AC Milan is one of Europe’s most decorated football clubs with seven European Cup/Champions League titles and 18 Serie A (Italian league) titles. However the Rossoneri, as the club is affectionately known, recently came up against an unfamiliar opponent in an unfamiliar field of play, being in the General Court of the European Union (the General Court), following their attempts to register their club crest as a trade mark.Read More
The vexed issue of ‘patent eligibility’ for computer implemented inventions has raised its head again in Australia, this time in the Full Court of the Australian Federal Court decision of Commissioner of Patents v Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd  FCAFC 202. The decision expands upon principles for assessing the eligibility of computer-implemented technology, but the line between assessing eligibility and other aspects of patentability remains blurred.Read More
In February 2020, we wrote about the Federal Court’s decision in Hardingham v RP Data Pty Ltd, in which Justice Thawley held that RP Data (the operator of a real estate commercial information database) did not infringe copyright owned by Real Estate Marketing (REMA) and its sole director, Mr Hardingham, in images and floorplans created for real estate listings. Justice Thawley found that REMA/Mr Hardingham had effectively authorised the use of their copyright materials by RP Data, via a chain of implied licences and sub-licences from REMA/Mr Hardingham to real estate agencies, to the operator of realestate.com.au and ultimately to RP Data. This was despite the fact that there was no clear or written agreement between REMA/Mr Hardingham and the real estate agencies to whom the copyright images and floorplans were supplied.Read More
Many companies and activists toe the line of trade mark and copyright infringement in the name of parody, satire and criticism. In Australia, the fair dealing copyright exception for the purpose of parody or satire had rarely been judicially considered. There have now been two recent cases considering the defence.Read More
In what will be welcomed by innovative design brands, on 14 July 2021, the General Court of the EU handed down a decision annulling the EUIPO and Board of Appeal’s decisions that a mark filed by Guerlain lacked distinctive character. This decision emphasises that a distinctiveness assessment of a three-dimensional mark must be undertaken by reference to the specifics of common practice in the market for the relevant products.Read More
The High Court of New Zealand in Energy Beverages LLC v Frucor Suntory NZ Limited  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.Read More
In the recent judgment State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz  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.Read More
On 19 November 2020, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) in the UK handed down its judgment in the case of Freddy SPA v Hugz Clothing Ltd & Ors  EWHC 3032, which ran for an unusually long time for the IPEC (three days).
The decision was a rare occurrence of a passing off claim, together with other IP causes of action, succeeding in the get-up of a functional item, being “bum enhancing jeans”. Ordinarily, such cases, particularly with respect to fashion items, fail as the get-up is seen as merely design elements or ornamental, or the circumstances of the use lead to a conclusion that other trade marks (e.g. brand names and logos) dominate consumer perception.
This case could embolden brand owners in relation to enforcement of the look and feel of their clothing as it creates the possibility of confusion ‘post-sale’ in addition to the point of sale.Read More
The High Court of Australia’s recent decision Calidad Pty Ltd v Seiko Epson Corporation  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.