The 2 millionth EU trademark application has been reached

flag-2608475_960_720.jpgEUIPO announced the 2 millionth EUTM application which was filed by the Czech company Crefoport s.r.o.

Only in 2018, there were more than 150 000 new applications for EU trademarks. All of that shows the dynamic interest toward these trademarks from around the world. What’s more, every new applicant has to be more careful when filing new EU trademarks taking into account the possible conflicts with already registered signs. One of the option to avoid this negative perspective is conduction preliminary trademark search followed by an in-depth analysis.

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When and where Facebook has to remove illegal information – an EU perspective

pexels-photo-1471752.jpegThe Advocate General of the European Court   has given its position on case C‑18/18 Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek срещу Facebook Ireland Limited, which concerns the following:

Ms Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek was a member of the Nationalrat (National Council, Austria), chair of the parliamentary party die Grünen (‘the Greens’) and the federal spokesperson of that party.

Facebook Ireland Limited, a company registered in Ireland having its headquarters in Dublin, is a subsidiary of the United States corporation Facebook Inc. Facebook Ireland operates, for users outside the United States and Canada, an online social network platform accessible at the address http://www.facebook.com. That platform enables users to create profile pages and to publish comments.

On 3 April 2016 a user of that platform shared on their personal page an article from the Austrian online news magazine oe24.at entitled ‘Greens: Minimum income for refugees should stay’. That publication had the effect of generating on the platform a ‘thumbnail’ of the original site, containing the title and a brief summary of the article, and a photograph of the applicant. That user also published, in connection with that article, an accompanying disparaging comment about the applicant accusing her of being a ‘lousy traitor of the people’, a ‘corrupt oaf’ and a member of a ‘fascist party’. The content placed online by that user could be consulted by any user of the platform in question.

By letter of 7 July 2016, the applicant, inter alia, asked Facebook Ireland to delete that comment.

As Facebook Ireland did not remove the comment in question, the applicant brought an action before the Handelsgericht Wien (Commercial Court, Vienna, Austria) and requested that court to issue an injunction ordering Facebook Ireland to cease publication and/or dissemination of the photographs of the applicant if the accompanying message disseminated the same allegations and/or ‘equivalent content’, namely that the applicant was a ‘lousy traitor of the people’ and/or a ‘corrupt oaf’ and/or a member of a ‘fascist party’.

On 7 December 2016 the Handelsgericht Wien (Commercial Court, Vienna) made the interlocutory order applied for.

Facebook Ireland subsequently disabled access in Austria to the content initially published.

On appeal, the Oberlandesgericht Wien (Higher Regional Court, Vienna, Austria) upheld the order made at first instance as regards the identical allegations. In doing so, it did not grant Facebook Ireland’s request that the interlocutory order be limited to the Republic of Austria. On the other hand, it held that the obligation to cease the dissemination of allegations of equivalent content related only to those brought to the knowledge of Facebook Ireland by the applicant in the main proceedings, by third parties or otherwise.

The courts of first and second instance based their decisions on Paragraph 78 of the UrhG and Paragraph 1330 of the ABGB, and took the view, in particular, that the public comment contained statements which were excessively harmful to the applicant’s reputation and gave the impression that she was involved in unlawful conduct, without providing the slightest evidence in that regard. Nor, according to those courts, was it permissible to rely on the right to freedom of expression for statements relating to a politician if there was no connection with a political debate or a debate that was in the public interest.

The two parties to the main proceedings brought actions before the Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court, Austria), which considered that the statements at issue were intended to damage the applicant’s reputation, to insult her and to defame her.

The referring court is required to adjudicate on the question whether the cease and desist order made against a host provider which operates a social network with a large number of users may also be extended, worldwide, to statements with identical wording and/or having equivalent content of which it is not aware.

In that regard, the Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court) states that, according to its own case-law, such an obligation must be considered to be proportionate where the service provider was already aware that the interests of the person concerned had been harmed on at least one occasion as a result of the contribution of a recipient of the service and where the risk that other infringements would be committed is thus demonstrated.

