Friday, 3 July 2015
DFS subsidiary Sofa Workshop was a retailer of sofas and other furniture, as was Sofaworks. Sofa Workshop traded under the name “Sofa Workshop” and also owned two Community trade marks (CTMs) for the words SOFA WORKSHOP, which between them covered goods and services relating to various forms of furniture and accessories in Nice Classes 18, 20, 24 and 35. Sofaworks traded under the name “Sofaworks”.
Said Sofa Workshop, given the similarity of trading names and the fact that both businesses were competing in the same market, there was a likelihood of customer confusion. Accordingly Sofaworks both infringed its two CTMs and passed itself off as being associated with Sofa Workshop. No way, said Sofaworks. First, both the CTMs were invalid since the words SOFA WORKSHOP were both descriptive and lacking in distinctive character. Even if they were valid, they were liable to be revoked for non-use on the basis that there had not been a genuine use of those marks within the European Community.
Responding to the allegation of invalidity, Sofa Workshop argued that (i) even if its mark were descriptive and non-distinctive for sofas, that wasn't the case for the other goods for which those marks had been registered, (ii) in any event, its marks had acquired a distinctive character in relation to sofas and (iii) even if its CTMs had not acquired any distinctive character, their specifications could still be appropriately narrowed in order to neutralise the objection by eliminating those goods and services in respect of which they were held not to possess distinctive character.
Judge Hacon delivered a judgment of Arnoldian proportions in which he surprised this Kat and probably more than a few other readers by ruling that the marks were invalidly registered (that's not the surprising bit) and that, if they had been, they would have been liable for revocation for lack of genuine use in the EU (that's the surprise). However, the last laugh -- if a rather expensive one -- went to Sofa Workshop in that Sofaworks was held liable for passing off. Taking a closer look at the judgment:
Validity of the CTM registrations
It was not in dispute that the words ‘sofa’ and ‘workshop’, taken separately, had well-established meanings in the mind of the average consumer: a 'sofa' was an item of furniture for sitting on and a 'workshop' was a place where goods are manufactured or repaired and from which they may be sold.
How did the average consumer perceive this combination of words? There was evidence that ‘sofa workshop’ was used as a descriptive term by traders in the sofa business and that another 41 furniture-related businesses in the UK used the word “workshop” in their business names. Sofa Workshop itself used the term ‘workshop’ descriptively in its advertising, to indicate the type of place in which its products were made and also to emphasise the higher quality and greater flexibility in manufacture which was a consequence of the products coming from a workshop. Accordingly both CTMs consisted exclusively of signs which may serve in trade to designate a characteristic of some of the goods for which those marks are registered and were thus invalidly registered.
Had the CTMs acquired distinctive character after they were registered?
There was a great deal of evidence of use of the trade name SOFA WORKSHOP in the UK by Sofa Workshop since 1986. While use of a mark does not necessarily translate into that mark becoming distinctive of the user, in the absence of any other candidate mark by which consumers might identify the origin of the goods or services, the substantial use of a mark is a good start to proving that it has acquired distinctiveness.
This evidence related to use and distinctiveness of the marks in the UK and the judge was therefore satisfied that by 19 May 2014, when Sofaworks filed its counterclaim for invalidity, the mark SOFA WORKSHOP had acquired in the UK a distinctive character in relation to sofas and related goods.
This did not however help Sofa Works. since a mark which is descriptive to a native English speaker is liable to be equally descriptive elsewhere because of the widespread use of English in other Member States of the European Union, including the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Cyprus in addition to Ireland and Malta, where English was an official language. There was no evidence though that the words SOFA WORKSHOP had acquired a distinctive character on account of their use in any of those countries. This being so, there was insufficient evidence to establish validity of the two Community trade marks through the acquisition of distinctive character.
