Why are indications of intellectual property so important?

The issue with use of intellectual property, including its licensing and the related signs used to indicate this in a proper way is crucial and strategic for every company. While some companies underestimate this issue others do not. An interesting example for the last one is this wipes which are branded with “Minions” characters owned by Universal. Although, this is ordinary everyday products, all intellectual property objects are indicated very clearly.

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Why this is important?

This approach is strategic in many cases such as unfair competition, trademark and copyright conflicts and so on. Sometimes the IP owner have to prove that he uses its intellectual property in a trade way, for example in the current case that these characters are trademarks and not decorative elements. To do this the owner must use indications such as TM, R, Резултат с изображение за Copyright. In this way, the right holder shows clearly that these are protected objects which in its turn is important in case of lawsuits and can serve as a strong evidence in that regard.

Cambodia joins the PCT

flag_of_cambodia-svgWIPO reports about the accession of Cambodia to  the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In this way Cambodia has become the 151st member of the PCT which facilitates significantly international registration of inventions.The Treaty will come into force for the country on 08.12.2016.

More information here.

WI-FI access and copyright responsibility – an European court decision

wifi-sticker-logoThe European court ruled in case C‑484/14 Tobias Mc Fadden v Sony Music Entertainment Germany GmbH. The case concerns the following:

Mr Mc Fadden runs a business selling and leasing lighting and sound systems.

He operates an anonymous access to a wireless local area network free of charge in the vicinity of his business. In order to provide such internet access, Mr Mc Fadden uses the services of a telecommunications business. Access to that network was intentionally not protected in order to draw the attention of customers of near-by shops, of passers-by and of neighbours to his company.

Around 4 September 2010, Mr Mc Fadden changed the name of his network from ‘mcfadden.de’ to ‘freiheitstattangst.de’ in reference to a demonstration in favour of the protection of personal data and against excessive State surveillance.

At the same time, by means of the wireless local area network operated by Mr Mc Fadden, a musical work was, made available on the internet free of charge to the general public without the consent of the rightholders. Mr Mc Fadden asserts that he did not commit the infringement alleged, but does not rule out the possibility that it was committed by one of the users of his network.

Sony Music is the producer of the phonogram of that work.

By letter of 29 October 2010, Sony Music gave formal notice to Mr Mc Fadden to respect its rights over the phonogram.

Following the giving of formal notice, Mr Mc Fadden brought an action for a negative declaration (‘negative Feststellungsklage’) before the referring court. In reply, Sony Music made several counterclaims seeking to obtain from Mr Mc Fadden, first, payment of damages on the ground of his direct liability for the infringement of its rights over the phonogram, second, an injunction against the infringement of its rights on pain of a penalty and, third, reimbursement of the costs of giving formal notice and court costs.

In a judgement of 16 January 2014, entered in default of Mr Mc Fadden’s appearance, the referring court dismissed Mr Mc Fadden’s action and upheld the counterclaims of Sony Music.

Mr Mc Fadden appealed against that judgment on the ground that he is exempt from liability under the provisions of German law transposing Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31.

In the appeal, Sony Music claims that the referring court should uphold the judgment at first instance and, in the alternative, in the event that that court should not hold Mr Mc Fadden directly liable, order Mr Mc Fadden, in accordance with the case-law on the indirect liability (Störerhaftung) of wireless local area network operators, to pay damages for not having taken measures to protect his wireless local area network and for having thereby allowed third parties to infringe Sony Music’s rights.

In the order for reference, the referring court states that it is inclined to regard the infringement of Sony Music’s rights as not having been committed by Mr Mc Fadden personally, but by an unknown user of his wireless local area network. However, the referring court is considering holding Mr Mc Fadden indirectly liable (Störerhaftung) for failing to have secured the network from which its rights were infringed anonymously. Nevertheless, the referring court wishes to know whether the exemption from liability laid down in Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, which has been transposed into German law by the first sentence of Paragraph 8(1) of the Law on electronic media, might preclude it from finding Mr Mc Fadden liable in any form.

In those circumstances, the Landgericht München I (Regional Court, Munich I, Germany) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

1.  Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 2(a) of that directive and Article 1(2) of Directive 98/34, to be interpreted as meaning that the expression “normally provided for remuneration” means that the national court must establish:

a. whether the person specifically concerned, who claims the status of service provider, normally provides that specific service for remuneration,

b. whether there are on the market any providers at all who provide that service or similar services for remuneration, or

c.  whether the majority of these or similar services are provided for remuneration?

2. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 to be interpreted as meaning that the expression “provision of access to a communication network” means that the only criterion for provision in conformity with the directive is that access to a communication network (for example, the internet) should be successfully provided?

3. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 2(b) of that directive, to be interpreted as meaning that, for the purposes of “anbieten” (“provision”) within the meaning of Article 2(b) [of that directive], it is sufficient for the Information Society service to be made available, that being, in this case, the making available of an open [wireless local area network] WLAN, or is “advertising”, for example, also necessary?

4. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 to be interpreted as meaning that the expression “not liable for the information transmitted” precludes as a matter of principle, or in any event in relation to a first established copyright infringement, any claims for injunctive relief, damages or the payment of the costs of giving formal notice or court costs which a person affected by a copyright infringement might make against the access provider?

5. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 12(3) of that directive, to be interpreted as meaning that the Member States may not permit a national court, in substantive proceedings, to make an order requiring an access provider to refrain in future from enabling third parties to make a particular copyright-protected work available for electronic retrieval from an online exchange platform via a specific internet connection?

6. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 to be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings, the rule contained in Article 14(1)(b) of Directive 2000/31 is to be applied mutatis mutandis to an application for a prohibitory injunction?

7. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 2(b) of that directive to be interpreted as meaning that the requirements applicable to a service provider are limited to the condition that the service provider be any natural or legal person providing an Information Society service?

8. If the seventh question is answered in the negative, what additional requirements must be imposed on a service provider for the purposes of interpreting Article 2(b) of Directive 2000/31?

9. Is the first half-sentence of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, taking into account the existing protection of intellectual property as a fundamental right forming part of the right to property (Article 17(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) and the provisions of Directives 2001/29 and 2004/48, and taking into account the freedom of information and the fundamental right under EU law of the freedom to conduct a business (Article 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union), to be interpreted as not precluding a national court from deciding, in … proceedings in which an access provider is ordered, on pain of payment of a fine, to refrain in the future from enabling third parties to make a particular copyright-protected work or parts thereof available for electronic retrieval from an online (peer-to-peer) exchange platform via a specific internet connection, that it may be left to the access provider to determine what specific technical measures to take in order to comply with that order?

Does this also apply where the access provider is in fact able to comply with the court prohibition only by terminating or password-protecting the internet connection or examining all communications passing through it in order to ascertain whether the particular copyright-protected work is unlawfully transmitted again, and this fact is apparent from the outset rather than coming to light only in the course of enforcement or penalty proceedings?’

The Court’s decision:

1. Article 12(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 (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), read in conjunction with Article 2(a) of that directive and with Article 1(2) of Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on information society services, as amended by Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 July 1998, must be interpreted as meaning that a service such as that at issue in the main proceedings, provided by a communication network operator and consisting in making that network available to the general public free of charge constitutes an ‘information society service’ within the meaning of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 where the activity is performed by the service provider in question for the purposes of advertising the goods sold or services supplied by that service provider.

2. Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that, in order for the service referred to in that article, consisting in providing access to a communication network, to be considered to have been provided, that access must not go beyond the boundaries of a technical, automatic and passive process for the transmission of the required information, there being no further conditions to be satisfied.

3. Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that the condition laid down in Article 14(1)(b) of that directive does not apply mutatis mutandis to Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31.

4. Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 2(b) of that directive, must be interpreted as meaning that there are no conditions, other than the one mentioned in that provision, to which a service provider supplying access to a communication network is subject.

5. Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that a person harmed by the infringement of its rights over a work is precluded from claiming compensation from an access provider on the ground that the connection to that network was used by a third party to infringe its rights and the reimbursement of the costs of giving formal notice or court costs incurred in relation to its claim for compensation. However, that article must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude such a person from claiming injunctive relief against the continuation of that infringement and the payment of the costs of giving formal notice and court costs from a communication network access provider whose services were used in that infringement where such claims are made for the purposes of obtaining, or follow the grant of injunctive relief by a national authority or court to prevent that service provider from allowing the infringement to continue.

