Tag: United Kingdom

1
Criminal trade mark offences to also apply to grey market goods in UK
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How distinctive can a chocolate bar be? After Kit Kat, now it’s Toblerone’s turn
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UK to introduce new Unjustified Threats Bill across IP law
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Threats Not Groundless Because Proceedings are Ultimately Not Issued
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ASA and CAP Publish Annual Report 2014
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Roger Maier and Assos of Switzerland SA v ASOS plc and ASOS.com Limited
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Federal Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Sandoz’s BPCIA-Related Declaratory Judgment Action Regarding Enbrel® Patents, but Declines to Address BPCIA Interpretation
8
Parody Comes to the United Kingdom

Criminal trade mark offences to also apply to grey market goods in UK

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 [2017] 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).

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How distinctive can a chocolate bar be? After Kit Kat, now it’s Toblerone’s turn

In newly issued court proceedings, the makers of Toblerone have become the latest confectionary manufacturers to seek to protect the shape of their product via 3D trade mark registrations. Following the recent difficulties Nestlé faced in registering the shape of their Kit-Kat bar, Mondelez have commenced proceedings against Poundland in relation to their newly announced Twin Peaks bar. Twin Peaks bears more than a passing resemblance to a Toblerone, except that each chunk of chocolate features two peaks rather than one.

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UK to introduce new Unjustified Threats Bill across IP law

The United Kingdom’s new Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017 (the Act) was recently granted royal assent and is set to come into force in October 2017. The Act should make it easier to advise clients, avoid litigation and facilitate the negotiation of settlements by outlining what types of threats are unjustified. The Act will also harmonise the UK law on unjustified threats across patents, trade marks and design rights.

Currently, the law allows those accused of infringing intellectual property to sue for damages if threats of legal action against them are revealed to be groundless. This can lead to rights-holders becoming wary of challenging perceived threats to their intellectual property because they do not want to risk their threats being perceived as groundless and, as a result, do not exercise full protection of their intellectual property rights.

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Threats Not Groundless Because Proceedings are Ultimately Not Issued

In the UK, in a decision that will provide additional comfort to trade mark owners seeking to protect their intellectual property rights in the UK, the High Court held that a threat issued by a trade mark owner was not groundless simply because it was never followed up by proceedings being issued.

In Vanderbilt v Wallace & Ors [2017] EWCH 45 (IPEC), the High Court held that “the emphasis is on whether the acts actually infringe or, if done, would infringe, not on whether a proprietor actually sues for infringement. The phrase does not impose an obligation to commence legal proceedings for every act complained of.”

The case involved a long running trade mark dispute between the claimant and defendant, including several concurrent actions. In this instance the defendant had argued that section 21 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 established that where threats are made the trade mark proprietor has to bring a claim in relation to everything that is the subject of a threat, and that if they fail to do so then the threats can never be justified, even if there is infringement.

The Court disagreed. It stated that there are often valid commercial reasons why a trade mark owner may elect not to issue proceedings even if there is an obvious infringement. The Court will consider the validity of the claim on its own and whether the acts complained of constitute an infringement, regardless of whether proceedings have been issued following any threats to sue.

In addition to providing clarity, this outcome will please trade mark owners. Provided that they have established infringement they can send cease and desist letters without worrying about issuing legal proceedings that may not be commercially desirable.

By: Nóirín McFadden and Jamie Kershaw

ASA and CAP Publish Annual Report 2014

‘Make Every UK Ad a Responsible Ad’

On 27 May, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) published their Annual Report for 2014. The Annual Report emphasises the ASA and CAP’s continuing work to implement the strategy unveiled during 2014. This strategy aims to ‘make every UK ad a responsible ad’ through the following five strands:

  • Understanding
  • Support
  • Impact
  • Proactive
  • Awareness

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Roger Maier and Assos of Switzerland SA v ASOS plc and ASOS.com Limited

In a long-anticipated decision, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (Court of Appeal) on Wednesday held, by 2-1 majority, that use of the ASOS brand by the popular online clothing retailer was defensible under the ‘own name’ defence in Community trade mark law.

The decision, which reversed the findings of the judge at first instance, will be appealed to the Supreme Court (the highest court in England and Wales) by the Claimants, who own the successful ASSOS cycling clothing business and are the proprietors of a Community trade mark for the ASSOS word mark, which has been registered since 2005. 

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Federal Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Sandoz’s BPCIA-Related Declaratory Judgment Action Regarding Enbrel® Patents, but Declines to Address BPCIA Interpretation

The biologics industry has been eagerly awaiting the Federal Circuit’s ruling on Sandoz Inc.’s (“Sandoz”) appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California’s dismissal of its declaratory judgment action due to lack of Article III jurisdiction. In particular, the industry has been waiting to see whether the Federal Circuit would uphold the district court’s ruling that Sandoz’s lawsuit was barred by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”). Unfortunately, the Federal Circuit declined to address the district court’s interpretation of the BPCIA, providing no further guidance on the topic. Instead, the Federal Circuit simply affirmed the district court’s ruling that there was no subject matter jurisdiction, relying on Hatch-Waxman generic drug cases as precedent.

To read the full alert, click here.

 

Parody Comes to the United Kingdom

The United States has given us the Scary Movie films, Meet the Spartans and Date Movie. Why has the United Kingdom not produced anything similar? Maybe it is because they were not the greatest of films, but more likely it is because, up until 1 October 2014, the United Kingdom did not have a parody exception to copyright infringement. The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014 have come into force and state that “Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work”. Read More

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