Revocation of the CTMs for non-use
From a review of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and especially the ONEL/OMEL case [Case C-149/11 Leno Merken, noted by the IPKat here], it appeared that the law was as follows: (i) the question of whether there has been ‘genuine use in the Community’ is not to be approached from the perspective of whether there has been use of the mark in more than one, two or any other particular number of EU Member States, since territorial borders are to be disregarded; (ii) a CTM is put to genuine use in the EU where it is used in accordance with its essential function, which is to guarantee the identity of the origin of the goods or services for which it is registered, and used for the purpose of maintaining or creating market share within the Community for the goods or services covered by the mark; (iii) whether the mark has been so used will depend on all relevant facts and circumstances, including the characteristics of the market concerned, the nature of the relevant goods and services, the territorial extent and scale of use, and the frequency and regularity of use; (iv) purely in relation to the territorial extent of use, genuine use in the Community will in general require use in more than one Member State; (v) an exception to that general requirement arises where the market for the relevant goods or services is restricted to the territory of a single Member State.
Here there was no dispute that Sofa Workshop had put its CTMs to genuine use on an extensive scale in the UK in the five year period before the counterclaim for revocation, but there was no evidence that any of Sofa Workshop’s advertising and advertorial publicity was directed at consumers outside the UK even though it was accessible to them, and there was only evidence of one non-UK sale ever being made. On that basis the CTMs had not been used by Sofa Workshop in the five year period in order to maintain or create market share within the EU for the goods or services covered by the marks. Consequently those registrations were liable to be revoked.
Amendment of the specifications of the CTMs
In the event that the CTMs were valid and should not have been revoked, the proposals for the narrowing of the specification for the goods and services in respect of which they were registered, on the terms suggested by Sofa Workshop, would have been allowed.
On the evidence and following an extensive review of the law, it was established that, among a proportion of relevant actual consumers, which was well above de minimis although markedly less than half the total, there existed a belief that, because of the similarity between Sofa Worshop’s CTMs and Sofaworks’ trading name, the respective goods of Sofa Workshop and Sofaworks came from the same or undertaking or from economically-linked undertakings. This being so, at least one essential function of Sofa Workshop’s CTMs -- the guarantee to consumers of the origin of the goods or services -- was materially damaged and would be further damaged if the court did not intervene.
It is probable that the same conclusion applied with regard to the functions of Sofa Workshop’s CTMs as providing a guarantee of quality of their goods and services. Consequently, if those marks had been validly registered and had not been liable to be revoked, they would have been infringed.
For the reasons stated in relation to whether Sofa Workshop’s CTMs had acquired distinctive character in the UK, Sofa Workshop had goodwill in its business there which was associated in the public mind with its trading name ‘Sofa Workshop’. Notwithstanding the descriptive qualities of that trading name when used in relation to sofas and related goods and services, it had still acquired a secondary meaning in the mind of the relevant British public in England and Wales, as a badge of origin for such goods and services
As to the proportion of the relevant public to which Sofaworks' trade name must constitute a misrepresentation, this had to be sufficient to cause material damage to the goodwill of Sofa Works, as was the case here. Thus, for the reasons given in relation to infringement of the CTMs, Sofaworks’ use of its SOFAWORKS sign resulted in a representation to a proportion of the relevant public in England and Wales that the goods and services of Sofaworks came from a source which was the same as, or was associated in the course of trade with, Sofa Workshop. That proportion was sufficient for Sofaworks’ acts to cause material damage to Sofa Workshop’s goodwill. It therefore constituted a substantial proportion, that is to say enough to warrant a finding of misrepresentation on the part of Sofaworks. Accordingly Sofa Workshop succeeded in its claim for passing off.
Says this Kat, the judge's position on revocation is one on which many people would like to see the Court of Appeal's view, and there is so much law in this judgment as a whole that it should not be difficult for a reasonably competent lawyer to find some slant, some shade of meaning, some nuance, some verbal formula in which the judge "couched" his ruling that would provide a basis upon which to launch an appeal. However, it is quite likely that this will not happen.
Sofa Workshop may be content to let the decision go since, after all, the company won the action on the ground of passing off and it may be best advised either (i) to carry on using its SOFA WORKSHOP, teaching the public to think of it as a trade mark and not as a non-distinctive descriptor in all relevant English-speaking countries and then to re-apply for a CTM on the basis of well-evidenced acquired distinctiveness, or (ii) to focus its use on the UK alone and apply for a national trade mark.
