For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Patenting them darned pesky names again ...; Tell it to the Marines, Part 2

Patenting them darned pesky names again ...

The IPKat thinks that dazzling CNBC business news journalist Maria "Money Honey" Bartiromo should consider changing her lawyers, or at least let them into the secret of trade mark registration: they're advising her to patent her nickname, if the report in today's Telegraph is anything to go by.

Right: Ms Bartiromo, still smiling (presumably this shot was taken before she encountered the patent system ...)

Merpel says, perhaps the Telegraph should change its journalists - or give them better basic training in their use of legal terminology.


Tell it to the Marines ... Part 2

Back in February last year the IPKat posted a short note on
Marine Rescue Technologies v Burchill and another, a case in which the defendants applied unsuccessfully to have various IP infringement and passing off claims struck out for inordinate delay. The post added:

"The IPKat can't help wondering about this. Four and a half years into a dispute, its resolution doesn't seem to have got very far".
The IPKat has since heard from litigant Michael Burchill, who adds:

"Both parties were ordered to comply with standard disclosure by 31 January 2004 in a case which was started by the claimants with an emergency application for an injunction in 2001 served on me at 5:25 on a Thursday night with the hearing set for 10am the following Monday.

I received a list of documents by the deadline and asked for copies of all but a few documents. Despite several letters to the claimants' solicitors, most of which were ignored, I did not receive any documents until July 2006 and most of those were completey unrelated; the important ones were copies with no mention of originals. The standard disclosure form was not even filled in by them. When I raised this with Mr Justice Warren at the strike-out hearing I was told to make an application for specific disclosure even though my point was that the claimants had not complied with standard disclosure and were therefore in breach of that order. My application was made for specific disclosure, but the judge (and I was very pleased) reinstated the previous order, giving them 28 days to comply. They still have not done so and have ignored my last three letters and emails. No order was made in relation to costs for that hearing.

During the course of the case the claimants have taken extraordinary measures to destroy my business and have succeeded.

Although I cannot prove most of the activities were caused by the claimants some clearly were.

1. The police raided my office and home and that of my webmaster, taking all computers and hundreds of documents charging me under the Misuse of Computers Act, based on th fact that I was using email addresses which I claimed belonged to me. This complaint was brought by an ex-employee who was working with the claimants and whom they relied on as a substantial witness. He died last year. The police held all computers and records for 13 months with no charges being made. I incurred tax and VAT surcharges because I had no records of transactions.

2. Letters and faxes were sent to all my clients, stating that the police had seized my computers and that both the police and the trading standards were conducting further investigations. The unsigned, anonymous letters bore the fax number of the claimants daughter in law's home telephone number.

3. A letter was sent by the claimant which ended up in the hands of two parties whom I was working with on a $3m monthly contract stating that they would lose everything under the contract as ALL of my assets including trade contracts were going to be siezed by the court. As a result my company immediately lost the contract.

[...]

8. The trading standards investigated me for two years, writing to my suppliers and issuing a directive that I should stop selling the product because the claimants had registered their name as a trade mark AFTER the case had been started. I refused, but had to stop in the end because they raided my supplier.

9. My rubbish bins were regularly raided and on the last occasion documents were found some two miles away scattered in the road. I was interviewed under caution for fly-tipping.

[...]

11. I have lost my business, ... my original investment of £60k and $330,000 owed to me by the US partners. I have legal bills of over £50k and have been joined in the action as an individual. The claimant told me he will not be satisfied until he gets my house. I have borrowed some £80k over the past years.

12. The value of the sold goods in question were less than £50,000 and I bought them off the administrator of a previous business. The legal fees for the other side must be in excess of £100k by now.

[...]

14. The claimants also caused me an in-depth tax investigation followed by a VAT investigation followed by yet another in-depth investigation which trawled through both the company, my wife's and my own personal finances resulting in three years of hell and - at the end of it - a clean tax certificate.

15. My company which is a defendant and part 20 claimant is being sued by the revenue now and I have been advised to strike it off as it has not traded since 2004. This will end the part 20 claim.

I am now faced with a difficult choice. Do I apply again for specific disclosure? Do I ask the court to consider contempt of court? Or do I apply for another strike out as I now feel my case has been prejudiced? Or wait again and let the issue drag on and on?"
If any reader of this post has any constructive suggestions that might aid or comfort Mr Burchill, can he or she please email him here. More to the point, although he does not have access to the court records and has received no information from the claimants in these proceedings, the IPKat feels that no legal justice system can tolerate an action of this nature, which apparently began in 2001, dragging on in this manner.

Merpel adds, whether it is a matter of poor case management, of dilatory activity on the part of a litigant or anything else, some sort of explanation should be forthcoming, if only to exculpate the innocent and/or to warn prospective litigants of what they might expect if this case is typical of others.

3 comments:

Guy said...

The Patent Office site had a most useful downloadable booklet : "Journalists' Guide to Intellectual Property". Sadly it does not seem to be there any more. More sadly few journalists seem to have read it.

Anonymous said...

well... maybe the name does have a technical effect capable of industrial application. But, I fear the UKIPO might object on the basis of public morality.

rj

David said...

At least Ms Bartiromo's lawyers appear to be doing their job properly. I notice 8 new applications in her name (ranging from serial #77083967 to #77084008), all filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office on 16 January 2007. She might, however, have a problem with existing registered rights in the same name owned by an Australian fruit machine company (Registration #2952592), and in the name "Muni $ Huni", registered by a Californian textile company (Registration #3002677).

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