visually demonstrated the colour was not actually Pantone 376C. Furthermore, it argued that regardless of the colour actually filed, it was not capable of distinguishing Frucor’s goods from other similar goods and services. The Registrar of Trade Marks dismissed the first ground of opposition but supported the second and the registration was denied.

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