Sofaworks may be content to let the decision go too, since the decision on passing off looks rock-solid and the other issues went in its favour. More significantly, the company has already indicated that it would be easier for it to change its name than to appeal, since its attraction for its customers lies in the store's concept rather than in its (descriptive) name and it has already spent some £500,000 in legal fees when defending these proceedings.
Cat-proof sofa here and here
Cat trapped in sofa here
Cat-friendly sofa here
As the story goes, Makkonen proposed the idea of text messaging in 1984 in a pizzeria during a telecoms conference in Copenhagen. At that time, he was working in a senior position in the Finnish Telecoms and Postal Authority. In large part due to Makkonen’s direct involvement, the first 160 character format was developed a year later. The first message was sent in 1992 by Brit Neil Papworth to Vodafone director, Richard Jarvis, at work-related party (“Happy Christmas” was the message). Two years later, following developments in phone hardware, Nokia introduced the first phone that enabled its user to write messages easily. While the use of SMS technology is declining, billions of text messages are still sent each day. No exaggeration here—SMS technology has changed the way that the world communicates with each other.
Given all that, what was the concluding comment that this Kat heard on the radio this week, in reporting Makkonen’s death—“He did not bother to seek a patent for his idea. His wife cannot have been too happy about that.” There we have it—innovation, technology and patents, all for one and one for all. Makkonen, however, did not see the world like that. The one word that described him is “reluctant”. He did not like the nickname that had been given to him—"the father of SMS." In his own (text-messaging) words, “I did not consider SMS as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them.” Indeed, for a long time, his name was not even associated with the technology. It took some dogged newspaper reporting to uncover his identity and his connection to SMS technology. Only in 2008 did The Economist magazine award him one of its prestigious Innovation awards.
“SMS interview” that he had with the BBC in 2012. This Kat sets out below several of Makkonen’s text responses to the questions posed by the BBC interviewer.
“20yrs ago I didn’t see sms as separate issue—it was just a feature in the revolutionary mobile communications system.”
“I don’t think that I made a patentable invention, but was one of the early persons to understand the need and the concept. I’m glad the work was done as part of GSM.”
“In my mind private message of high profile persons should be kept out of public discussion. Privacy belongs to telecommunication as much as to private letters.”
“20 years is long time… I believe that reliable convenient to use text messaging will stay forever. Is not necessary what we call sms. No more pay per message.”
“Not my idea but integration of mobile content display to my eyeglasses. Maybe someone is working with it?”So we do make of this remarkable innovative life of Matti Makkonen? Start with the issue of patents. One wonders whether the Finnish Telecoms and Postal Agency even had a patent policy in 1984 (in any event, Makkonen was a civil servant at the time, so his personal financial interest in any patent that might have been issued would have been limited). This Kat can already hear Professors Michele Boldrin and David Levine, leading proponents of “the case against patents” position, pointing to the development of sms technology as a good example of where patent protection would have only got in the way of technological development. Pushing back is Makkonen’s own appreciation for the centrality of Nokia in the ultimate adoption of text-messaging, and the role that patents presumably played for Nokia during that period. Indeed, Makkonen joined a unit of Nokia in 2000.
As for his total reluctance to embrace the potential for cultivating celebrity status, part of this Kat finds it so very admirable. But there is also a part of this Kat that recognizes that celebrity status helps contribute to the dynamism that high tech entrepreneurship seems to require to reach its full potential. Without detracting from Makkonen’s accomplishments and his contribution to modern life, maybe that is one of the reasons why Finland is not Silicon Valley, despite the excellence of its educational system, the quality of its engineers and the imagination of its business community.
Thursday, 2 July 2015
1969 Dodge Charger named General Lee after the commander of the Confederate Army Robert E. Lee (left), has a Confederate flag on its roof. The Confederate flag is increasingly being regarded as more than an historical milestone in the United States' long march from a society based on slavery and segregation to one that seeks to reflect the aspirations of that country's Constitution. Some people clearly now see it as a badge of current political thought, of a return to the days of white supremacy, though survey results suggest that more people associate with "Southern pride", which seems to this outsider to be an ill-defined and not specifically offensive concept. TV Land is not the only business to be anxious about the flag's message, it seems: the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has not banned the flag, but has asked fans to stop flying it.