6. Having regard to the requirements deriving from the protection of fundamental rights and to the rules laid down in Directives 2001/29 and 2004/48, Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 12(3) of that directive, must be interpreted as, in principle, not precluding the grant of an injunction such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which requires, on pain of payment of a fine, a provider of access to a communication network allowing the public to connect to the internet to prevent third parties from making a particular copyright-protected work or parts thereof available to the general public from an online (peer-to-peer) exchange platform via an internet connection, where that provider may choose which technical measures to take in order to comply with the injunction even if such a choice is limited to a single measure consisting in password-protecting the internet connection, provided that those users are required to reveal their identity in order to obtain the required password and may not therefore act anonymously, a matter which it is for the referring court to ascertain.

EU copyright reform – proposals

european-union-flagThe European commission published its proposals concerning the Community regulation of copyright. Briefly the Commission propose the following:

1. Better choice and access to content online and across borders

With our proposal on the portability of online content presented in December 2015, we gave consumers the right to use their online subscriptions to films, music, ebooks when they are away from their home country, for example on holidays or business trips. Today, we propose a legal mechanism for broadcasters to obtain more easily the authorisations they need from right holders to transmit programmes online in other EU Member States. This is about programmes that broadcasters transmit online at the same time as their broadcast as well as their catch-up services that they wish to make available online in other Member States, such as MyTF1 in France, ZDF Mediathek in Germany, TV3 Play in Denmark, Sweden and the Baltic States and AtresPlayer in Spain. Empowering broadcasters to make the vast majority of their content, such as news, cultural, political, documentary or entertainment programmes, shown also in other Member States will give more choice to consumers.

Today’s rules also make it easier for operators who offer packages of channels (such as Proximus TV in Belgium, Movistar+ in Spain, Deutsche Telekom’s IPTV Entertain in Germany), to get the authorisations they need: instead of having to negotiate individually with every right holder in order to offer such packages of channels originating in other EU Member States, they will be able to get the licenses from collective management organisations representing right holders. This will also increase the choice of content for their customers.

To help development of Video-on-Demand (VoD) offerings in Europe, we ask Member States to set up negotiation bodies to help reach licensing deals, including those for cross-border services, between audiovisual rightholders and VoD platforms. A dialogue with the audiovisual industry on licensing issues and the use of innovative tools like licensing hubs will complement this mechanism.

To enhance access to Europe’s rich cultural heritage, the new Copyright Directive will help museums, archives and other institutions to digitise and make available across borders out-of commerce works, such as books or films that are protected by copyright, but no longer available to the public.

In parallel the Commission will use its €1.46 billion Creative Europe MEDIA programme to further support the circulation of creative content across borders . This includes more funding for subtitling and dubbing; a new catalogue of European audiovisual works for VoD providers that they can directly use for programming; and online tools to improve the digital distribution of European audiovisual works and make them easier to find and view online.

These combined actions will encourage people to discover TV and radio programmes from other European countries, keep in touch with their home countries when living in another Member State and enhance the availability of European films, including across borders, hence highlighting Europe’s rich cultural diversity.

2. Improving copyright rules on research, education and inclusion of disable people

Students and teachers are eager to use digital materials and technologies for learning, but today almost 1 in 4 educators encounter copyright-related restrictions in their digital teaching activities every week. The Commission has proposed today a new exception to allow educational establishments to use materials to illustrate teaching through digital tools and in online courses across borders.

The proposed Directive will also make it easier for researchers across the EU to use text and data mining (TDM) technologies to analyse large sets of data. This will provide a much needed boost to innovative research considering that today nearly all scientific publications are digital and their overall volume is increasing by 8-9% every year worldwide.

The Commission also proposes a new mandatory EU exception which will allow cultural heritage institutions to preserve works digitally, crucial for the survival of cultural heritage and for citizens’ access in the long term.

Finally, the Commission is proposing legislation to implement the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, have other visual impairments or are otherwise print disabled. These measures are important to ensure that copyright does not constitute a barrier to the full participation in society of all citizens and will allow for the exchange of accessible format copies within the EU and with third countries that are parties to the Treaty, avoiding duplication of work and waste of resources.

3. A fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators and press

The Copyright Directive aims to reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion. Such platforms will have an obligation to deploy effective means such as technology to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works which right holders have identified and agreed with the platforms either to authorise or remove.

