With World IP Day at the back end of the month, and a host of news over the past 30 days – April was another interesting month for IP aficionados around the globe.
With an eye on all the Intellectual Property news from across the web, without further ado – here is April’s World of IP Round Up.
World of IP Round Up: The Big Ones
World IP Day: A World-wide Celebration of Female Innovators
Thursday the 26th of April was World IP Day, which saw a range of celebrations showing how trade marks, designs, copyright and patents impact everyday life.
This year’s theme was “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity” – looking specifically how female excellence, creativity and IP have gone (and continue to go) hand-in-hand.
This included a host of events around the globe, and the landmark announcement that the UK has ratified the United Patent Court agreement. This agreement, should the UPC be finalized, will ensure that invention in the UK and Europe is supported and safeguarded for years to come. (And that more pressingly, the frustrating and time-expensive process of protecting inventions via the EPO becomes a thing of the past).
One of the most interesting areas in trade mark law concerns the protection of non-traditional types of signs.
Whether it’s the unique smell found in a store, or a colour synonymous with a brand like Cadbury’s distinctive purple hue – each have an interesting story to tell when it comes to enforcement.
Nestlé executives will have probably turned a similar shade of purple this month as Mondelez’s complaint concerning the four-fingered Kit-Kit shape mark was upheld by the European Court of Justice. The decision has, once and for all, undermined the trade mark (registered in 2006) which will now likely be declared invalid. Mondelez will be delighted with this result, which many see as the riposte to Nestlé’s previous attempt to invalidate Cadbury’s aforementioned colour mark.
No riding off into the sunset for this trade mark infringer…
There is trade mark infringement; and then there is trade mark infringement. In a quite remarkable ruling, Harley-Davidson won in its largest ever trade mark claim against Michigan based SunFrog.com. Sun Frog are a company that allow customers to print: on-demand t-shirts, mugs and other customisable items. With the ability to print custom items comes the capacity for massive copyright infringement. It would appear that Sun Frog were not forthcoming in limiting Harley Davidson’s damage as widespread infringement was found to be occurring even Sun Frog had opposed a preliminary injunction on grounds that they had stopped infringing. It would appear that this rebellious attitude to infringement comes at a great cost – as Sun Frog now face a permanent injunction against selling infringing designs and a bill for £19.2 million in damages for wilful counterfeiting.
Closure, finally(?): Naruto the Monkey, PETA, and The Photographer
Can a monkey own copyright in a image it has taken of itself? Surprisingly, as a consequence of PETA’s determination to assert Naruto the Monkey’s perceived rights, this is a question that has been causing consternation in legal circles for many years. Finally, however the question may have found its answer as a judgment made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco establishes a precedent in US law that: humans can hold copyright, and animals can’t. Of particular note was the Judge’s comment upon PETA’s attempt to dismiss the case – where the organization was criticised for appearing to abandon Naruto’s claims in favour of public image self-preservation. (Say that fast three times!) It remains to be seen whether PETA will appeal the ruling.