It was in those circumstances that the Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court), by decision of 25 October 2017, received at the Court on 10 January 2018, decided to stay proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court:

‘(1) Does Article 15(1) of Directive [2000/31] generally preclude any of the obligations listed below of a host provider which has not expeditiously removed illegal information, specifically not just this illegal information within the meaning of Article 14(1)(a) of [that] directive, but also other identically worded items of information:

(a)  worldwide?

(b)  in the relevant Member State?

(c)  of the relevant user worldwide?

(d)  of the relevant user in the relevant Member State?

(2)  In so far as Question 1 is answered in the negative: Does this also apply in each case for information with an equivalent meaning?

(3)   Does this also apply for information with an equivalent meaning as soon as the operator has become aware of this circumstance?’

The Advocate’s opinion:

(1) Article 15(1) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘the Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude a host provider which operates a social network platform from being ordered, in the context of an injunction, to seek and identify, among all the information disseminated by users of that platform, the information identical to the information that has been characterised as illegal by a court that issued that injunction. In the context of such an injunction, a host provider may be ordered to seek and identify the information equivalent to that characterised as illegal only among the information disseminated by the user that disseminated that illegal information. A court adjudicating on the removal of such equivalent information must ensure that the effects of its injunction are clear, precise and foreseeable. In doing so, it must weigh up the fundamental rights involved and take account of the principle of proportionality.

(2) As regards the territorial scope of a removal obligation imposed on a host provider in the context of an injunction, it should be considered that that obligation is not regulated either by Article 15(1) of Directive 2000/31 or by any other provision of that directive and that that provision therefore does not preclude that host provider from being ordered to remove worldwide information disseminated via a social network platform. Nor is that territorial scope regulated by EU law, since in the present case the applicant’s action is not based on EU law.

(3)  Article 15(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude a host provider from being ordered to remove information equivalent to the information characterised as illegal, provided that a removal obligation does not entail general monitoring of the information stored, and is the consequence of awareness resulting from the notification made by the person concerned, third parties or another source.

Breaking news – Brazil is on the way to access the Madrid Protocol

brazil-3001462_960_720.pngMarques Class 46 reports about the forthcoming accession of Brazil to the Madrid Protocol for international registration of trademarks. The bill for that purpose has already been approved by the Parliament. Now The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to sign it in order Brazil to access the Madrid System.

This is a huge step for the country when it comes to trademark registration and it is a significant convenience for all companies that have an interest in the local market. The reason is that through Madrid Protocol you can register a trademark for Brazil easier and cheaper. Brazil is one of the few big economies that haven’t been part of the Madrid system so far. Fortunately, this will be changed as it is in the case of Canada too.

For more information here.

A successful indigo battle for O2 in The UK

telephone-booth-768610_960_720.jpgThe UK telecom O2 successfully won an opposition against a UK trademark application for Indigo Blue applied for class 41:

Arranging and conducting of concerts; Services for the showing of video recordings; Services providing entertainment in the form of live musical performances; Showing of prerecorded entertainment; Singing concert services; Song publishing; Song writing services; Songwriting; Sound recording and video entertainment services; Sound recording services; Sound recording studio services; Music concerts; Music entertainment services; Music festival services; Music performance services; Music performances; Music production; Music publishing; Music publishing and music recording services; Music publishing services; Music recording studio services; Musical concert services; Musical concerts by radio; Musical concerts by television; Musical entertainment services; Musical performances; Entertainer services; Entertainer services provided by musicians; Entertainment; Entertainment by means of concerts; Entertainment by means of radio; Entertainment by means of roadshows; Entertainment by means of telephone; Entertainment by means of television; Entertainment in the form of live musical performances (Services providing – );Entertainment in the form of recorded music (Services providing -);Entertainment in the form of television programmes (Services providing -);Entertainment services; Entertainment services for matching users with audio and video recordings; Entertainment services for matching users with computer games; Entertainment services for producing live shows; Entertainment services for sharing audio and video recordings; Entertainment services in the form of concert performances; Entertainment services in the form of musical vocal group performances; Entertainment services performed by a musical group; Entertainment services performed by musicians; Entertainment services performed by singers; Entertainment services provided by a music group; Entertainment services provided by a musical group; Entertainment services provided by a musical vocal group; Entertainment services provided by performing artists; Entertainment services provided by vocalists.

