From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Wednesday whimsies

Nowhere is too remote for WIPO's Roving Seminar squad
Roving.  This Kat has heard today from his friends in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that the next round of its popular Roving Seminars on WIPO Services and Initiatives is about to start. This time our Roving WIPOniks are off to Australia and New Zealand. The tour commences in New Zealand with gigs in Auckland on 5 March and Wellington on 6 March. The Australian seminars open in Melbourne on 10 March, then they head for Sydney on 11 March and Brisbane on 13 March. If you are in the area and want to know what WIPO can do for you [or if you want to tell the WIPO folk what to do and how to do it better, adds Merpel], do seize this opportunity.

A recent Guardian online post tells the sad tale of Connecticut elementary school teacher Victoria Soto, who was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre back in December 2012.  Ms Soto's name has apparently been appropriated on the social media by Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists, so her family have reportedly registered her name as a US trade mark.  This Kat is not an expert on the scope of protection accorded to US trade marks, but he has substantial doubts as to whether registration of a person's name will be able to block any non-commercial use of a name in the course of social media communication, especially in a jurisdiction such as the United States in which the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech is pretty well the default position with regard to the content of any communication unless the contrary can be established. No doubt transatlantic readers will be able to clarify the position -- and the efficacy of filing trade marks in these circumstances.  A Katpat goes to Andy Johnstone for being the first of many kind souls to let us know about this.

This Kat has been perusing a story that chirruping songster Taylor Swift is cracking down on fans who have been using the peer-to-peer online sale site Etsy to sell products using her trade marks, issuing cease-and-desist letters to many sellers on the site. The same Ms Swift has been working hard to secure trade mark protection in the United States for elements of her song lyrics, such as the vivid imagery of "this sick beat" and the rather more prosaic "we never go out of style".  On these initiatives Charlie Winckworth (IP partner, Hogan Lovells) has observed:
"Securing a trade mark for a song lyric – even one as catchy as Taylor Swift's – is going to be much more difficult in the UK [and, by implication, in most of the rest of Europe] than it is in the US. That said, the terms and conditions of sites such as Etsy make it clear that you are breaching those terms and conditions if you infringe someone else's IP. Of course it is very rare that there is a definitive determination on infringement, and so a strongly worded letter from a law firm or rights management agency is likely to be enough to persuade the likes of Etsy to pull the listing – after all, it's not worth their while getting caught in the middle". 
Indeed. This Kat will be watching for further developments on the basis that, if Ms Swift's policy proves successful and cost-effective, he expects that, like her real or imagined IP rights, it will be swiftly emulated by others.

Attorney, lawyer, agent,
practitioner, licentiate?
Around the weblogs.  The celebration of two decades of the House of Lords patent biopatent ruling in Biogen v Medeva, hosted by Rouse, is happily recorded on PatLit by Rouseniks Mary Smillie and Catriona Smith. On the same blog, IPKat team member Jeremy notes an extempore decision of Mr Justice Arnold on the difficult question of controlling uncapped costs in patent proceedings that are more easily afforded by one party than another, in Canon v Badger.  The MARQUES Class 46weblog announces the publication of a new guide to trade mark use requirements in 148 countries, prepared by SMD with the assistance of MARQUES, while Class 99 qualifies an earlier blogpost by specifying that, if you want money from the UK government for researching the impact of registered and unregistered design infringement in the UK, you have to express your interest by 20 February -- or else!  Over on the Afro-IP weblog, Afro Leo has reminded us that Morocco has updated its domestic IP laws. Finally, though it's not specifically IP-based, there's a thoughtful post by IP Draughts blogger Mark Anderson on the usefulness of restricting the use of professional titles by persons providing services to clients.

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