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, 23 July 2012

Fromage to Catalonia? Ask before you call it Barcelona

One of Barcelona's best-known sights, the
so-called Gat del Raval, is not actually 
a cat at all but a Cattopotamus ...
Now that almost every cheese, olive and sausage in Europe seems to have been turned into a protected geographical indication, you may be wondering what remains for those clever folk who enjoy branding things to nail down with an appropriate intellectual property right or two.  Well, the IPKat's tip is place-names.  There must be hundreds and thousands of them all over Europe, just waiting to be registered for some good cause or other.  In this vein, it's worth noting a morsel of news from Christian Sirvent (attorney-at-Law,  Ballester IP, Alicante), which has reached the Kat via the ever-helpful Darren Smyth (EIP). As Christian explains:
"The City Council of Barcelona has registered before the Spanish Patent and Trade Mark Office (SPTO) the collective trade mark BARCELONA.  Use of this mark is governed by its own Regulations of Use, which lay down the conditions under which the City Council will let companies make use of the city's name for commercial purposes. Under these Regulations, this trade mark will only be used as a secondary or accessory sign, and only for goods or services related to the metropolitan area of Barcelona -- so long as that use contributes to, promotes or preserves the symbolic value, prestige and reputation of Barcelona.

This trade mark cannot be used in a misleading way which might confuse the consumer or provide deceptive information. Nor may it be used to identify low-quality goods or services or to distinguish goods and services which encourage, among other things, any xenophobic, racist, sexist or homophobic behaviour.

Although several City Councils have already registered their own trade marks, such as Madrid and Valencia, Barcelona is the first city in Spain to register its own collective trade mark in order to regulate its use. For enforcement purposes the City Council is creating the “Barcelona” Trade Mark Agency, which will be responsible for managing the mark and regulating the relationship between the Council and the mark's users. The duration of permission to use the trade mark is limited to three years, and authorization may be revoked if the Agency establish infringement of the Regulations' terms.

Once implemented, the Regulations will enable the City Council (which already owns more than 1,500 trade marks associated with the city) to act against those making improper use of BARCELONA (at present there are around half a dozen disputes over use of this name every month), and to determine who may use it.

Armed with its own collective brand, Barcelona has a two-fold objective: to combat improper use by economic operators and to promote the economic recovery and reactivation of the economy of this metropolitan area. Other city councils can be expected to follow in Barcelona's footsteps in the near future, considering the potential benefits".
Says the IPKat, after Barcelona had an unfortunate scrap over control over the barcelona.com domain name, which the city lost (Barcelona.com v Excelentisimo Ayuntamiento De Bardelona, 330 F.3d 617, 626 (4th Cir. 2003)), the city has become much more concerned about retaining control. However, he also notes that Community trade mark registrations for BARCELONA have already been secured by Anubis Cosmetics SL and Knoll Inc.  Merpel hopes that the City Council are fans of the late Freddie Mercury, who also used the city's name as the title and in the lyrics of this song.

Homage to Catalonia here

1 comment:

Andy J said...

I'm not sure this is an altogether healthy development, which ranks along side some of the IP rights claimed by the London Olympics as being somewhat ultra vires. What next: the Oxford English Dictionary claiming Trade Mark rights over the English language?

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