This Kat has been trying to avoid drawing too many comparisons between the swift responses to the use of the flag when a minority of people find it offensive and the determination of the Washington Redskins National Football League team to hang on to its Redskins brand, notwithstanding the plain evidence that it is offensive to many people, to the point at which the Obama Administration is prepared to prevent the team's return to the Washington DC area.
Merpel wonders about this: what if Dylann Roof had not been shown together with a Confederate flag but with some other potent modern icon? Suppose he was clad head to toe in Lonsdale clothing, or if in each photograph he was shown with a gun in one hand and a bottle of Stella Artois in the other? Would consumer actions have been the same, calling for a ban or some sort of punishment on the brand, or do consumers condemn the wrongdoer but forgive the brand?
|The Purrberry: no laughing matter ...|
In the real world, there are several options. One can drop the brand or flag entirely; one can swiftly withdraw it and then reintroduce it when the time is right, one can change it for another or one can retain it in its entirety but change its essential message. However, not every option is open for every goodwill- (or illwill-)bearing icon, as the owners of the Washington Redskins and the users of the Confederate flag will soon find out if they do not already know.
Dodge Chargers here
Charge Dodgers here
The OAEE (initials for Organismos Asfalisis Eleftheron
Epaggelmation) or, roughly, Freelancers’ Social Security Organization is (what
else) the Greek State’s social security organization for “freelancers” (this
includes lawyers in Greece). Exercising its wisdom (at least in trade mark
terms), the OAEE filed (and registered) its logo (below right) as a trade mark in Greece in
classes 16, 35, 38 and 44 back in 2009.
|Once Allfiled realised that its|
employees were missing, it
didn't take too long to find out
Hildyard J had something to please both parties in his 177-paragraph judgment, since he granted interim relief -- but only in part. In his view:
* Allfiled's basic business idea was clearly the same as that developed by the new company, even if there were differences between their respective technologies. However, competition in itself was not precluded.
* Whether the conduct of departing directors and employees was permissible or not was a fact-sensitive question.
* Allfiled's non-competition and non-solicit covenants were broad; they reinforced obligations which might otherwise be implied, but they did not define what information was properly to be characterised as confidential.
* When considering whether to grant a pre-trial interim injunction, the court had to seek to protect rights and expectations which were arguably enforceable, the breach of which could not be properly compensated by damages, applying the American Cyanamid test of whether there was a serious question to be tried unless there were "extreme circumstances where a trial is rendered plainly and obviously otiose" [para 78].
|Well, they were|
* Factors against granting an injunction were that Allfiled might not even benefit from it, since it had lost its entire workforce and was in a perilous financial position, while the new company (Port Tech -- the 15th defendant) appeared interested in only one of Allfiled's customers, Magpie: this meant that leakage of information elsewhere was unlikely and an injunction could even backfire on Allfiled because, if the new company was allowed to continue trading, it was more likely to be able to pay damages than if it was forced out of business.
|Some magpies seem quite|
well able to look after
their own interests ...
* Given the court's assessment of the balance of convenience, it was not strictly necessary to consider what should be taken as the status quo for the purpose of the American Cyanamid test. Allfiled had actually delayed seeking relief and, while delay was not of itself fatal to relief, the longer the "last change" had gone unchallenged, the more likely that it would be established as the new status quo. The fact that Allfiled had taken a risk in waiting two months after issuing its first challenge to the defendants was another reason for the provisos in the injunctive relief granted.
This Kat hasn't come across an instance before in which the party seeking interim relief no longer has a workforce to service lost customers and wonders if this has happened before. Since specific performance of contracts of employment and, presumably, directors' contracts, is not an available option, the notion of protecting the interest of Magpie -- not a party but nonetheless represented in these proceedings -- seems only right and proper.
