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Posts Tagged: "CJEU"

INTA Weighs in at CJEU on EU Parallel Imports Case

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has made an amicus submission before the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in a case concerning parallel imports and EU trademark law. (Case C-175/21 Harman International Industries, Inc. v. AB SA.) In the case at hand, Harman, which makes audiovisual equipment, brought trademark infringement proceedings in Poland against AB, a distributor. AB had put on the market goods featuring Harman’s trademarks, which it had obtained from a third party. Europe operates a system of regional exhaustion, as set out in Article 15(1) of the EUTM Regulation, and in parallel imports cases national courts have referred to “goods which have not been put on the market within the European Economic Area (EEA) by the right holder or with his consent.” (Gender-neutral language has not yet become established in EU jurisprudence). In this case, Harman argued that the goods had been imported into Poland and had not been put on the market within the EEA by Harman or with its consent. AB claimed it had received assurances when it bought the goods that the trademark rights were exhausted.

Trademark, Design and Copyright Landmarks in Europe During 2021

Last week, IPWatchdog selected five significant patent developments in Europe, examining what has happened this year and what can be expected in 2022. Here, we review five of the top trademark and copyright decisions and legislative changes across Europe and what’s coming up in the new year. One of the most significant trademark decisions of 2021 came in a case over Hasbro’s EUTM registration for MONOPOLY. The registration, for goods and services in classes 9, 16, 28 and 41, was declared invalid by the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal on the basis that Hasbro had acted in bad faith. On April 21, the EU General Court upheld that decision.

Five Key Patent Developments in Europe for 2021

As part of its review of 2021, IPWatchdog takes a look back on five patent stories from the past year in Europe, and highlights what further developments to expect in 2022. In 2021, Europe took a giant leap towards the implementation of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC). After years of delays arising from disputes over rules and language, the U.K. signing up and then withdrawing, and constitutional objections filed in Germany, it now seems highly likely that the new system will launch in late 2022. The pivotal step in this process was the decision by Germany’s Federal Constitutional on July 9 to reject as inadmissible two applications seeking to prevent the country from ratifying the UPC Agreement. (BVerfG, Beschluss des Zweiten Senats vom 23. Juni 2021- 2 BvR 2216/20 -, Rn. 1-81.) Following the decision, reported on IPWatchdog here, Germany ratified the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA, and Slovenia also did so in October.

The CHAMPANILLO Case Suggests We Need a New Way to Assess the Unique Distinctiveness of Collective PDO/PGI Marks

Under European Union (EU) law—specifically, Article 103(2) of Regulation 1308/2013—signs that qualify as protected designations of origin (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs) are shielded against any direct or indirect commercial use, as well as against any “evocation” of it that is likely to mislead a consumer as to the true origin of the product. This language raises the question of the conditions under which a sign may be said to be “evocative” of a PDO or PGI.

INTA Brief to CJEU Says Locally Significant Unregistered Trade Names Can Co-Exist with Later Registered National Trademarks

The International Trademark Association (INTA) last week submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) providing its input on the topic of whether earlier unregistered rights of local significance, like trade names, can coexist with later registered national trademarks. The case was referred by the Dutch Supreme Court.

England and Wales Court of Appeal Rules in SkyKick Trademark Case

Followers of European trademark developments will be familiar with the Sky v SkyKick litigation, in which the UK courts and the Court of Justice of the EU have addressed questions concerning trademark invalidity (see IPWatchdog report here). In the latest twist, the England and Wales Court of Appeal has reversed one of the main first instance findings. In its judgment, the Court allowed Sky’s appeal against a finding that its asserted trademarks for SKY were partially invalid due to lack of intention to use amounting to bad faith. The Court ruled that it was essential to determine whether the parts of the trademark registrations which were relied on were or were not applied for in good faith.

INTA Submits Comments to CJEU on Non-Challenge Clauses

Filing a request for revocation of a trademark, despite a non-challenge clause in a trademark agreement, constitutes an act of bad faith—according to an amicus submission filed by INTA in a case pending before the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The German Federal Supreme Court has referred two questions to the CJEU in a dispute between two formerly related companies. (Case C-62/21, Leinfelder Uhren München.) They had signed agreements in which the defendants in this case undertook not to attack the plaintiff’s trademark, nor to assist a third party to do so. However, a lawyer acting on behalf of the defendants subsequently filed revocation actions for non-use against the plaintiff’s EU trademarks. In response, the plaintiff asked the German courts for an order requiring the defendants to instruct the lawyer to withdraw the revocation actions, and also for damages.

