Monday miscellany

Around the blogs. "Manufacture or repair?" is the question raised by Brian Whitehead and Richard Kempner (Kempner & Partners LLP) in a current intelligence note for the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, published ahead of time here on the jiplp weblog: this piece reviews the ruling in Schütz (UK) Limited v Werit UK Limited, Protechna SA [2010] EWHC 660 (Pat) there is no free-standing right to repair a patented product in UK patent law.  Meanwhile, the dialogue between ACID CEO Dids Macdonald and the British government as to whether deliberate design infringement should be criminalised continues today on Class 99, here.  

If you run a railway service and have ever wondered whether you are free to paint your locomotives in the colours shown here on the left, there's some good news for you.  Courtesy of the Class 46 weblog, Laetitia Lagarde brings news of an ever-so-recent bit of General Court jurisprudence on the registration of colour pairings as Community trade marks. Deutsche Bahn can't monopolise them, since they are distinctive neither by themselves nor in combination.  The big question, it seems, is whether the funny colour that isn't red is "light grey" or "dirty white".

Via the IPKat's friend and fellow blogger Ben Challis comes this report, "Superman' logo drug dealer jailed", about a drug dealer who used trade marks in order to differentiate his cocaine products.  It wasn't his own brands he was using, though, but others: Superman, F1 and the Playboy Bunny, to be precise.  According to the news item,
"A drugs kingpin who sold 1kg blocks of cocaine branded with Superman logos as a "trademark" has been jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey. Ashley Wiltshire, 31, led a gang which used presses to stamp images on the £50,000 blocks - also using "F1" and "Playboy bunny" symbols. Police seized drugs with a total street value of £500,000 at a youth club in Poplar, east London, in April and at a house in Loughton, Essex, in June. Wiltshire, of Romford, Essex, along with Larry Hammersley, 44, of Poplar, Jay Putinas, 25, of Woodford Green, Essex, and Daniel Vann, 32, of Ongar, Essex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Hammersley was jailed for six years, Putinas for four-and-a-half years, and Vann for four years, following the investigation by City of London police. Judge Martin Stephens told the men: "You did it to make money quite unconcerned about the misery that the trade would bring to so many people."He said the operation to prepare and distribute cocaine across the South East on a "very substantial scale" was "sophisticated and professionally organised". "Not only cocaine and its necessary cutting agents were recovered, but also mechanical equipment especially manufactured to process and prepare the drug, even with its own trademark for onward sale to users," he added. Police said the money Wiltshire earned funded a lavish lifestyle of high-powered cars, designer goods and an apartment in a converted manor house".
Sadly, though perhaps it's to be expected, the judge doesn't seem to have had any words of consolation for the trade mark owners.  Perhaps DC Comics might feel inclined to move, says Merpel, since at least one SUPERMAN figurative mark is registered in the UK for goods in class 5, including "pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations" and, for the young at heart, "baby aspirin".
Monday miscellany Monday miscellany Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, November 15, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Interesting question, reasonable repair. In one of our US plants, the engineers did major surgery on a valve that wasn't working properly with the particular materials we needed to pump. The valve in question wasn't itself patented, but it did form part of a patented machine, and the valve itself featured in a drawing of the relevant US patent. Presented with the facts, our US (external) attorneys said, "reasonable repair". However, the supplier of the machine was, like Queen Victoria, Not Amused, and accused us of infringement. It all went quiet after an initial flurry, so I never found out whether it was or wasn't.

    It seems reasonable to me that a patented article should be able to be repaired without problem. The problem is, when does "repair" move into "modification"? That's where things start to get tricky...


  2. Romford was removed from Essex in 1965. Since then Romford has been in London, in the London Borough of Havering in east London.


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