Monday miscellany

The Kat couldn't find any 800-FLOWERS marks
on an internet search, but he did find this
delightful transatlantic mark, which carries the
none-too-common 'SM' ("service mark") sign
Last week, while the Kats joined in the global celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the Community trade mark (CTM) system, Merpel wondered how many of the CTM applications with a filing date of 1 April 1996 were still pending.  One reader has responded with the following:
"... a search in CTM Online reveals that 14,420 CTMs with filing date 1/4/1996 are currently registered. The same source, incidentally, shows that 13 CTMs filed on that date are still in opposition proceedings, 15 years later".
Another, consulting the same database on the same day, adds that there are
"... three more with status "Appeal pending". Among them [i.e. the 13 + 3] are some marks familiar to readers of law reports, such as 800-FLOWERS, GALILEO, VITALITE and BUD".

It's an ill wind that blows no-one any good, and so it is for the Copyright Clearance Center.  While Judge Denny Chin's refusal to accept the proposed Google Books Settlement may have left rights-owning organisations wailing about the money they're not going to be receiving and Google gnashing its teeth over the money it's not (yet) going to be making, the CCC is having a field day.  The Washington Post ran an editorial last week in which it called for a collective licensing organisation that could disburse royalty payments to rights holders.  In response, CCC's CEO Tracey Armstrong was able to assert its credentials as exactly that organisation.

Sectors from which cyberquatting complaints originate:
retail, banking and bio/pharma are worst affected
"Cybersquatting Hits Record Level, WIPO Center Rolls out New Services": one of these messages is bad news, the other good, but the World Intellectual Property Organization 's media machine has rolled them together here.  In short. in 2010 , trade mark holders filed 2,696 cybersquatting complaints which covered 4,370 adversely-registered domain names with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) under procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).  While this figure represents an increase of 28% over the 2009 level and of 16% over the previous record year, 2008, the IPKat hopes that this data won't be taken at face value. The increased volume of complaints may reflect an increase in cybersquatting, it's true -- but they may equally reflect greater confidence in WIPO's dispute resolution services or more effective detection and therefore an increasing awareness of typosquatters and other off-centre cyber-foes on the part of trade mark owners themselves.  Be that as it may, "Parties took advantage of user-friendly online facilities such as the WIPO-initiated paperless eUDRP, the Legal Index of WIPO UDRP Decisions, and the Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions (WIPO Overview) to assist their case preparation and submission".

The IPKat and Merpel thank some very enthusiastic readers for sending them a link to "The Google Broccoli Kitten Settlement", which they also thought was quite cute. The Kats also take this opportunity to remind all readers that this is a weblog on intellectual property which is authored by Kats, not a weblog on felines which is written by intellectual property lawyers.

Around the blogs.  If you've ever wondered how much (or how little) use has been made of the Community trade mark system by African countries, Kingsley Egbuonu has put together some data, based mainly on the ECOWAS countries. which you can find on Afro-IP here.  Two little gems on the jiplp weblog are this note by Pessi Honkasalo on a recent Finnish ruling on the parallel importation of repackaged pharma products and, with Easter coming soon, fellow Kat Birgit's analysis of the current state of registrability of chocolate animal shapes in "The chocolate menagerie: the General Court decides on bunny, reindeer and mouse shapes", here.  Troubled by copyright moral rights issues involving tattoos? If so, you're not alone. Followers of the 1709 Blog have been advising one troubled reader here.

The IPKat thanks his friend Chris Torrero for this link to "Small businesses need to do more to protect their ideas", more research from the UK's Intellectual Property Office.  This claims that "only 15 percent of small companies have ever sought advice on safeguarding their ideas. Only 11 percent of firms overall assign responsibility for managing intellectual property (IP) rights. This is compared to 43 per cent of larger companies, meaning that smaller enterprises risk missing out on valuable income from their creativity".  More interestingly,
"This is the second awareness survey commissioned by the IPO. It involved 20,000 businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors across the UK, and aimed to find out their level of awareness about intellectual property including trade marks, patents, copyright and designs".
The IPKat is too busy answering readers' emails to have a go at this, but he feels that someone needs to go through the research findings (60 pages, here) and put them into some sort of perspective. After all, "20,000 businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors" must include a large number of businesses that either have no meaningful IP at all, or none that's worth worrying about.  Any volunteers to write a critique? Just email the IPKat here and let him know.
Monday miscellany Monday miscellany Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, April 04, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. I do a lot of photographic work for a small fashion company and have in the past discussed IP protection with them. Their reasoning for not taking pro-active measures (eg registering designs, pursuing competitors who copy their designs etc) is that it just isn't cost effective. They produce four collections per year, each of between 15-25 garments, so registering the designs would cost upwards of £400 for each season's collection, and obviously such rights would then cost a great deal to enforce, often against companies based in Vietnam or elsewhere where the prospect of bringing a successful suit is minimal. And as the 'shelf-life' of each design is relatively short, the cost outweighs any possible gain. The best 'protection' lies in comparing the quality of the original and the copy.
    I'm sure that many small companies take a similar pragmatic view.

  2. For a proper analysis of WIPO's nonsense press release, one should consider that the proportion of UDRPs to domains registered has only been lower once in the last decade - and that was in 2009.

    Also, there has been an increase in the number of factory filing of cases brought by "IP rights management" companies - the IP equivalent of ambulance chasers.

    So the real story here (if there is one) is that there are fewer cybersquatters than before; and there are more “IP rights management” companies trying to create work for themselves.

    Nice one WIPO - more tabloid style PR nonsense!


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