Hasbro Inc. (Hasbro), owner of the well-loved board game Monopoly, suffered a defeat on 22 July 2019, before the EUIPO Board of Appeal in relation to the MONOPOLY trade mark. The EU registration for the MONOPOLY trade mark was partially invalidated as it was found that Hasbro had acted in bad faith when filing the application as part of a ‘trade mark re-filing’ programme.Read More
Claridge’s Hotel Limited (Claridge’s) recently succeeded in challenging in IPEC the use of the CLARIDGE name by Claridge Candles Limited (Claridge Candles) – a small one-person business.
However, the success came at with a cost for the world renowned hotel as in doing so it lost one trade mark registration entirely and had a second mark reduced in scope due to a non-use counterclaim, highlighting one of the risks of instituting trade mark infringement action.Read More
Stores like Aldi are increasingly popular with UK consumers as a result of offering “copycat” products of well-known brands at drastically lower prices. However, with this rise in popularity, brand owners and creatives are being increasingly frustrated by finding their products and ideas at the mercy of imitation products.
One such aggrieved party was well known makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury (Tilbury), who found their “Starburst” lid design and the “Powder Design” of their “Filmstar Bronze and Glow” set had provided the ‘inspiration’ for Aldi’s own “Broadway Shape and Glow” set. Tilbury filled a UK High Court claim for copyright infringement over the products shown below, with Aldi adamantly rejecting that any copyright had been infringed in their ‘inspired’ makeup set.Read More
William Grant & Sons, the distiller, blender and owner of Glenfiddich, the independent whisky company which markets itself as the “World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, was unsuccessful in its recent opposition of Glenfield’s label trade mark application.
Back in 2018, Mumbai-based business man Vivek Anasane filed a trade mark application for the label of his ‘Glenfield’ Scotch whisky in an attempt to expand his drinks company into the UK. This was quickly opposed by William Grant & Sons who argued that the Glenfield mark was “visually and phonetically highly similar” to the Glenfiddich word mark.
Proceedings recently commenced in the Federal Court of Australia by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) serve as a reminder of the ability to use the trade mark system to protect Geographical Indications (GIs) in Australia. The use and protection of GIs in Australia will be of particular interest to followers of the Australian-European Union free trade negotiations, where GIs have been flagged by the European Union as a critical issue.
Waitrose has agreed to stop producing “copycat” chocolate slabs following an ongoing dispute with Hotel Chocolat.
Hotel Chocolat accused Waitrose of infringing its intellectual property rights in its distinctive curved shaped chocolate slab. This was further reinforced when individuals were taking to Twitter to question whether Hotel Chocolat were actually producing the chocolate slabs for Waitrose. Hotel Chocolat requested that Waitrose removed the offending chocolate slabs from sale.
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.
On 29 November 2017, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) released its judgment in response to a reference from an Italian court relating to cloud recording and computing services provided by VCAST Limited (VCAST). The services enabled VCAST’s customers to select live broadcasts of television programmes that VCAST then remotely, through its own systems, recorded and made available in a cloud data storage space. The Italian court asked whether VCAST could provide this service without the permission from the owner of the copyright over the programme, with a specific query as to the application of the private copying exception provided in Article 5(2)(b) of the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC) (InfoSoc Directive).
In a positive decision for brand owners, the UK Supreme Court has confirmed that criminal trade mark offences can apply to the sale and distribution of grey market goods in addition to counterfeit goods.
In R v M & Ors  UKSC 58, the appellants had been importing clothes and shoes into the EU that bore trade marks of famous fashion brands. These were a combination of counterfeit goods and grey market goods (i.e. goods that had been produced with the trade mark owner’s consent but that had been subsequently sold without their consent).
In the UK, in a decision that will provide additional comfort to trade mark owners seeking to protect their intellectual property rights in the UK, the High Court held that a threat issued by a trade mark owner was not groundless simply because it was never followed up by proceedings being issued.
In Vanderbilt v Wallace & Ors  EWCH 45 (IPEC), the High Court held that “the emphasis is on whether the acts actually infringe or, if done, would infringe, not on whether a proprietor actually sues for infringement. The phrase does not impose an obligation to commence legal proceedings for every act complained of.”
The case involved a long running trade mark dispute between the claimant and defendant, including several concurrent actions. In this instance the defendant had argued that section 21 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 established that where threats are made the trade mark proprietor has to bring a claim in relation to everything that is the subject of a threat, and that if they fail to do so then the threats can never be justified, even if there is infringement.
The Court disagreed. It stated that there are often valid commercial reasons why a trade mark owner may elect not to issue proceedings even if there is an obvious infringement. The Court will consider the validity of the claim on its own and whether the acts complained of constitute an infringement, regardless of whether proceedings have been issued following any threats to sue.
In addition to providing clarity, this outcome will please trade mark owners. Provided that they have established infringement they can send cease and desist letters without worrying about issuing legal proceedings that may not be commercially desirable.