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
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently confirmed that when assessing the actual use of a mark and the scope of protection afforded by a trade mark, the defining factor is the way in which it is perceived, and it is irrelevant that it is classified as a figurative or a position mark. In the CJEU’s decision in ECLI:EU:C:2019:471, the CJEU rejected German shoemaker Deichmann’s appeal to have Spanish competitor Munich SL’s trade mark revoked. The case revolves around the registered mark below, depicting a solid line cross on the side of a dotted outline of a shoe.Read More
A federal district court in New York recently held that embedded tweets could violate the exclusive right to display a copyrighted image. In 2016, Plaintiff Justin Goldman snapped a photo of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, with Boston Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge. Goldman then uploaded the photo to his Snapchat Story. The image went viral, making its way onto Twitter, where it was uploaded and re-tweeted by several users. From there, media outlets and blogs published articles which featured the photo by embedding the tweets on their webpages. Goldman sued the media outlets for copyright infringement.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a reasonable jury could find a design pattern on rifle scopes is “nonfunctional” and thus potentially amenable to trade dress protection. Since 2002, Leapers, Inc. has been selling adjustable rifle scopes with knurling on the surface. Knurling is a common manufacturing technique that allows users to grip and fine-tune products more easily.
Leapers asserted “that it uses a unique knurling pattern that is distinctly ‘ornamental’ and by which customers recognize [Leapers] as the source of the product.” Leapers had executed an exclusive manufacturing contract with a Chinese company, but chose to end that relationship in 2011. The manufacturer agreed to cease using all technical specifications and designs, but later a factory manager from the manufacturer formed his own company and began manufacturing scopes allegedly using Leapers’ knurling design.
On September 29, a jury in California awarded Columbia Sportswear more than US$3.4 million for infringement of its design patent on heat-reflective technology for clothing and outdoor gear. Columbia accused Seirus Innovative Accessories of infringing its utility and design patents for its wavy lining material, which reflects body heat, but allows for breathability and moisture-wicking. This appears to be the first jury verdict on a design patent after the Supreme Court’s decision in Samsung v. Apple.
In June IP Australia handed down a decision in favour of the pop star Madonna who faced an applicant seeking to register the trademark HARD CANDY which was the name of Madonna’s gym business. In Hard Candy Fitness, LLC v Hard Candy (Australia) Pty Ltd  ATMO 61, IP Australia had no difficulty in finding that Hard Candy (Australia) Pty Ltd (AU Hard Candy) was acting in bad faith when it filed a trademark application for HARD CANDY in the week Madonna launched her new gym business under that name.
IP Australia found that the opponent (US Hard Candy) is a global luxury fitness brand and owner of a group of fitness, health and lifestyle centres around the world operating under the name HARD CANDY FITNESS. US Hard Candy was founded by American musician, entertainer, actress, author, cultural icon and entrepreneur Madonna in partnership with Madonna’s agent, Guy Oseary, and Mark Mastrov of New Evolution Ventures, LLC.
Many businesses operate in the Middle East through entities licensed to use their trade marks. These businesses should be aware that many Middle Eastern countries require that trade mark licence agreements are recorded with the respective Trade Mark Registers or other named authorities in these countries. Not recording a licence agreement could lead to monetary penalties being imposed on the licensee or an inability to enforce trade marks against third party infringers.
For example, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each have more or less equivalent provisions in which a trade mark licence agreement must be in writing, it cannot include unregistered trade marks and it has no legal effect against third parties unless it is recorded on the respective Trade Mark Registers (or other named authorities in these countries). Each of these countries has slightly different processes and requirements for seeking registration of a trade mark licence agreement. Read More