IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia

IP Top 10: May - "Superman" Shot Down in Indonesia
IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia

IP Top 10 May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia

This month’s IP Top 10 has a host of interesting headlines for your coffee break. Without further ado – here are the ten stories (in no particular order) that raised our eyebrows in May.

Intellectual Property Remains at the Heart of US’s China Complaints

The United States has been unwavering in its criticism of China for allegedly stealing intellectual property from US companies, and imposing what the US sees as “unreasonable” technology transfer practicesto China.

The latest escalation of the same has seen President Trump’s embargo of trade relations between American companies and Huawei – who they suspect are too closely linked to the Chinese government.

US companies say that China’s judicial system is demonstrably biased and almost always decides in favor of local companies in these types of disputes. Beijing denies it.

Forbes explains the terms of conflict that both countries have over intellectual property

Psalm West” gets in on the Family Business – (Branding)

Only two weeks after he was born, Kim Kardashian registered her newborn son “Psalm West”‘s name as a trademark.

Psalm is not the first West child to be protected by a trade mark – as he joins the ranks of fellow famous toddlers “North” “Chicago” and “Saint”.

Kim Kardashian West has registered the sign in categories relating to: hair accessories, calendars and books, jewellery, home furnishings, baby supplies, dolls, clothes and more, according to documents obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Some criticism has been levelled against the Kardashian Wests in trade marking the toddler’s namesake (interpreted as a cynical financially motivated move). From an IP perspective however, it is a shrewd move. The interest around the celebrity couple and their offspring is so high that that third parties would clamour to such such a mark and profit from Psalm’s name. When considering that Kim herself is training to be a lawyer in the US, we should not be surprised at her IP savviness.

Elitedaily has more on this story.

Whytes Bikes celebrate copyright infringement victory over F1 sponsor

This claim centred around the alleged copyright infringement of Whytes’ stag logo by the prominent energy drink brand, Rich Energy Limited.

When Whytes Bikes company noticed a striking similarity between then bicycle logo (below left) and the logos displayed on F1 cars which Rich Energy sponsored (below right) – they launched a copyright infringement claim which was heard in the UK courts in March.

IP Top 10: May - Image comparing Whytes' Logo and Rich Energy's Logo. They are very similar.

The Judge found that witness, representing defendant Rich Energy, had deliberately misled the court by claiming they were not aware of Whytes logo. She continued by saying they deliberately copied the Hastings-based brand’s stag design.

The Judge found that Rich Energy had deliberately misled the court by claiming they were not aware of Whytes and she found that they deliberately copied the Hastings-based brand’s stag design.

This is a cautionary tale for marketing and branding agencies to ensure the originality of the work they produce on behalf of clients. Not only was Rich Energy found to be responsible for the infringement, the agency that they had commissioned to create the logo found themselves in court.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP have a good write up of this on Lexology.

BBC urged to “Slay in it’s Lane”

Slay in Your Lane was a best-selling book in 2018.

Slay in Your Lane was a best-selling book in 2018. Written by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, its described as the “black girl’s bible”, it is an “inspirational guide to life for a generation of black British women inspired to […] find success in every area of their lives.”

It seems Ms. Adegoke and Uviebinené’s wisdom extends to intellectual property – as they registered “Slay in Your Lane” as a word mark across a host of categories when the book came out. Such a move was proven to be very wise as the BBC used the slogan on a billboard as part of their #ChangeTheGame campaign to support women’s sports on their channels. The authors surmised that the BBC had underestimated them (they had even registered in the category for advertising services!) and would assume they would take the use of their trade mark as a compliment – however, they enforced their registered rights and proved that even the country’s largest broadcaster must respect the power of IP.

Written by the young women, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, its described as the “black girl’s bible”, it is an “inspirational guide to life for a generation of black British women inspired to […] find success in every area of their lives.”

It seems Ms. Adegoke and Uviebinené’s wisdom extends to intellectual property – as they registered “Slay in Your Lane” as a word mark across a host of categories.

Such a move was proven to be very savvy as the BBC used the slogan on a billboard as part of their #ChangeTheGame campaign to support women’s sport’s on their channels.

The authors surmised that the BBC had underestimated them (they had even registered in the category for advertising services!) and would assume they would take the use of their trade mark as a compliment – however, they have rightly enforced the trade mark.

The Telegraph and The Huffington Post both have interesting write-ups on this one.

Louis Vuitton‘s Chinese Clash

Whilst headlines are typically reserved for the broader ripostes between America and China – other complainants are railing against alleged infringement emanating from Chinese based producers. Echoing Nike’s issue with OneMix, Louis Vuitton have launched a complaint against Chinese footwear company Belle International Holdings.

The Defendant allegedly copied LV Archlight Sneakers under its brand “JIPI JAP” importing the shoes into Hong Kong before they were then exported to other cities.

