February ETMR now published

The February 2015 issue of the European Trade Mark Reports (ETMR), a series of law reports published monthly by Sweet & Maxwell, is now available. The ETMR contains English-language reports, together with informative headnotes, of recent decisions from national and EU courts and intellectual property offices.  

This issue usually contains reports on several decisions. This issue however contains just two cases, but they are unusually long ones:
* Interflora Inc and Interflora British Unit v Marks & Spencer Plc, in which the Court of Appeal for England and Wales -- in national litigation following the Court of Justice ruling -- allows the defendant's appeal and remits the case for a fresh trial before a different trial judge;
* Intra-Presse SAS v OHIM, Golden Balls Ltd, where the Court of Justice of the European Union hears an appeal in a fierce Community trade mark opposition battle between the owners of the earlier Community trade mark BALLON D'OR and the applicant's mark GOLDEN BALLS.
MARQUES members are again reminded that, if they have been involved in European trade mark litigation which is of significant interest, and if they can provide an English-language text of the full decision of the court, the ETMR will be delighted to consider it for publication.
Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 10.31
Tags: ETMR,
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Switzerland: renewal snatching is unfair competition

A WIPO expert's decision under the SWITCH dispute resolution policy (for .ch and .li domains) is the first case under Swiss law that deals with "renewal snatching", i.e. registering lapsed domain names (also called extension exaggeration, or alert angling).

The facts of the case are such that the Claimant is the owner of a Swiss trademark for SHOP4 covering various advertising and software related services in classes 35 and 42 ("the Trademark") which was registered on January 19, 2010.

A company affiliated with the Claimant (Internet Explorer GmbH which is managed and controlled by the same person and of which the Claimant is a partner – "Gesellschafter") was the owner of the Domain Name until July 21, 2014 until that company lost the Domain Name because of apparent problems of communication with SWITCH which caused the renewal payment to be late.

The Domain Name was registered on August 5, 2014. It resolves to a website on which sport shoes are offered for sale and redirects to another domain name for this purpose (i.e.) which reflects the NIKE trademark, whereby shoes of different brands are offered for sale on this website (i.e. NIKE and BIRKENSTOCK).

The expert held that there was no clear infringement of Claimant's trade mark rights due to the lack of similarity of the products for which the SHOP4 mark claimed protection and the goods offered on Respondent's website.

He held, however, that the snatching of the domain name was unfair competition and ordered the transfer of the name. In the expert's view, the Respondent's conduct violated the Swiss Unfair Competition Act (UCA). The Respondent's action of registering the Domain Name immediately after a company affiliated to the Claimant lost the registration of the Domain Name because of an error during the renewal process, amounted to an unfair and unlawful practice within the meaning of Article 2 UCA.

While the "first come, first served" rule applied for ".ch" domain names as provided by article 2.2 of the General Terms and Conditions (GTC) for the registration and administration of domain names under the domain ".ch" and ".li", this rule did not and cannot prevent from holding that the registration and use of a domain name can constitute a violation of third party rights in certain circumstances.

A company affiliated with the Claimant was the registrant of the Domain Name until July 2014 and the Claimant was the legitimate owner of a trademark for SHOP4 in Switzerland since 2010 (i.e. the Trademark) that is reflected in the Domain Name. Respondent has not participated in these proceedings and it has not conclusively pleaded and proven any relevant grounds for defense. No justifiable reasons have been brought forward by the Respondent in order to justify its conduct, particularly about the choice to register the Domain Name (which corresponds exactly to the Trademark registered by the Claimant in Switzerland) very shortly after it was available for registration. In addition, this Expert noted that the Respondent could not be reached by the Claimant under the registered WhoIs contact information which corroborated further the impression of unfair conduct in this case.

The outcome of the case is correct in my opinion, but the expert carefully avoided addressing the big elephant in the room: under the SWITCH dispute resolution policy, domain names can only be transferred or cancelled in case of a clear infringement of a right in a distinctive sign 

An elegant way of achieving substantially the same outcome might have been to simply point out to the registrar that the WHOIS information was likely false (given that noone could be reached there), which is ground for cancellation of the domain name registration (SWITCH General Terms and Conditions, Sect. 3.3.2)

Case No. DCH2014-0021 of 26 December 2014

Posted by: Mark Schweizer @ 15.21
Tags: Switzerland, domain name, dispute resolution, renewal snatching,
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New IP blog on pharmaceutical trade marks

I am pleased to bring a newly launched blog to our readers' attention. is an IP blog exclusively dedicated to pharmaceutical trade marks. The blog covers all relevant European and German case law on the topic. In addition to regular posts, case reviews will be included in a monthly newsletter and in an annual journal. The latter will also include exclusive articles. The first edition will feature various articles on the protection of product packaging. While the blog is currently written in German only, the newsletter and the magazine will also feature English abstracts and summaries.

I trust that many readers of Class 46 will appreciate this easy to use platform and its specialised, high quality content.

The blog is intended as an open platform and any Class 46 reader who would like to contribute is welcome to contact the blog's editor, my esteemed colleague David Slopek, at

Posted by: Anthonia Ghalamkarizadeh @ 11.04
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New pharma marks blog welcomes contributors

A newly-launched blog may be of interest to Class 46 readers: it's, an IP blog exclusively dedicated to pharmaceutical trade marks. The blog covers all relevant European and German case law on pharmaceutical trade marks. In addition to regular posts, case reviews are promised in a monthly newsletter as well as in an annual journal which will also include exclusive articles on pharmaceutical trade marks. The first edition will feature various articles on the importance and protectability of product packaging.