Wednesday, 1 July 2015
In the next few weeks, this Kat will be posting on a number of cases that are still of interest though they are no longer "hot news", these being decisions on which was unable to comment at the time they were published since he was up to his whiskers in conferencing and foreign travel. The first of these is GO Outdoors Ltd v Skechers USA Inc II  EWHC 1405 (Ch), a 19 May decision of Mrs Justice Rose, sitting in the Chancery Division, England and Wales, on an appeal from a decision of the UK Intellectual Property Office.
GO had used these marks over many years in its stores' signage, marketing literature and radio and television advertising throughout the UK. US footwear manufacturer Skechers opposed on absolute grounds, objecting that the marks were devoid of any distinctive character under the Trade Marks Act 1994 s 3(1)(b) and that they were purely descriptive contrary to s3(1)(c) of the same Act.
[the seasoned George Salthouse, interjects Merpel] dismissed the opposition under s 3(1)(c) since he concluded that the terms "go walking" or "go running" did not actually describe the basic activities of walking or running: while "walking" and "running" described the basic activity, the addition of the word "go" altered their character by turning them into an order or exhortation to carry out the activity in question. However, he agreed with the challenge based on the marks' inherent distinctiveness under s 3(1)(b), holding that they failed to meet the criteria in Case C-398/08 P Audi AG v OHIM [the 'Vorsprung durch Technik' case, noted by the IPKat here] in that they lacked originality, did not require any interpretation by the relevant public and were not indicative of a particular undertaking. Nor had the marks acquired distinctiveness through use.
GO appealed, submitting that the hearing officer had wrongly treated Audi as deciding that a mark had to possess a certain originality or resonance requiring at least some interpretation by the relevant public or setting off a cognitive process in the mind of that public in order to have inherent distinctiveness; that he had made findings in relation to distinctiveness under s 3(1)(b) that were inconsistent with his findings on descriptiveness for s 3(1)(c); (3) and that he had failed to give proper weight to the evidence of the use of GO's marks over the years.
Mrs Justice Rose dismissed GO's appeal. In her view:
* the hearing officer would have been wrong to hold that Audi established that slogans could not be distinctive unless they had originality or resonance, since the requirement for a trade mark to be distinctive was no different than for any other type of mark -- but he didn't hold like that since he took the trouble to consider whether GO's marks were distinctive even if they lacked originality or resonance. The reason why he said they lacked distinctiveness was because they would not enable the average consumer to distinguish goods being retailed by one undertaking from those of another.
|Skechers: putting the boot in|
* on the evidence -- photographs of the inside and outside of GO's stores, its in-store banners and posters and copies of advertising material -- the hearing officer's stated reasons for finding that it did not show the kind of use that would cause the marks to acquire distinctiveness had been clearly set out and there was nothing wrong with his conclusion.
For good measure she added, obiter, that the hearing officer's decision that GO's marks did not describe the activity of shopping for outdoor clothes or shoes and did not comprise a sign or indication which might designate characteristics of that service was clearly correct.
Adds the IPKat, it is not always appreciated that, unlike oppositions under the Community trade mark system, which can only be made on relative grounds where the opposition is founded on the existence of an earlier registered or unregistered right, oppositions in the United Kingdom can (as in this instance) also be made on absolute grounds of refusal. Merpel notes that it's never to late for GO Outdoors to rectify the position: all they have to do is just keep on using the target marks as trade marks for the goods and services in question, spend lots of money on educating their customers, suppliers and everyone else that the words "GO Walking" and "GO Running" are specific indicators of their products, amass loads of evidence to that effect, hope that someone else will use the same words in the course of trade so that they can successfully sue them for passing off -- and then apply again. Should be easy!
Rules of GO here, not to be confused with the 'other' GO here
Go Fly a Kite here
Go take a running jump here
Go to Hell here
There are a couple of items of news relating to the blog team "regulars". First, Birgit is taking a Kat sabbatical till the end of the calendar year, when we look forward to welcoming her back. Secondly, we are happy to record the return of one of our former regulars -- Nicola Searle -- who, in her guise of the Katonomist, composed some highly thought-provoking pieces about the role of IP in economics, and vice versa.
