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).Read More
In a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB“) had the authority to reject substitute claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 and 112, statutory grounds not available to the PTAB for evaluating patentability of granted patent claims in inter partes review (“IPR“). (Uniloc 2017 LLC, v. Hulu, LLC et al., Case No. 2019-1686, slip op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2020).)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
Fashion mogul and former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham has lost the first round of a trade mark battle with Australian skincare brand, VB Skinlab, in relation to two of VB Skinlab’s pending Australian trade mark applications for the “VB” brand filed in March 2018. A full copy of the decision can be found here.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
On Tuesday, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) designated two decisions precedential and one as informative explaining the circumstances under which the Board will exercise its discretion under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) and 35 U.S.C. § 314(a) to deny petitions. The cases analyzed situations where the prior art and invalidity arguments advanced by Petitioner were similar/identical to those previously considered by the examiner and where the timing of a final decision may coincide with another body’s findings (e.g., a district court trial) regarding validity. These cases provide guidance to Petitioners and Patent Owners alike about how to construct discretionary denial arguments, in particular regarding the appropriate way to address art that may or may not be cumulative to already-considered references.Read More
In a Halloween decision, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. et al., an appeal from IPR2017-00275. Without wading into the technical merits of the decision, the three judge panel of Judges Moore, Reyna, and Chen, issued a decision that, at first glance, sent tremors through those who practice before the PTAB in AIA-based post-grant review proceedings: finding the appointment of PTAB judges unconstitutional.Read More
To the interest of many a scouser and football fan alike, Liverpool Football Club’s attempt to register as a UK trademark LIVERPOOL has been rejected by the UKIPO on the grounds that the word is of “geographical significance” to the city. Liverpool FC had filed its application in regards to various goods in relation to football and the filing had attracted significant public attention.
Other English football clubs (Everton, Chelsea and Tottenham) have managed to register several trade marks for each of their respective area names. In addition Southampton Football Club has managed to register SOUTHAMPTON as an EU trade mark. As a result, it is not surprising that Liverpool FC would seek to register a similar mark to help protect its valuable brand.
However, as a result of the filing the club received significant backlash from the people of Liverpool, including their own supporters, and – probably in a related move – Liverpool FC has said that it does not plan to appeal the refusal and it has withdrawn the application. An additional trade mark application for LIVERPOOL with different claims has also been withdrawn.
The matter presents a great case study for brand owners on balancing the need to protect their brand whilst being considerate of the potential adverse PR that will come with the application for certain trade marks.Read More
B.E. Technology LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Appeal No. 18-2356 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 9, 2019) identifies what it means to win in a case. More particularly, the Federal Circuit explained how to determine whether a party is “the prevailing party.” B.E. Technology (“B.E.”) brought a patent infringement suit in district court against Facebook and the case was stayed pending inter partes review. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board ultimately held the claims of the patent in question to be unpatentable, which was confirmed on appeal.Read More
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