While the blog is currently in German only, the newsletter and the magazine will also feature English abstracts and summaries.

Many readers of Class 46 will no doubt appreciate the easy to use platform and specialised high quality content. The blog is intended to be an open platform and any Class 46 reader who would like to contribute is welcome to contact the blog's editor David Slopek (

Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 11.03
Tags: blogs, pharmaundmarke,
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General Court: Cat&Clean v. Clean Cat

The General Court just issued a Judgment in  Case T-587/13 (cat&clean) where our dear colleagues at IPKat make the relevant consumer per excellence.

Image not foundMrs  Schwerdt filed for the CTM (here left) for class 31 “cat litter”. Iberamigo SA filed an opposition on the basis of earlier Spanish word mark CLEAN CAT (a pleonasm in itself) for “litter soil” in Class 31.

Both the Opposition Division and Board of Appeal granted the opposition: visually, the conflicting signs coincide with the words "cat" and "clean", although they are not placed in the same order, and differed in their figurative elements. Aurally, the signs at issue were similar to a medium level and, conceptually, those signs convey the same concept, except for part of the Spanish public who doesn’t understand English.  The earlier mark has a distinctive character. Thus there is a likelihood of confusion between the signs for identical goods.

The General Court rejected the first plea in law brought by the CTM applicant and confirmed the risk of confusion on the grounds of Article 8 (1) b)CTMR.

The appellant saw its two other pleas in law rejected as well:

1)      the claim that the possible to register a descriptive sign such as “Clean cat” for ‘cat litter’ in Spain would constitute a disguised restriction on trade contrary to Article 34 TFEU. The Court dismissed this argument reminding the applicant that the distinctive character of the earlier mark cannot be disputed in the context of an opposition  procedure (see Judgment of  24 may 2012, Formula One Licensing/OHMI).

2)      As regards an alleged violation of articles 16 and 20 of the Fundamental Rights convention, article 17 provides for the “peaceful enjoyment of property rights” including IP rights, therefore the opponent has an intellectual property right that has not been challenged, and which effects which cannot be challenged in these proceeding.

 The GC dismissed the appeal.

Posted by: Laetitia Lagarde @ 14.11
Tags: General court, cat, clean, litter,
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WIPO Roving Seminars head for Brussels

Since the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) is such a distinguished and highprofile institution in the world of intellectual property, and since "Benelux" is such a famous brand for a group of countries, it should not be forgotten that Belgium is a country in its own right, with its own beers, chocolates and IP office. Indeed, it is the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property (OPRI), together with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and BOIP, which is hosting an upcoming half-day WIPO Roving Seminar next month in Brussels.

The seminar, descriptively entitled “WIPO Services and Initiatives”, takes place on 23 February 2014 from 9:00 till 13:00. At this event, senior WIPO representatives will lead an interactive programme of discussions that will be of interest to anyone involved in the international protection of IP rights.

Participation is free of charge but registration is obligatory. More information and the registration form can be accessed by clicking here.

There's no need to bring your own beer or chocolates, since refreshments and indeed lunch are provided.

Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 10.13
Tags: WIPO, Roving Seminars, Belgium,
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"Intellectual Property: Use it or Lose it?",

The CIPIL Annual Spring Conference 2015, "Intellectual Property: Use it or Lose it?", takes place in the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, on Saturday, 7 March 2015, from 10.00 am-5.00 pm.  According to the organisers:

This one day conference seeks to explore the apparently increased place of the obligation of use within intellectual property law. We begin with a review of recent developments in case-law and legislation across the three fields (trade marks, patents, copyright). We conclude by reflecting on the relationship between obligations to use and property rights, the harms caused by those holding but not using IPRs, and various ways in which use might be incentivised (including pricing mechanisms imposing penalties for non-use), and issues of territoriality.

Different fields of intellectual property law operate with different expectations as to whether an intellectual property right owner will exploit their intellectual property, and how the law should respond if the rightholder decides not to do so.

Trade mark protection was (in Britain, at least), for some time, premised on the idea that the trade mark owner was using the mark, and, even when registration came to be permitted prior to use, provisions were introduced limiting the effects of marks that had not been used and making possible their revocation. In passing off, if a trader who has built up goodwill ceases to trade (or ceases simply to use the sign with which the goodwill has become associated), the goodwill is presumed gradually to dissipate.

Patents and copyright are also addressed in light of the same theme. Mr Justice Arnold is in the chair and speakers include Hazel Carty (University of Manchester, on Dissipation of goodwill), Emma Himsworth QC (One Essex Court, on genuine use), Professor Robert Burrell (University of Sheffield, on proper reasons for non-use), Professor Robert Bone (University of Texas, on what is wrong with not using IP?), Henning Grosse-Ruse Khan (University of Cambridge, on the idea of use in the global marketplace) and Professor Georg von Graevenitz (UEA London, on empirical evidence and incentives to use).

MARQUES Council Member Roland Mallinson has asked Class 46 to bring this unusual and highly-focused event to the attention of our readers, which we are happy to do.

There is also a drinks reception kindly, sponsored by Cambridge University Press

Cost: £90 (full rate), £65 (academic rate), £45 (student rate). To book a place via the electronic booking system here, or email Sophie Eastwood here.

Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 22.50
Tags: CIPIL spring conference 2015,
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