Now for news of our guest Kats who, for a full six months, join the team and are vested with full blogging powers and privileges on equal terms with the blog team regulars. Back in January of this year we had the pleasure of introducing readers to guest Kats Tom Ohta, Valentina Torelli and Suleman Ali. At midnight last night we said our sad farewells to them, thanked them for their contributions and wished them the very best in their post-Kat activities.
As in real life, so too on the blogosphere is sadness so often tinged with joy, for the departure of our recent guest colleagues coincides exactly with our pleasure at welcoming two brand new guest Kats who have joined us from 1 July till midnight on 31 December. They are Nikos Prentoulis (Prentoulis Lawyers & Consultants, Athens) and Jani Ihalainen (Redd Solicitors, London). Both have blogging experience (Nikos as a long-term member of the MARQUES Class 46 team and Jani with his own IP Iustitia weblog). We are also thrilled to mark the arrival of a third guest, a prodigal Kat returning to the fold, is Mark Schweizer (Meyerlustenberger Lachenal, Zurich), a fellow Class 46 blogger and an adjunct judge in the Swiss Federal Patent Court. We wish them the best of luck -- and hope that you will enjoy their contributions.
Over the past few weeks, the stream of visitors to this weblog has continued to grow. Since June 2003 we've now received more than fourteen and a half million page views. Nearly 9,500 individual blogposts are online and can be searched via the blog's search box at the top left hand corner of its home page. This year looks like being our busiest ever. So far, over half a million visits have been made to us, around twice the volume of readers at this time last year. In March of this year alone, the IPKat welcomed 212,040 site visitors -- the highest monthly figure ever recorded.
The number of readers receiving Katposts by email is, at the time of writing, 11,811, and this blog is pursued by over 11,200 followers on Twitter at @Ipkat. The most frequently-visited blogpost remains Catherine Lee's June 2011 item, "Goodbye Cathy: Hello Kitty and Miffy settle copycat case", here, which has been visited more than 239,000 times.
The blog operates a moderated comments facility and invites readers to post comments that are relevant, responsible and neither obscene nor insulting. At present the number of readers' comments posted to this weblog stands at over 24,500 -- and we give a big "thank you" to those who have taken the time and trouble to share their thoughts and information with us and with our readers.
The Kat's blog friends. Every few months this weblog lists, in no particular order, a number of IP -flavoured weblogs with which members of the IPKat's blogging team are associated. If you've not yet come across them -- and many of our more recent readers probably have not -- we hope that you will find some merit in them. For the avoidance of doubt, this list only relates to IP blogs to which Kat team members contribute: it is not intended as an exhaustive list of intellectual property blogs, or of blogs that have received our personal blessing. That's why there are plenty of IP blogs that are not listed, even though we know about them, like them and often read them!
Class 46, founded by friends of European trade mark organisation MARQUES and driven by a big team of international contributors, delivers trade mark and brand-related news and developments from across Europe (www.marques.org/class46/). As of today, this blog has no fewer than 4,463 email subscribers and a searchable database of well over 4,000 items -- mainly relating to European case law and office practice but with coverage of plenty of other themes too, including plain packaging of tobacco products and the latest WIPO and OHIM initiatives for assisting users of the international and Community trade mark systems. Kats Jeremy and Birgit both contribute to this blog, as do former guest Kat Laetitia Lagarde and current Kat Mark Schweizer.
Class 99, founded by patent and trade mark attorney David Musker, is dedicated to design law and practice in the UK, in Europe and beyond (http://www.marques.org/class99/default.asp). This weblog is now part of the MARQUES social media family along with Class 46. It has 1,750 email subscribers and a searchable database of over 630 items. New blog team contributors are earnestly sought from among the ranks of those who are either MARQUES members or work for a company or firm that belongs to MARQUES.
