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The Red Bull Colours: No Trade Mark Registration

red bullIn the case of Red Bull GmbH v EUIPO, the European General Court (General Court) held that neither of Red Bull’s blue/silver colour combination trade marks were valid; this may cause concern to businesses looking to protect a combination of two colours forming part of their branding.

Background

In 2005 and 2011, Red Bull registered two blue/silver colour combination trade marks due to having acquired distinctive character through use. However, in the years 2011 and 2013, Optimum Mark sp. z o.o. requested that both Red Bull trade marks be declared invalid. The EUIPO’s Cancellation Division granted this request, the First Board of Appeal dismissed Red Bull’s appeals and now the General Court has upheld these previous decisions.

The General Court’s decision has been seen as a blow to the chances of successfully registering ‘colour combination’ marks in light of the extensive list of requirements set out in the judgement. However, there are two underlying factors to consider in more detail: graphical representation and the description. (more…)

EUIPO Notice on Brexit – December 2017

On 5th December, the European Commission issued a notice, countersigned by the EUIPO, to right-holders of, and applicants for, EU trade marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs), looking at the potential scenario in which no agreement is reached between the UK and the remaining 27 EU Member States in the Brexit negotiations.

The notice states that, unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another withdrawal date or the period is extended, on 30th March 2019 the UK will become a “third country”, i.e. it will no longer be an EU Member State. Any EUTM or RCD rights granted by the EUIPO on or after the withdrawal date will only be valid in the 27 EU Member States and will no longer have effect in the UK.

It is expected that the UKIPO will recognise EUTMs and RCDs that were registered prior to the above cut-off date by granting protection on the UK Register. However, IPcopy recommends giving consideration to filing UK and EU trade marks and designs simultaneously, to ensure adequate protection. (more…)

‘Monkey Selfie’ Copyright Battle: Settlement Reached

selfie-2700351_640The two year legal battle over the infamous ‘monkey selfie’ between a photographer and an animal rights group has finally reached its conclusion. Last month, a settlement was reached between the two parties, bringing this copyright drama to a quiet end.

By way of background, in 2011 a macaque monkey, named Naruto, took an image of itself in the Indonesian jungle after it picked up an unattended camera owned by photographer, David Slater. Disputes arose over ownership of the image when it was published on Wikipedia, without Mr Slater’s permission, and he asked for it to be taken down. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defended Naruto, arguing that he owned the copyright in the image.

However, Mr Slater contended that he had a valid copyright claim based on the fact that he engineered the situation that resulted in the picture. He befriended the group of wild macaques and set up his camera equipment in such a way that a “selfie” picture might come about. (more…)

European Commission Brexit Paper on Intellectual Property – a closer look

brexit-1481028_1920As noted in our post earlier this week, the European Commission has released its position paper on the treatment of intellectual property (IP) rights (including geographical indicators) after the UK completes its exit from the EU. It sets out general principles on unitary IP rights, geographical indicators, exhaustion, supplementary protection certificates and the protection of databases.

CITMA recently published its position paper on post-Brexit registered trade mark and design rights, and rights of representation. Many elements of the EU paper reflect the position of CITMA, in particular the unitary character of IP protection for European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) in the UK and EU after the withdrawal date. However, there are two aspects of particular interest to UK practitioners that were not addressed: rights of representation and reciprocity of UK geographical indicators. (more…)

Changes to EU Trade Mark Practice in October 2017

IMG_8533-1On 1 October 2017 a number of important changes to EU Trade Mark Practice will take effect.

Here is what you need to know: (more…)

New Balance’s Record Win in Chinese Trade Mark Case

New BalanceNew Balance has won a record pay-out in a Chinese trade mark case after three Chinese shoemakers were found to have infringed the brand’s trademarked slanting “N” logo.

In this rare trade mark victory, the Chinese court awarded more than 10 million yuan (£1.2m or $1.5m) to New Balance. The case is believed to be one of the largest awards ever given to a foreign company in a trade mark dispute in China.

Although small by international standards, the significant increase on previous penalties reinforces current attempts by China to crack down on the widespread problem of trade mark abuse; this is particularly in light of international pressure on Beijing to take more action on suspected intellectual property theft by Chinese companies. (more…)

#Hashtag Trade Mark Applications

hashtag-1120301__340Not that long ago, the hash symbol (#) was more commonly referred to as the “pound sign” or “number sign,” and its use in the early internet was primarily on chat services. That all changed 10 years ago when Chris Messina suggested to Twitter that it should start using hashtags to distinguish between groups and topics. Now, referring to the symbol as anything but a hashtag is guaranteed to get oneself labelled as #old. (more…)