Newspapers, magazines and other press publications have benefited from the shift from print to digital and online services like social media and news aggregators. It has led to broader audiences, but it has also impacted advertising revenue and made the licensing and enforcement of the rights in these publications increasingly difficult.The Commission proposes to introduce a new related right for publishers, similar to the right that already exists under EU law for film producers, record (phonogram) producers and other players in the creative industries like broadcasters.

The new right recognises the important role press publishers play in investing in and creating quality journalistic content, which is essential for citizens’ access to knowledge in our democratic societies. As they will be legally recognised as right holders for the very first time they will be in a better position when they negotiate the use of their content with online services using or enabling access to it, and better able to fight piracy. This approach will give all players a clear legal framework when licensing content for digital uses, and help the development of innovative business models for the benefit of consumers.

The draft Directive also obliges publishers and producers to be transparent and inform authors or performers about profits they made with their works. It also puts in place a mechanism to help authors and performers to obtain a fair share when negotiating remuneration with producers and publishers. This should lead to higher level of trust among all players in the digital value chain.

More information here.

Brief IP news

briefs_1131. Amazon and Walmart are accused of patent infringement. For more information here.

2. Useful tips for protection of your brand. For more information here.

3. Goods and services – declarations under Article 28 (8). For more information here.

Information from Intellectual Property Center at the UNWE. More information can be found here  

European Court’s decision regarding links and copyright conflicts

blog-linkingThe European court ruled in Case C‑160/15 GS Media BV versus Sanoma Media Netherlands BV, Playboy Enterprises International Inc., Britt Geertruida Dekker. The case concerns the following:

At the request of Sanoma, which is the publisher of Playboy magazine, on 13 and 14 October 2011 the photographer, Mr C. Hermès, took the photos at issue, which were to be published in the December 2011 edition of that magazine. In that context, Mr Hermès granted Sanoma authorisation, on an exclusive basis, to publish those photos. He also granted Sanoma authorisation to exercise the rights and powers arising from his copyright.

GS Media operates the website GeenStijl, which includes, according to information provided by that website, ‘news, scandalous revelations and investigative journalism with lighthearted items and wacky nonsense’ and which is viewed daily by more than 230 000 visitors, making it one of the 10 most visited websites in the area of news in the Netherlands.

On 26 October 2011, the editors of the GeenStijl website received a message from a person using a pseudonym, which included a hyperlink to an electronic file hosted on the website Filefactory.com (‘the Filefactory website’), located in Australia and dedicated to data storage. That electronic file contained the photos at issue.

On the same day, Sanoma asked GS Media’s parent company to prevent the photos at issue being published on the GeenStijl website.

On 27 October 2011, an article relating to those photos of Ms Dekker, entitled ‘…! Nude photos of … [Ms] Dekker’, was published on the GeenStijl website, which included part of one of the photos at issue, and which ended with the following words: ‘And now the link with the pics you’ve been waiting for.’ By clicking on a hyperlink accompanying that text, users were directed to the Filefactory website, on which another hyperlink allowed them to download 11 electronic files each containing one of those photos.

On the same day, Sanoma sent GS Media’s parent company an email demanding that it confirm that the hyperlink to the photos at issue had been removed from the GeenStijl website. GS Media failed to respond to that demand.

However, at Sanoma’s request, the photos at issue appearing on the Filefactory website were removed.

By letter of 7 November 2011, counsel for Sanoma and Others demanded that GS Media remove from the GeenStijl website the article of 27 October 2011, including the hyperlink, the photographs it contained and the reactions of users published on the same page of that website.

On the same day, an article about the dispute between GS Media and Sanoma and Others about the photos at issue was published on the GeenStijl website. That article ended with the following sentence: ‘Update: Not yet seen the nude pics of [Ms. Dekker]? They are HERE.’ That announcement was, once again, accompanied by a hyperlink to access the website Imageshack.us where one or more of the relevant photographs could be viewed. The operator of that website, however, also subsequently complied with Sanoma’s request to remove them.

A third article, entitled ‘Bye Bye Wave Wave Playboy’, again contained a hyperlink to the photos at issue, appeared on 17 November 2011 on the GeenStijl website. Forum users of that website then posted new links to other websites where the photos at issue could be viewed.

In December 2011, the photos at issue were published in Playboy magazine.

