Louis Vuitton received a favorable decision from the EU General Court (“General Court”) in June 2020 which may assist brand owners seeking IP protection of their decorative patterns. The decision confirms the distinctive character an EU trade mark must possess in order to benefit from protection throughout the EU as well as highlighting how patterns may be protected through registration as a trade mark rather than under other forms of IP protection such as copyright or design protection. However, the decision also reaffirmed the EU’s strict approach to assessing the unitary character of EU trade marks, which potentially sets a high bar for applicants to clear.Read More
Banksy’s trade mark for one of his most famous artistic designs has been declared invalid by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (the “EUIPO”) on the grounds that it was filed in bad faith. The EUIPO finding him having engaged in “inconsistent with honest practices” in his attempt to protect his trade mark. A full copy of the decision can be found here.
The EUIPO said Banksy was attempting to use trade mark law to protect his artwork from being used commercially by third-parties because he couldn’t copyright it and maintain his anonymity. This decision highlights that the court will take a dim view of anyone – even famous artists – attempting to find a loophole in the law.Read More
CJEU determines no likelihood of confusion between footballer’s “Messi” figurative mark and earlier MASSI mark.
Whilst debate will continue to rage as to whether Messi or Ronaldo is the world’s best male football player, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) has ruled that Argentine superstar can register his name as a trade mark after an almost decade long legal battle.
In an interesting decision for trade mark fanatics, irrespective of their interest in football, the CJEU stated that Lionel Messi’s reputation could be taken into account, without any evidence of said reputation being provided, when weighing up whether the public would be able to determine the uniqueness of Messi’s mark.Read More
HRH Prince Charles’ former butler has had his application to register a “Royal Butler” logo as a UK trade mark denied by the UK Intellectual Property Office following a successful opposition by Lord Chamberlain, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. A full copy of the decision can be found here.
Following the recent media coverage regarding the various brand names used and trade marks filed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, known to many as “Harry & Meghan”, this decision is a timely reminder that UK trade mark law restricts the registration of names, brands and logos which may mistakenly suggest Royal patronage.Read More
On 11 June 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down its decision in the referral from the Belgium Companies Court (Tribunal de l’entreprise de Liège) arising from copyright infringement proceedings by Brompton Bicycle Ltd (Brompton) against a Korean company Get2Get Chedech (Get2Get) relating to its folding bike.
The decision is good news for designers and creative businesses as it lays a foundation for new opportunities for copyright protection and enforcement in Europe. This evolving area of law now requires a low threshold for protection, with a suggestion from the CJEU that minor creative choices in products will be sufficient for a finding of copyright protection.Read More
After the CJEU’s ruling earlier this year (as discussed here), the Sky v Skykick case has now returned to the English High Court and Lord Justice Arnold on 29 April 2020 issued a final judgment in the case (see full text of the judgment here).
Although Sky’s trade marks were found to be partially invalid on the ground that they were applied for in bad faith, Sky was still ultimately successful in establishing infringement.Read More
The EUIPO recently upheld an opposition by DC Comics to protect its reputable SUPERMAN mark from a similar sign, despite the applicant’s sign covering a different class of goods. The decision confirms that, for there to be a sufficient risk of injury under Article 8(5) EUTRM, the public must perceive a ‘link’ between the sign and the earlier mark. The mere fact the two marks cover different classes of goods and services is not inherently a barrier to such a link. Here the link arose largely from the earlier mark’s reputation, and commercial connections between the two classes in question.
Some will see the EUIPO as swooping to the rescue to protect the hard-earned reputations of brands; others will see this as an unreasonable expansion of rights beyond a mark’s designated classes, and a Kryptonite to legitimate activity.Read More
Following similar measures from the EUIPO and other national registries (see here), the UK Intellectual Property Office (the UKIPO), has declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until further notice, “interrupted days”. This means that any deadlines for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks, designs, and applications for these rights, which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until the UKIPO notifies the end of the interrupted days period.Read More
In Response Clothing Ltd v The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Ltd  EWHC 148 (IPEC), the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (“IPEC”) has issued the first UK decision made since the Court of Justice of the European Union’s controversial decision in Cofemel (C-683/17).
Why does this matter?
The Cofemel decision indicated that there is a harmonised concept of what constitutes a ‘work’ under copyright law throughout the EU, which is not restricted by any defined categories and should not take into account any aesthetic considerations.
Accordingly, there has been much discussion about the UK’s closed list of copyright protectable subject matter under the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 (“1988 Act”) and the concepts of ‘artistic works’, ‘sculptures’ and ‘works of artistic craftsmanship’ under section 4 of the 1988 Act and whether these are incompatible with EU law. Previous prominent Court decisions such as the Lucasfilm decision in the Stormtrooper Helmet case have also been thrown into question.
This decision is the first time that a UK Court has had to deal with this apparent incompatibility.Read More
The expansion of the UK Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (the “IPEC”) has continued with claims now able to be issued in seven new locations outside of London.Read More