Tag: Court Decisions

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Zara v Zara: The evolving world of “fashion”
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Can the mere registration of company name infringe? In the case of BMW, yes!
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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners
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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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Descriptive Character and Geographical Origin: Bad News for the Souvenir Industry
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Federal Circuit holds that reissue application of hemodialysis shunt patent impermissibly recaptured surrendered subject matter
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U.S. patent case updates: IPR proceedings
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CJEU provides some clarity on when a design is ‘solely dictated by its technical function’
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Thunder Road toasts success in “Pacific Ale” case again (Stone & Wood’s appeal dismissed)

Zara v Zara: The evolving world of “fashion”

The recent decision in Inditex v EUIPO demonstrates the far reaching, evolving nature of fashion brands and the markets they can operate in and are expanding into.

In this case, Inditex (one of the world’s largest fashion retailers and owner of the fashion brand Zara) appealed the EUIPO’s decision to grant registration of the ‘Zara Tanzania Adventures’ mark in classes 39 (travel and tourism) and 43 (travel agency services). The appeal was based on the registration of its own ‘Zara’ mark in class 39. But how can a fashion brand object to a mark in the travel sector?

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Can the mere registration of company name infringe? In the case of BMW, yes!

On 12 February 2019, car manufacturer (and globally recognised car brand) BMW was granted summary judgment in its claims for passing-off and trade mark infringement against BMW Telecommunications Ltd and Benjamin Michael Whitehouse (the sole director of BMW Telecommunications Ltd). The respondents were a consultancy business providing services for railway signaling and telecommunications.

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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

March 4, 2019, marked the first time in over 100 years that the Supreme Court of the United States issued two copyright decisions in the same day[1] – both unanimous and both strict interpretations of statutory language.  In the first of these two decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com that copyright owners must obtain a registration from the U.S. Copyright Office prior to filing an infringement action.[2]  The Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, resolved a long-standing circuit split on whether the “application approach” (merely filing a copyright application) or the “registration approach” (obtaining a copyright registration) is sufficient to file a copyright infringement suit under § 411(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976.  In the second decision, the Court in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. determined that “full costs” under § 505 of the Copyright Act did not authorize awarding litigation expenses beyond those specified in the general costs statute.

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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

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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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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Federal Circuit holds that reissue application of hemodialysis shunt patent impermissibly recaptured surrendered subject matter

The Federal Circuit, in a nonprecedential decision, held that claims of a reissue application were properly rejected because they recaptured subject matter surrendered during the original prosecution of U.S. Patent No. 8,282,591 (“the ’591 patent”).[1]

The ’591 patent is directed to an arteriovenous shunt that connects a graft to an artery and passes returned blood through a “single lumen venous outflow catheter” into the right atrium of a patient’s heart.  This system reduces the risk of infection, clotting, and hyperplasia compared to systems that remove and return blood through a graft connected to a vein.[2]

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CJEU provides some clarity on when a design is ‘solely dictated by its technical function’

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently confirmed that the “no-aesthetic-consideration” test is the preferable approach when deciding whether a design is “solely dictated by its technical function”.  As a result, if aesthetic considerations are completely irrelevant the design should not be registered.  However, this does not mean that the legislation requires a design to have an aesthetical merit in order to be registered as a Community Design.

Last month, the CJEU published their long-waited decision on the request for a preliminary ruling raised by the Oberlandegericht Düsseldorf (the “German Court”) back in 2016.

The CJEU has provided some clarity on the interpretation of Article 8(1) of the Community Design Regulation (CDR) and how to determine if a product’s features are “solely dictated by its technical function”. The CJEU took the chance to stress, once again, that the determination “must be interpreted in a uniform manner in all Member States”, which strongly reiterates the EU’s objective for cohesive legal application.

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Thunder Road toasts success in “Pacific Ale” case again (Stone & Wood’s appeal dismissed)

On 9 March 2018, Byron Bay brewery Stone & Wood lost an appeal in the Australian Full Federal Court of Appeal to Brunswick based brewer Thunder Road with respect to their respective uses of the word PACIFIC for their rival beers.

Stone & Wood sells craft beer, including its best-selling beer “Pacific Ale”. Thunder Road launched its “Thunder Road Pacific Ale” in 2015, which it renamed “Thunder Road Pacific” later that year following letters of demand from Stone & Wood.

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