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Thursday, 8 July 2010

"You say vuvuzela, I say lepatata ..."

We may know it as "vuvuzela", but the Zulu term is apparently "lepatata", according to the fascinating article on the subject on Wikipedia (here). We may have heard rather too much of the noise this device makes, but perhaps we shall hear a little less of the word itself, if South African company Masincedane Sport is able to enforce its Community trade mark registration for the word VUVUZELA for goods in Classes 15 (musical instruments) and 28 (Games and playthings, toys, sporting articles). According to the Telegraph,

" ... shops selling vuvuzelas could face serious financial consequences because of question marks over the ownership of the name. According to Richard Plaistowe, an intellectual property lawyer at Mills & Reeve, a South African company called has registered "vuvuzela" as a Community trade mark, which covers the whole European Union.

"If anyone imports into the UK, or sells within the UK, any horn branded as vuvuzela that was not originally placed on the market in the EU by Masincedane or with the company's consent, this would amount to an infringement," he said. Sainsbury [below, left] has got round this by calling its vuvuzela-style horns "vuvuhorns". Asda, meanwhile, said that it never stocked the horns in the first place as customers find them "irritating".
The IPKat would never cast aspersions on the validity of a registered trade mark, but he wonders whether in the United Kingdom, where the public at large has been educated by the media to identify the word "vuvuzela" with an object rather than with the notion of a single source from which objects bearing that term originate, the word can be said to perform the "essential function" of a trade mark which is so beloved of European case law. Merpel says, let's not forget that other traders have an interest in the V-word too: see, for example, here, here and here.

Vuvuzelas and health here and here
You say potato, I say tomato, here

Thank you, Jim Davies, for the link.

1 comment:

Mark Schweizer said...

the Swiss IPO and Federal Administrative Court saw this one coming and refused the registration of VUVUZELA for musical instruments (if that's what you want to call them - I believe the Nice Classification lacks a class for "torture devices"), noting that the term was descriptive and these horns would become quite popular during the World Cup. This was in 2007, summary (in German) here http://www.decisions.ch/decision/id/158

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