The 1709 Blog, which caters for the copyright enthusiast and seeks to cover all aspects of copyright law and practice in all its rich and varied glory (the1709blog.blogspot.com/). As of today, this blog has 2,470 email subscribers and a searchable database of nearly 2,100 items. It has a large and international team of contributors: Glastonbury Festival's Ben Challis, IPKat bloggers Eleonora and Jeremy and recent guest Kat Marie-Andrée Weiss, Professor Mira T. Sundara Rajan, John Enser (Olswang) and our man in Paris, Asim Singh. You can follow this blog on Twitter, here.
The SPC Blog is a handy information source for anyone who is involved in the tiny but controversial and highly lucrative world of supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) for pharmaceutical and plant protection patents, as well as other forms of patent term extension (thespcblog.blogspot.com/). As of today, this blog has 2,052 email subscribers, many of whom have enriched the content of this weblog with their comments and through the provision of information concerning SPCs. This blog contains over 600 items, including English translations of some European national decisions that are not available elsewhere. Incidentally, The SPC Blog organises an annual seminar, which is free to all comers and provides a great opportunity for pharma patent-owning companies, generics, private practitioners and patent office functionaries to get together and compare notes.
PatLit tackles patent dispute resolution topics -- principally litigation -- not just from the UK but from wherever interesting news and comments emerge. As of today this blog, whose contributors include Michael Thesen, and David Berry, has 1,466 email subscribers and a searchable database of getting on for 970 items. Within the near future, PatLit is to be relaunched as IP-Lit, covering not just patent dispute resolution but litigation and its alternatives right across the spectrum of intellectual property rights. If you are interested in participating in this blog -- particularly if you are based in the United States, Canada, Australia/New Zealand or one of the major Asian markets, do please get in touch!
IP Finance, which was launched in January 2008 in response to the UNCITRAL initiative on security interests in intangibles, touches that delicate interface between intellectual property and the world of finance, addressing securitisation, valuation, royalty rates, assessment of damages and the evolution of new business plans (http://ipfinance.blogspot.com/). As of today, this blog has 1,567 email subscribers and a searchable database of almost 1,300 items. Kats Neil and Jeremy write for this blog, which is also garnished with content from US academic Mike Mireles and (F)RAND expert Keith Mallinson (WiseHarbor).
jiplp is the blog of the leading Oxford University Press monthly publication, The Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (JIPLP), which IPKat team member Jeremy (jiplp.blogspot.com/) edits, with assistance from Deputy Editor Eleonora. As of today, this blog has 1,002 email subscribers and a searchable database of 601 items. This blog's content includes Current Intelligence notes, book reviews, requests for articles on specific topics and occasional guidance as to how to write (or not to write) good IP articles. There's an active and carefully moderated LinkedIn Group for JIPLP contributors and readers with over 330 members, which you can see here. You can also follow this blog on Twitter here.
Afro-IP (afro-ip.blogspot.com/), for which the blogmeister is Darren Olivier, deals with the IP scene in Africa. As of today, this blog has 890 email subscribers and a searchable database of over 1,800 items. This blog, which offers the largest single searchable online source of recent African IP news, features Caroline Ncube, Jeremy Speres, Isaac Rutenberg and Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie within its blog-squad. Afro-IP can be followed on Twitter here.
IP Tango (iptango.blogspot.com/), which is a bilingual blog with contributions both in Spanish and English, covers the increasingly important developments for IP in Latin America. As of today, this blog has 536 email subscribers and a searchable database of over 1,400 items. Like Afro-IP, IP Tango is a major source of intellectual property information and comment in its increasingly important area of focus.
Art & Artifice (www.artandartifice.net/). As of today, this international weblog, which includes Simone Blakeney, Rosie Burbidge, Rachel Buker, Angela Saltarelli, Elizabeth Emerson and Marian Ang, has 560 email subscribers and a searchable database of 476 items. Its scope is broad enough to cover not merely intellectual property law but other areas of legal concern for artists and the art-driven industries. Art & Artifice recently launched a Twitter presence that is followed by getting on for 300 readers.