Nokia and Harting at the CJEU: The Issues Explained

Two cases pending at the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) address, respectively, questions on the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs), and the availability of interim measures in litigation. With the hearings expected later this year, IPWatchdog looks at the key issues raised. It is relatively rare for patent cases to come before the CJEU, as there are no EU Directives or Regulations directly governing patents. However, the Court does hear patent cases when they also involve other aspects of EU law, such as Article 102 TFEU, concerning abuse of a dominant position; the Enforcement Directive; and the Biotechnology Directive. In the past few months, the German courts have referred questions in two important patent cases.

Hasbro Loses Fight Over MONOPOLY Mark in Europe

Toy maker Hasbro has been rebuked by the EU General Court, after it was found to have applied to register an EU trademark (EUTM) for MONOPOLY in bad faith. The company has owned the MONOPOLY brand since acquiring Parker Bros in 1991. It filed the EUTM application, for various goods and services in classes 9, 16, 28 and 41, in April 2010 and the mark was registered in 2011. Hasbro owned three earlier EU word marks for MONOPOLY, which were registered in 1998, 2009 and 2010 and are still live. These covered some of the same goods and services as those specified in the 2010 application. After the latest application was registered, it was attacked by a Croatian company called Kreativni Doga?aji, which argued that the application was a “repeat filing” of the earlier marks and “was aimed at circumventing the obligation to prove genuine use of those marks.”

Qualcomm Suffers Court Setback in EU Antitrust Case

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last week ruled against Qualcomm in an antitrust case over UMTS-compliant baseband chipsets. The case dates back to April 2010, when UK company Icera Inc. filed a complaint accusing Qualcomm of predatory pricing by supplying three chipsets to its customers Huawei and ZTE at below cost price…. The judgment gives the Commission the green light to seek a broad range of information in antitrust investigations, which may have implications for actions against other tech companies.

The Top Five European Patent Developments of 2020

It’s the time of year to reflect upon the cases and trends that have shaped IP over the past 12 months. Here are our picks for the top five in patents from Europe. First, it’s been a year of ups and downs for the EU’s attempt to create a Unitary Project and Unified Patent Court. (UPC) In March, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court said that the Act of Approval of the UPC Agreement in the country was void as not enough members were present at the vote. Following the UK government’s decision that it would withdraw from the project, the Court’s decision was seen as potentially a terminal blow.

CJEU Says Copyright Protection May Apply to Product Designs if Technical Result Doesn’t Prevent Creative Choice

On June 11, the Fifth Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a decision in Brompton Bicycle Ltd. v. Chedech/Get2Get in which the EU’s highest court held that European copyright law extends protection to product shapes producing a technical result when the shape is an original work resulting from the author’s intellectual creation. The decision is notable both for the CJEU’s departure from the advocate general’s opinion in the case as well as its sharp contrast to U.S. copyright law, where copyright protection is expressly prohibited for product designs that have utilitarian, functional aspects.

EU Court Says Amazon Not Liable for Unwitting Third-Party Trademark Infringement

On April 2, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a ruling absolving e-commerce giant Amazon.com of trademark infringement allegations brought by a German perfume distributor seeking redress for Amazon’s storage and distribution of brand-infringing perfume products sold by third-party sellers. The decision, issued by the CJEU’s Fifth Chamber, holds that Amazon’s mere storage of infringing goods in the context of its online marketplace does not constitute an infringement of trademark rights by Amazon.

EU Trademark Owners Relieved by CJEU Judgment in SkyKick Case

The Court of Justice of the European Union has provided reassurance to European trademark owners in its judgment today in the SkyKick case. (Case C?371/18 Sky plc, Sky International AG, Sky UK Limited v SkyKick UK Limited, SkyKick Inc.) The case involves questions referred from the UK in a dispute over SkyKick’s alleged infringement of five of Sky’s EU and UK national trademarks. Sky is a well-known broadcaster and telecoms services provider, and SkyKick is a cloud services provider. The Court stated that “a lack of clarity and precision of the terms designating the goods or services covered by a trade mark registration cannot be considered contrary to public policy, within the meaning of those provisions” and that therefore the lack of clarity and precision in a specification is not a ground for invalidity: “a Community trade mark or a national trade mark cannot be declared wholly or partially invalid on the ground that terms used to designate the goods and services in respect of which that trade mark was registered lack clarity and precision.”

Resale of E-Books Requires Copyright Authorization, Rules CJEU

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that supply to the public by downloading, for permanent use, of an e-book is covered by the concept of “communication to the public” rather than “distribution to the public.” Under Article 3(3) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (Infosoc Directive), the communication to the public right is not exhausted by any communication to the public or making available to the public. The dispute in this case was between two associations representing copyright holders on one hand and Tom Kabinet, which operates a website with a virtual market of second-hand e-books offered via a reading club, on the other hand. The associations argued that Tom Kabinet was making an unauthorized communication to the public.