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.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Five bad Apples -- and look what's in store for IKEA ...

Recently this Kat wrote about a number fake Apple stores in Kunming in China. Since posting, Chinese officials have found five fake Apple stores in Kunming. However, only two of the five stores have been shut down. Somewhat surprisingly, the two stores were closed because they did not possess a business licence required for all commercial retail operations, not because they had infringed Apple's IP rights.

Apple has now taken matters into its own hands and filed a lawsuit for infringement of its trade marks in the US District Court in the Eastern District of New York against three companies and approximately 52 named and John Doe defendants. Exact details of the lawsuit are unknown at this stage because the documents are sealed to all except for legal counsel and the parties involved. However, CNET reports that Apple has filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order as well as a preliminary injunction on the named defendants.

It would appear that Apple is not the only target in Kunming: last week, a number of outlets reported that Kunming also has a fake IKEA, a store is called '11 Furniture'. The first thing to note is that 11 Furniture's Chinese name 'Shi Yi Jia Ju' sounds very much like IKEA's Chinese name 'Yi Jia Jia Ju'. The second is that, inside, the look and feel of the store is virtually identical to expected in an authorised IKEA outlet. For instance, there is the similar blue-and-yellow colour scheme, signage, mock-up rooms, rocking chairs, miniature pencils and mininalist wooden tables in the cafeteria.

In a statement to the Daily Mail, IKEA stated:

Inter IKEA Systems B.V, the worldwide franchisor and owner of the IKEA Concept, sees it as very important to protect the intellectual property rights. We have reported it to Inter IKEA Systems B.V and they are dealing with this matter together with their legal counsel. The best thing we can do to prevent such stores from opening up in the future is to open more stores and make the IKEA products available to more people.
Chinese law prohibits firms from copying the 'look and feel' of other brands' stores. However, Chinese businesses frequently take advantage of problems in enforcing the law (such as low awards of damages and difficulty in enforcing judgments), unfortunately resulting in situations such as those with Apple and IKEA.

"I'm sure this wasn't the way in",
muttered Merpel ...
The IPKat, a simple soul, is wondering whether someone was teasing him about that US application filed by a Chinese inventor for a business method patent that related to a means of attracting goodwill by replicating a target company’s store fittings, trade dress and other indicia of reputation. Merpel is of course far too brave to confess to such thing as a phobia of entering an IKEA store, legitimate or otherwise, for fear that she is going to get stuck in the middle of a furniture maze and will have to scratch, scratch, scratch all the way out ...

1 comment:

Alan said...

Could someone please explain the benefit to Apple in filing lawsuits in the USA for an infringement alleged to be taking place in China? Or is there a military invasion and occupation imminent that I've not yet heard about?

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':