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.Read More
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.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
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
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
On 29 January 2020 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed its decision in the referral from the English High Court in the Sky v SkyKick case. We have previously covered this case and its importance for EU and UK trade mark law (including with our summary of the opinion issued by Advocate General Tanchev, which can be seen here).
The CJEU’s ruling provides good news for trade mark owners as it largely maintains the status quo for EU and UK trade mark law, departing from the AG’s Opinion in a number of important ways.Read More
On 19 June 2019, the EU General decided a case about the validity of Adidas’ EU trade mark registration for three stripes. In the General Court’s decision (see here), the Court upheld the invalidity of the mark on the basis that: (i) the mark wasn’t used consistently and evidence of reversed/amended versions of the mark was inadmissible; and (ii) Adidas failed to show acquired distinctiveness across the EU, providing admissible evidence for only five EU Member States.Read More