Tag: Europe

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Could You Be Using Your Trade Marks to Stop Unauthorised Resellers in the EU?
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Trade Mark Re-filing and Bad Faith – Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass GO, Do Not Collect $200 – Part Two: General Court Ruling
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British Amateur Gymnastics Association rolls and tumbles to trade mark enforcement against UK Gymnastics – UK Court of Appeal upholds trade mark infringement finding
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Riding on Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights
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Advertising in the Time of Coronavirus
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Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats
7
Brexit and .EU Domain Names – A warning for UK registrants
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UK Advertising Regulator makes first ever ruling on disclosures required for commercial marketing via a TikTok video
9
What an awful racket… Acoustic product trade mark case provides opportunity for brands being piggy-backed to drive search traffic
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Putting Position Marks Front and Centre: CJEU Considers Assessment of Position Marks for Services

Could You Be Using Your Trade Marks to Stop Unauthorised Resellers in the EU?

In this internet age, where a brand can be damaged by a single, negative review going viral, never has it been more important for a brand owner to protect its image and reputation. The pandemic forced all shopping online for some periods and has dramatically changed consumer buying habits, increasing the risks of unauthorised and poor quality online selling for high-quality brands without appropriate measures in place.

How can you stop a third party selling your genuine goods in a manner that damages your brand? Be it poor customer service, bait and switch practices, long delivery times, substandard internet sites or poor returns policies, issues such as these, the prevalence of which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, can create negative consumer associations with a brand. The answer – through an effective selective distribution strategy.

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Trade Mark Re-filing and Bad Faith – Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass GO, Do Not Collect $200 – Part Two: General Court Ruling

On 21 April 2021, the General Court of the European Union refused Hasbro’s appeal to overturn a decision that partially invalidated its EU trade mark for MONOPOLY on the ground of acting in bad faith when filing the application. The judgement by the General Court has ramifications for brand owners in both the law of bad faith but also in the practice of evergreening (repeatedly filing for an identical mark covering a broad specification of classes as the period of protection for the mark draws to an end).

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British Amateur Gymnastics Association rolls and tumbles to trade mark enforcement against UK Gymnastics – UK Court of Appeal upholds trade mark infringement finding

A recent UK Court of Appeal case has highlighted the importance of assessing the conceptual similarity of marks and not just their aural and visual similarities, when considering a potential trade mark infringement.

The UK Court of Appeal was hearing an appeal from a decision of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court concerning a claim by the British Amateur Gymnastics Association (“BAGA”) against UK Gymnastics and UK Gymnastics Affiliation (together “UKG”) for trade mark infringement and passing off. BAGA is a not for profit private company and recognised as the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the UK. UKG is a gymnastics sporting body that provides: membership services to individual gymnasts, gymnastics clubs and coaches; competitions; courses and badge/certification programmes among other services.

At first instance, HHJ Melissa Clarke found UKG liable for infringement of BAGA’s trade marks and passing off. UKG were granted permission to appeal on limited grounds which are listed below.

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Riding on Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights

On 24 February 2021, the UK High Court found that a number of Oh Polly dress designs had infringed the unregistered design rights of its competitor, House of CB. This recent decision confirms the risk of additional damages being awarded if infringers flagrantly copy third party designs, whilst also confirming the difficulties brand owners face in bringing passing off actions based solely on copycat designs.

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Advertising in the Time of Coronavirus

COVID-19 and the many national lockdowns that have followed have caused a huge shift in advertising and marketing. Suddenly, everyone is at home and receiving nearly all content digitally; through their phones, tablets and TVs, and advertising budgets have been sliced and squeezed as companies shift scarce resources to other parts of their business.

Regulators are faced with a new challenge and responsibility to protect consumers from companies who would price gouge and profit from panic caused by COVID-19. The UK regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has published a fair number of decisions and guidance in relation to the coronavirus.

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Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats

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 [2020] 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.

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Brexit and .EU Domain Names – A warning for UK registrants

Despite the UK having officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020, the Brexit transition period has been in place maintaining the status quo until 31 December 2020. However, with the end of transition period just around the corner, there are a number of important factors for businesses to be considering including the potential impact on .EU domain names.

Importantly, from 1 January 2021, UK Registrants will no longer be eligible to hold a .EU domain name. Each of the following would be classed as UK Registrants:

  • UK undertakings or organisations established in the UK but not otherwise in the EU;
  • UK citizens who are not resident of an EU member state; and
  • UK residents who are not EU citizens.
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UK Advertising Regulator makes first ever ruling on disclosures required for commercial marketing via a TikTok video

A TikTok post on an Emily Canham’s account, a beauty blogger and YouTube star, is the first TikTok video found to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) requirement for disclosure in the UK (see here).

The post, which featured a video of Emily Canham using a branded hairdryer and straighteners, included a caption alongside the video stated:

hiii just a lil psa there’s 20% off the [Brand] website TODAY ONLY with the code EMILY … #fyp #foryourpage“.

The brand in question had entered into an agreement with Ms Canham, which required Ms Canham to post a number of social media posts while at a music festival. The music festival was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. However, the contract was varied and still required several social media posts featuring a certain promotional code.

It was submitted to the ASA that the TikTok was created without the oversight or approval of the brand, and did not form part of Ms Canham’s contract. Additionally, both Ms Canham and the brand pointed to the fact that she had not been compensated for the promotional code featured in the TikTok video.

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What an awful racket… Acoustic product trade mark case provides opportunity for brands being piggy-backed to drive search traffic

An interesting recent decision by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) on an unusual set of facts may provide an opportunity for brand owners to prevent unauthorised third parties from piggy-backing off a trade mark to drive traffic to their competing sites or product offerings. Uniquely, this has been found in circumstances which do not amount to traditional “bait and switch” or passing off and where consumers are not confused about the origin of the goods.

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Putting Position Marks Front and Centre: CJEU Considers Assessment of Position Marks for Services

In a recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling, based on a referral from the Stockholm Court of Appeal, the CJEU considered whether the distinctiveness of a sign that is to be applied to specific services should be assessed with regard to what is customary in the relevant sector. A full copy of the decision can be found here.

The Court clarified that, in the context of trade marks for services, the assessment of a sign’s distinctiveness should not always involve an assessment of norms and/or customs of the sector.

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