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, 20 February 2012

Monday miscellany

Last week the IPKat and many of his readers were busily involved in providing information for a BBC investigative radio programme on those dreadful people who send out misleading or fraudulent letters to trade mark and patent owners in relation to the renewal of their rights or their listing in valueless directories and registers.  Alas, the bit of the programme that involved scams was very short -- but at least it sent out a warning to listeners of the risk of falling for them.

This Kat has also heard from Karen Grill (Patent Watch Online) that she has arranged her collection of over 60 different scam letters in a "visual" format, which she has posted for the delectation of this blog's readers (and others!) here.  Adds Karen, "If you have any others or know of other sources, I would be glad to add them to the wall". Adds Karen (whom you can email here):
"I worked at an R&D company where we routinely received these letters addressed to the "Patent Department" or "IP Office". We, of course, ignored them. One day, our accounting department came to us with an invoice and cheque, ready to pay the fee from one of these letters. We were shocked that they had begun sending the letters directly to the "Accounting Department." We were lucky that our accountant checked with us first. But I can imagine other companies easily paying these official looking invoices - and falling victim. 
I hope that this display will help lawyers, or more likely, inventors and small businesses avoid becoming victims".
A big katpat to Karen for her efforts!  Merpel adds, is the fact that most of these letters are in English related to the perception that English-language businesses are more gullible, or do our brothers in France, Spain and beyond suffer from the same problems?


Europe's trade mark
practitioners don't need to go
to China to be baffled. They've
just emerged from the EU's
Year of the Rabbit
Chinese puzzle? No big deal, actually.  Another big katpat goes to the IPKat's friend and regular supplier of information Chris Torrero for drawing his attention to this link to a Reuters feature with the promising title "China's trademark system baffles foreign firms". It opens with the words "China's trademark system is a minefield of murky rules and opportunistic 'trademark squatters' that even the world's biggest companies and their highly-paid lawyers find hard to navigate" and goes on to describe the well-publicised difficulties faced by Apple and Facebook in preserving the sanctity of their brands.  It seems to this Kat that, if you wanted to find "a minefield of murky rules and opportunistic 'trademark squatters' that even the world's biggest companies and their highly-paid lawyers find hard to navigate", you wouldn't have to go all the way to China. Just look at the complex web of rules which baffle even Europe's finest, following a decade and a half of questions being referred for preliminary rulings and appeals in Community trade mark cases which often lead to results that are both illogical and contrary to common sense. And unkind reader of the evolving dispute over the Louboutin red sole trade mark in the United States might be forgiven for saying that murky rules of unclear application are found there too.


Fed up with the chatty informality of the blogosphere? Here's a little dose of diplomatic language to cheer you up.  It comes in the form of  PLT Notification No. 34.  The story runs like this:
"The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) presents his compliments to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and has the honor to notify the deposit by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on February 9, 2012, of its instrument of accession to the Patent Law Treaty, adopted in Geneva, on June 1, 2000.

The said Treaty will enter into force, with respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, on May 9, 2012".
Oh why can't we can't something a little more cuddly, plus hyperlinks to (i) the Patent Law Treaty and (ii) the list of countries which have signed up for it?


Catching up on their emails, the IPKat and Merpel have just discovered news of yet another juicy trade mark dispute which the German Bundesgerichtshof has decided to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): it's Case C-12/12, better known to people who can't even remember easy case numbers as Colloseum Holding AG v Levi Strauss & Co.  At stake is the deeper meaning of Article 15(1) of Council Regulation 40/94 on the Community trade mark [yes, it was repealed and replaced yonks ago, but it was presumably still in force when this litigation kicked off]: can it be interpreted as meaning that a trade mark which is part of a composite mark and which has become distinctive only as a result of the use of the composite mark can be used to preserve the rights attached to it if the composite mark alone is used.  The precise verbal formula, according to the website of the United Kingdom's Intellectual Property Office, runs like this:
"Is Article 15(1) of Regulation ... 40/94 to be interpreted as meaning that:

a trade mark which is part of a composite mark and has become distinctive only as a result of the use of the composite mark can be used in such a way as to preserve the rights attached to it if the composite mark alone is used? 
a trade mark is being used in such a way as to preserve the rights attached to it if it is used only together with another mark, the public sees independent signs in the two marks and, in addition, both marks are registered together as a trade mark?".
If you either think you know the answer and/or think the United Kingdom should get stuck in and make representations to the CJEU, you can email Carol Jenkins at policy@ipo.gsi.gov.uk -- but you have to do so before Friday 24 February 2012.


Around the weblogs. The tireless Kingsley Egbuonu, trekking round official IP websites throughout his A to Z tour of Africa on behalf of Afro-IP, has now reached Namibia, from which he has some good news (here).  The same blog  is conducting a poll as to whether the African IP Summit agenda is lacking a development dimension: you can find the poll here.  On IP Draughts, Mark Anderson asks: "When should researchers be allowed to copy each other's work?"  Down on IP Finance, Charles Kerrigan strikes a gently optimistic note in discussing prospects for IP security-based media and technology finance here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The item runs from 47:50 to 55:26 on the programme "replay".

Try not to wince when the presenter mentions that patents are for "copyrighting" an invention. Trade mark renewals are the main focus, to be fair, and they make a reasonable job of this.

At least we can now tell clients that there has been a BBC consumer program about this problem. It can only help the general awareness of the issue

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