O2 invoked rights over several of its earlier EU trademarks for INDIGO  and INDIGO2 for the same class.

According to the UKIPO, both signs are very similar because of the word INDIGO. The difference between them is the word Blue and the number 2.

From a conceptual point of view, the trademarks are almost identical bearing in mind that for some of the consumers Indigo is a shade of blue. A slight difference can arise only if Indigo is perceived as purple. However, even in that case, both colors are closed.

Taking into account that the first part of the marks is identical, the UKIPO uphold the opposition in its entirety.

This is yet another case which comes to show how important is preliminary trademark clearance search. This search can help a lot in the assessment of the chances one sign has to be registered as a trademark and from another hand to avoid eventual disputes.

It is always advisable to do your homework before to file an application. This will save you time and money.

Source: WIPR.

You can search trademarks by images in Ireland and Slovakia

office-3295561_960_720.jpgEUIPO announced the new improved capabilities of TMView trademark databases, which now give options for image search of trademarks in Ireland and Slovakia. In that way, the number of countries, that allow such access to their local databases for implementation of such searches, become 13.

The option for visual search is a relatively new one but on the other hand quite useful because it gives more ground for better assessment in the case of trademark prior searches.

For more information here.

My product is better than yours – a supermarket war in Ireland

shopping-2613984_960_720.jpgAn interesting lawsuit about comparative advertisement has come to an end in Ireland.  The Irish Supreme Court has ruled in a case between the international supermarket chain Aldi and the local Dunnes Stores.

In 2013, Dunnes launched an advertisement campaign in which they compared products sold by them with such sold by Aldi. Some of the advertisements were:  “Dunnes rich and creamy yogurt, 4 x 125g”, bearing the Dunnes price of €1.99 ($2.21) and another sticker indicating that the product was the same price in an Aldi store.

On top of this, they used slogans such as “lower price guarantee” and “always better value”.

Aldi initiated a lawsuit complaining that the advertisement was misleading because the products at hand were with different characteristics.

The Supreme Court dismissed the Aldi’s allegations for most of the products. The Court noted that comparative advertising was permitted under a 2007 statute which implemented the EU’s Directive 2006/114/EC into Irish law as far as it is not misleading.

For two of the products, however, the Court ruled that the comparison wasn’t fair because their characteristics were different. The first one was a toilet paper which haа different length and the second one was a day cream with a different sun protection factor.

Source: WIPR.

Watches can be copyrightable in Sweden

pexels-photo-280253Hans Eriksson and Petter Larsson (Westerberg & Partners Advokatbyrå Ab) published quite an interesting article for Lexology that concerns a lawsuit for copyright infringement in Sweden.

Back in 2016, a local retailer started to import watches with a minimalistic design that resembled such produced and offered by the well-known Sweden watch manufacturer Daniel Wellington.

A copyright lawsuit followed. The defendant position of the retailer was that the watch design at hand wasn’t original taking into account prior art which clearly showed a variety of other watches on the market that shared similar design characteristics.

Based on this, the first instance court dismissed the copyright infringement claim.

The decision was appealed. The Patent and Market Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that there was a copyright infringement. The reason was that the authors of Daniel Wellington’s watch had made small design choices to create the watch which was sufficient for the watch originality.

Moreover, the court addressed the defendant’s mosaic of prior art components by stating that the fact that a product consists of previously known elements does not rule out copyright protection if it displays originality when considered in its entirety.