The case is making its way through the courts, so a decision on this matter is some way off. But, this is the comparison that LV presented in its claim. Draw your own conclusions.

IP Top 10: May - Submission table comparing LV's trainers and Jipi Jap trainers. There is a notable degree of similarity.

Jing Daily have an interesting in-depth write up on this case.

Rod Stewart sued by photographer for sharing photograph

Another month passes and another celebrity is being sued for sharing an image of themselves which they had not taken!

We’ve seen celebrities all over the entertainment industry facing issues with copyright infringement, last month’s IP Top 10 covered GiGi Hadid’s copyright case, which is looking to establish a new precedent in this area.

Sir Rod Stewart is the latest celeb to face copyright woes. This time, the legendary singer is being sued for using a photograph of himself as a gig backdrop. Facing a damages claim of £9,999.99 from the alleged owner of the photograph, Rodders (as he is known to some), was encouraged to settle the case by the Judge, as it had ‘tears written all over it’.

The ‘Sailing’ singer (yes, you know the song) was ultimately successful in court as the claimant was unable to prove that she actual owned the copyright in the image that was the subject of the claim. As such the judge dismissed the claim and Stewart’s gig backdrop lived to sail another day.

BBC News has a comprehensive report on the facts of the case here.

Happy Birthday, GDPR!

May 25th was the 1st birthday of our favourite piece of data protection legislation – that’s right, GDPR!

Much has changed in the year since its inception and McGuireWoods reflected on some of the main developments that have cropped up in the last 12 months.

It seems that GDPR’s legacy for the first year of its existence will be the high cost that companies have had to lay out in order to comply with its provisions. However, they also note that the shift toward consumer empowerment over companies’ requirements for access to their customer’s personal information has also been a significant one. Swings and roundabouts!

This Lexology post explains more from McGuireWoods’ perspective on the controversial regulation (login required)

Indonesian Courts Kryptonite to DC’s Superman Claim

Comic book giant DC recently became embroiled in a trade mark dispute in Indonesia in relation to use of “Superman” on snack foods.

DC lost.

It seems that even though “Superman” is one of the most well recognised and beloved superheroes DC’s failure to register the word as a trade mark in Indonesia scuppered their claim.

PT Marxing Fam Makmur, a Surabaya-based food and beverage company, had already acquired Superman trademark.

DC Comics then filed a lawsuit with the Central Jakarta Commercial Court against Marxing, claiming Superman as a brand known worldwide, including Indonesia, adding that they believed Marxing had possible malicious intent for registering DC’s trade mark without prior permission or approval. The packaging suggests that PT Marxing were perhaps, somewhat inspired by the hero…

VICE have a remarkable deep-dive into this case and others like it in Indonesia

Iron Maiden claims against claim against Ion Maiden the game.

English heavy metal band Iron Maiden are suing 3D Realms amidst allegations that ‘Ion Maiden’, a retro FPS game (first-person shooter game, in case you were wondering) is causing confusion and muddying their brand. They want $2 million (£1.56m) in damages for the trade mark terror.

Ion Maiden is a pun on the words “iron maiden” though whether it’s riffing on the name of the band or the apparently-not-medieval torture device may be up for contention.

The suit claims, Blabbermouth report, that the name Ion Maiden “is nearly identical to the Iron Maiden trademark in appearance, sound and overall commercial impression.”

It claims that this similarity has been intentionally brought about by 3D Realms “in an effort to confuse consumers into believing products and services are somehow affiliated with or approved by Iron Maiden.” This is supported evidence of online posts about Ion Maiden where commenters have the impression that the two are connected.

gamesindustry.biz has a good report on this.

Supreme Italia, new legal fake takes a hit in China

Legal fakes are a relatively new phenomena across the fashion industry. The term refers to cases where a business registers a brand in a given country before the original brand owner can do so themselves.

From there, they can sell almost identical products using almost an identical marketing strategy as the one used by the original brand.

Unlike counterfeiting, the goal is not to replicate the original product, but rather to impersonate the entire brand itself – more or less without the original brand having any other legal recourse.

The most famous of these is “Supreme Italia”, who have been a thorn in the side of the original “Supreme” brand for some time.

However, at the very end of the month, in a high-profile move, China revoked their trade marks – which will come as a hammer blow to Supreme Italia in their attempt to corner “Supreme” untapped territories.

This is an interesting case, as it is a step away from the “first past the post” IP policy which reigns supreme in China (ahem). Perhaps a sign of things to come for the grey area of “legal fakes”.

The Drum have an excellent write up on this, hot off the presses!

IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia

And that is if for another month! A special thanks to Oscar Guardo for his assistance on the past three months of this IP Top 10 series. He has uncovered some truly fascinating stories for us.

Until the next month!

IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia was written by Oscar Guardo and edited by Dr. Martin Douglas Hendry and Gemma Wilson

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