The paper copy of the February issue of Butterworths' Intellectual Property & Technology Cases, published by LexisNexis, has just come out (IP&T is an internet-based subscription-only law report that features cases on a rolling basis, but the electronic version is followed by hard copy for those people who enjoy reading law reports in places where electricity is a problem, such as the bathtub). This issue contains four recent cases:
* Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee, in which the House of Lords more or less says that, if you want to stop a breach of confidential information and the other party says he's acting in accordance with principles of freedom of expression, you've pretty well always got to go to court to find out whether you're entitled to do so because there aren't really any guidelines to enable you to know in advance whether you're entitled to succeed or not.
BOSTONGURKA: an ECJ reference was needed after the Swedish
courts got into a pickle over trade mark validity
* BOSTONGURKA, alias European Court of Justice case C-371/02 on how to assess whether a trade mark is distinctive when it was originally clearly distinctive but has since been regarded by many consumers (but not trade circles) as being a generic term for a type of pickled cucumber.
* Electrocoin Automatics Ltd v Coinworld Ltd, a fascinating case involving issues of trade mark validity and infringement, determined by Deputy Judge Geoffrey Hobbs QC.
* Nichols plc v Registrar of Trade Marks, alias Case C-404/02 from the European Court of Justice on how you know whether a common surname is a sufficiently distinctive sign for trade mark registration purposes. This ruling has resulted in a change in UK Registry practice and the casting aside of the practice of counting surnames in telephone directories in order to establish how likely they were to be distinctive.