25 January 2012

The Boss Of Passing Off


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Two days ago I took this picture in the Serbian town of Subotica.

As you can see, a local entrepreneur is using that very famous brand to promote their own business, obviously consisting in the provision of food and drink.

The funny thing is that Hugo Boss has a trade mark registration in Serbia (albeit not for class 43) and that the Serbian Trade Mark Act protects well-known marks.

While I didn`t feel confused that the fashion brand might have something in common with a provincial restaurant in Serbia, I could not but perceive that the local entrepreneur has undertaken serious efforts to imitate both, the trade mark and the get-up of BOSS.

Thus, do you share my view that his use of the famous mark represents an unfair advantage and is detrimental to said mark`s distinctive character?

8 December 2011

Apple’s iPad Trade Mark Bumped In China


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Image: Logo de l’iPad by Rob Janoff via Wikimedia Commons
Apple ipad

As FT.com reports, a recent Chinese court ruling prevents Apple from using “its” iPad trade mark in China.

The reason therefor

seems to lie in a dispute between Apple and the Taiwanese company Proview Electronics.
Funnily, Proview is no stranger to Apple.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2004 the Taiwanese company had registered the trade mark iPad in the EU, China, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, but in 2006

decided  to assign

it to Apple by concluding a global agreement.

When Apple started to sell its iPad devices in mainland China, they did surprisingly encounter trade mark infringement proceedings brought by Proview Technology, the Chinese affiliate of Proview Electronics. The litigation value is said to amount to 1,6 billion USD, which is absolutely ridiculous if you bear in mind that the 2006 trade mark purchase counted some

shabby 55.000 USD

Some other reports derive Proview Technology’s combativeness from that fact that it has been insolvent for some time. The Chinese branch could thus have spotted an opportunity to cash in on Apple.

It is not Apple’s first dispute over the iPad trade mark.
The Cupertino company has so far been successful in regulating the cases arising from purported infringements and I have no doubts as to how they will end up with this particular situation.

17 November 2011

Where Pizza Meets Haute Couture


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Saw this one yesterday in downtown Sofia and could not resist to take a picture and blog on it.

Later I was somewhat surprised to find out that Escada had obtained a Bulgarian registration for their trade mark already in 2003.

Could there be room for a sound dilution claim based on Art 4 (3) of the trade mark directive?

13 June 2011

Apples Growing Clouds


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Image by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

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Apple officially launched its much-hyped iCloud suite of services, applied for the registration of the trademark “iCloud” and entered the hostile territory of trade mark infringement: the Arizona based iCloud Communications LLC brought legal proceedings against Apple Inc before the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona.

Does it sound familiar? I personally felt reminded of Apple’s dispute with Fujitsu over the iPad trade mark. Indeed, the current situation is similar to the iPad case, but nevertheless distinctive in some important instances.

When I first read about the lawsuit I navigated to the US Patent and Trademark Office’ website and performed a search thereby processing the sign “iCloud”.
And you know what?
Apart from Apple’s numerous applications, there is only one US registered trade mark consisting of the iCloud sign and it is owned by the Swedish company Xcerion AB. The same is true also with respect to the Community Trade Mark  iCloud. Xcerion has registered both, the US and the Community Trade Mark for classes 9 and 42.

What follows is that iCloud Communications’ mark

Is Not A Registered One

Should they then qualify to claim infringement at all?

Yes, however not on the ground of registered trade mark infringement, but on unfair competition and false designation.
Indeed, iCloud Communications’ complaint relies on § 1125 (a) of the Lanham Act as well as on Arizona state law.
Precisely, iCloud Communications claims that Apple infringes upon the iCloud trade mark of iCloud Communications, because

By virtue of iCloud Communications’ long and extensive use of the iCloud Marks, its advertising and promotional campaigns and expenditure of substantial monies thereon, iCloud Communications had, prior to June 6, 2011, established significant goodwill and valuable rights in and ownership to the iCloud Marks in connection with computer telephony and electronic data transmission and storage services.

and

The goods and services with which Apple intends to use the “iCloud” mark are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by iCloud Communications under the iCloud Marks since its formation in 2005.

Reads pretty logical, does it not?
Well,

Besides One Thing

Apple’s attempt to register and use the iCloud mark is not the first one: iCloud Communications themselves mention the previous trade mark registration of Xcerion

whose use of the mark post-dates that of iCloud Communications by two years.

So, is there any reason why iCloud Communications omitted to sue Xcerion?

Hmm, from what I read on the Internet, some wagging tongues allege that Xcerion’s Pockets

Were Not Deep Enough

Hence, observing the development of the iPhone and iPad disputes, this one is also likely to end up in a settlement agreement.

In that event Apple will have to pay a (negligible) amount of money to operate a nursery in the clouds.

From a legal point of view, however, the matter involves the (alleged) infringement of an unregistered trade mark by a registration application.
This is not really common place and thus of a greater interest for me.
I will therefore stay focused on it.

Did I miss something? It is now you turn to add -)!