The United States Patent and Trademark Office is publishing a final rule revising the claim construction standard used by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) in inter partes review, post-grant review, and covered business method patent review proceedings. The Board will no longer interpret claims under the broadest reasonable interpretation standard and will instead use the claim construction standard enunciated in Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) and its progeny and followed by federal courts and the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”). The changes to the claim construction standard will only apply to proceedings in which a petition is filed on or after the effective date of the final rule.
If you are one of those intellectual property lawyers that likes to tell brand stories while travelling, this post is for you.
Last September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed the appeal of the German Souvenir Federation (Bundesverband Souvenir), which had filed an invalidity action based on the descriptive character of the term “Neuschwanstein” (the name of a beautiful castle located in southwest Bavaria, Germany). The appellant argued that the mark may be used in trade to designate the geographical origin of the goods and services concerned (handbags, clothing, soft drinks, jewelry, etc.).
Waitrose has agreed to stop producing “copycat” chocolate slabs following an ongoing dispute with Hotel Chocolat.
Hotel Chocolat accused Waitrose of infringing its intellectual property rights in its distinctive curved shaped chocolate slab. This was further reinforced when individuals were taking to Twitter to question whether Hotel Chocolat were actually producing the chocolate slabs for Waitrose. Hotel Chocolat requested that Waitrose removed the offending chocolate slabs from sale.
EasyGroup Ltd has suffered a blow in a High Court case against W3 Ltd, with the judge finding that its word mark, EASY, was invalid.
EasyGroup found itself facing a claim from W3 Ltd for groundless threats, in relation to letters of complaint it sent regarding the branding of one of W3’s businesses, EasyRoommate. As a counterclaim, EasyGroup alleged that W3’s use of the registered word mark and logo EASYROOMMATE, infringed its community registered trade mark, EASY, with W3 in turn stating that such a mark should be invalidated for being too descriptive under Article 7(1)(c) of the EU Trade Mark Regulation.
Trade mark holders may need to reassess their commercial and international marketing strategies as the proposed amendments to the parallel importation provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) (Act) take a step closer to enactment by the Australian Parliament.
The proposed amendments to the Act, contained in the draft Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission response Part 1 and other measures) Bill (Draft Bill) will favour parallel importers in Australia.
On 20 June 2017, a ruling between Sprinter megacentros del deporte SL and Diesel SpA was made regarding similar trademarks indicating there would be a risk of consumers being misled in relation to two similar figurative marks in the form of the letter “D” in respect of identical goods. A consumer would have to examine the marks very closely, which is unlikely since the average consumer seldom has the opportunity to compare trademarks side by side.
On 14 July 2017, the EU General Court issued a ruling in case T-223/16 between Massive Bionics SL and Apple Inc. and the EUIPO concerning the registration. In the end, the General Court also found that the Board of Appeal had rightly found that the marks are similar. The matter was based on the following trademark:
On 9 April 2013, Massive Bionics SL submitted an application for the registration of the trademark in classes 35, 42 and 44, against which registration Apple Inc. filed an opposition based on:
the word mark “iCloud” and the following word-figurative and figurative marks:
– the international word mark “iCloud”, designated in Cyprus in classes 9, 35, 38, 42 and 45
– the following EU figurative trademarks registered in classes 9, 35, 38, 41 and 42:
The Opposition Division of the EUIPO dismissed the opposition in its entirety, and Apple Inc. appealed. The Board of Appeal amended the decision of the Opposition Division of the EUIPO within the scope of all services from class 35 and certain services from class 42.
In 2016 Zbyszko Bojanowicz sp. z o.o. S.K.A. applied to the EUIPO to have the word-figurative mark “I’m organic” registered for goods and services from classes 16, 32 and 42 of the Nice Classification.
The EUIPO found that, in this case, conditions under Article 7 par. 1 b) and c) of Regulation No. 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trademark existed for which the submission of a word-figurative trademark must be rejected.
Local entrepreneurs are more and more often taking actions aimed at protecting their trademarks abroad.
The presence of products bearing local trademarks in foreign markets is becoming more and more common. The shaping of an international nature and increased recognition of trademarks usually starts from the development of a distribution network through obtaining new sales markets and concluding commercial contracts with foreign entities. While planning activity in other territories, it is advisable to ensure trademark protection in the selected jurisdictions. Trademark protection is based on the rule of territoriality. A global brand usually emerges when their trademarks are protected in a majority of countries worldwide. An applicant has three types of applications available:
i) domestic (before local trademark office),
ii) international (through the Madrid system) or
iii) regional (i.e., covering the entire European Union).
In a positive decision for brand owners, the UK Supreme Court has confirmed that criminal trade mark offences can apply to the sale and distribution of grey market goods in addition to counterfeit goods.
In R v M & Ors  UKSC 58, the appellants had been importing clothes and shoes into the EU that bore trade marks of famous fashion brands. These were a combination of counterfeit goods and grey market goods (i.e. goods that had been produced with the trade mark owner’s consent but that had been subsequently sold without their consent).