Revitalised last year and growing in momentum is SOLO IP, which reflects some of the interests, and the anguish, of those who practise IP by themselves or in small groups, or who work in environments in which they are the only IP people (soloip.blogspot.com/). As of today, this blog -- which is driven by blogmeister Barbara Cookson (Filemot Technology Law Ltd), has 305 email subscribers and a searchable database of 446 items. This blog warmly invites expressions of interest from would-be bloggers (on which see 'Would you like to be an IP Blogger' below)
Would you like to be an IP blogger? Most of the weblogs listed above are still hoping to recruit some fresh talent into their blogging teams, as well as to host more good guest items from occasional writers. If you (i) have something valuable to say about IP, (ii) have some experience of IP in one form or another and (iii) think that you may be able to turn your hand at blogging (or already have some experience), do email Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org, attaching or linking to your CV, and explain why you think you might be a good blogger.
Tuesday, 30 June 2015
|The advantage of a furry face:|
no-one can see you blush
Once again the IPKat, Merpel and all the blog's contributors take the opportunity to say a big thank-you to their readers and information-providers and to the litigants, legislators, judges and consumers who have combined to make copyright what it is today ...
Matters arising 1. Earlier this month, thanks to Axel Paul Ringelhann, the IPKat announced the reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union of some Community trade mark questions relating to phonetic similarities between marks in Case C-223/15 Combit Software. The official English translation of those questions is now available and the UK Intellectual Property Office invites comments by 10 July 2015 which might persuade the UK government to make representations of its own. Details can be found here.
Matters arising 2. Yesterday morning the IPKat posted a guest article by Revital Cohen, "Is UberPOP a transport service? A new reference to the CJEU". Frustratingly the version of the article that was originally posted managed to de-format itself and almost all the hyperlinks vanished. The article has since been repaired and the hyperlinks restored. You can now read it here while clicking to your heart's content. Apologies to all our readers -- and of course to Revital.
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Around the weblogs 1. The SiNApSE blog runs a "young intellectuals" feature, in which bright young IP talent is interviewed. Six people have been interviewed so far, most recently Dominic D'souza. You can check the series out here. Another blog which has recently come to this Kat's attention is Chillin' Competition, composed by Pablo Ibáñez Colomo -- it's well worth a look. Meanwhile, Mark Anderson, the doyen of IP transactional bloggers, expresses in IP Draughts his own perplexity at the increasingly execrated ruling of the US Supreme Court on post-expiry royalty payments in Kimble v Marvel. Finally, from the European Commission's blog, keen holiday snappers can put their minds at rest after digesting the good news that "Europe is not banning tourist photos of the London Eye" (Katpat to Chris Torrero), a theme addressed by fellow Kat Eleonora earlier today. In short:
"Recent press reports may have left readers with the idea that the EU is about to legislate to “ban” or “censor” holiday snaps of famous monuments and art works and/or make it illegal to upload them to Facebook or Instagram. There is no such legal proposal on the table. Even if there were, it would require the agreement not only of MEPs but of a large majority of Member States, most of which, like the UK, currently apply “freedom of panorama”. That principle allows anyone to publish, even for commercial ends, images of public places, including the buildings and public art works permanently located in those places. Some other Member States, including France and Belgium, have laws which restrict – usually to non-commercial purposes – the use of such images without prior authorisation. But they do not seek to ban people from taking photos for their own pleasure. Neither is there any evidence that tourists are being dragged through French or Belgian courts simply for uploading holiday photos to their Facebook page, as the reports suggest would be the case if similar rules were extended EU-wide".
Around the weblogs 2. The MARQUES Class 46 and Class 99 weblogs both invite their readers to participate in the organisation's "tell us who you are and what you want" survey, which offers a bottle of Luxembourg Cremant as a random prize to one lucky adult respondent. Class 46 also carries Laetitia Lagarde's useful posts on proof of priority in Community trade mark (CTM) opposition proceedings and on the inevitable problems faced by anyone trying to register the word essence as a CTM for cosmetics. The jiplp weblog hosts a follow-up by Jakub Mrozowski and Michal Siciarek to Tomasz Rychlicki's earlier CTM piece on how to justify decisions while rejecting the evidence.