Sanoma and Others brought an action before the rechtbank Amsterdam (Amsterdam District Court, Netherlands), claiming, in particular, that by posting hyperlinks and a cutout of one of the photos at issue on the GeenStijl website, GS Media had infringed Mr Hermès’ copyright and acted unlawfully towards Sanoma and Others. The rechtbank Amsterdam (Amsterdam District Court) largely upheld that action.

The Gerechtshof Amsterdam (Amsterdam Court of Appeal, the Netherlands) set aside that decision, finding that, by posting the hyperlinks on the GeenStijl website, GS Media had not infringed Mr Hermès’ copyright, since the photos at issue had already been made public before they were posted on the Filefactory website. In contrast, it found that, by posting those links, GS Media acted unlawfully toward Sanoma and Others, as visitors to that website accordingly were encouraged to view the photos at issue which were illegally posted on the Filefactory website. Without those hyperlinks, those photos would not have been easy to find. In addition, the Gerechtshof Amsterdam (Amsterdam Court of Appeal) held that, by posting a cutout of one of the photos at issue on the GeenStijl website, GS Media had infringed Mr Hermès’ copyright.

GS Media brought an appeal against that judgment before the referring court, the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Supreme Court of the Netherlands).

Sanoma and Others brought a cross-appeal, in which they refer in particular to the judgment of 13 February 2014, Svensson and Others, (C‑466/12, EU:C:2014:76), claiming that the fact of making a hyperlink available to internet users to a website on which a work has been posted without the consent of the latter’s copyright holder constitutes a communication to the public. Sanoma and Others submit, moreover, that access to the photos at issue on the Filefactory website was protected by restrictions within the meaning of that judgment which internet users could circumvent through the intervention of GS Media and its GeenStijl website, so that those photos have been made available to a wider public than the public which would normally have accessed those photos on the Filefactory website.

In the context of examining that cross-appeal, the referring court considers that it cannot be inferred with sufficient certainty either from the judgment of 13 February 2014, Svensson and Others, (C‑466/12, EU:C:2014:76) or from the order of 21 October 2014, BestWater, (C‑348/13, not published, EU:C:2014:2315) whether there is a ‘communication to the public’ if the work has in fact previously been published, but without the consent of the copyright holder.

On the one hand, it follows from that case-law of the Court that it must be established whether the intervention at issue enables a public to be reached which cannot be considered to have been included in the public for which the rightholder had previously given his consent, which is consistent with his exclusive right to exploit the work. On the other hand, if a work is already available on the internet for the general public, posting a hyperlink to the website on which the work is already posted will result in virtually no new public being reached. Furthermore, the fact that there are many works on the internet that have been communicated to the public without the rightholder’s consent must also be taken into account. For the operator of a website it will not always be easy to check, if he intends to post a hyperlink to a website on which a work appears, that the rightholder has consented to the earlier posting of that work.

The referring court further observes, moreover, that the cross-appeal also raises the question of the conditions that must be met if they are to constitute ‘restrictions’ within the meaning of the judgment of 13 February 2014, Svensson and Others, (C‑466/12, EU:C:2014:76). That court points out, in that regard, that the photos at issue were not impossible to find on the internet before GS Media posted the hyperlink on the GeenStijl website, without however being easy to find, so the fact of posting that link on its site greatly facilitated access to those photos.

In those circumstances, the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Supreme Court of the Netherlands) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

1. (a)  If anyone other than the copyright holder refers by means of a hyperlink on a website controlled by him to a website which is managed by a third party and is accessible to the general internet public, on which the work has been made available without the consent of the rightholder, does that constitute a “communication to the public” within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29?

(b)  Does it make any difference if the work was also not previously communicated, with the rightholder’s consent, to the public in some other way?

(c)   Is it important whether the ‘hyperlinker’ is or ought to be aware of the lack of consent by the rightholder for the placement of the work on the third party’s website mentioned in 1(a) above and, as the case may be, of the fact that the work has also not previously been communicated, with the rightholder’s consent, to the public in some other way?

2.  (a)   If Question 1 is answered in the negative: If the answer to question 1(a) is in the negative: in that case, is there, or could there be deemed to be, a communication to the public if the website to which the hyperlink refers, and thus the work, is indeed findable for the general internet public, but not easily so, with the result that the publication of the hyperlink greatly facilitates the finding of the work?

(b) In answering question 2(a), is it important whether the “hyperlinker” is or ought to be aware of the fact that the website to which the hyperlink refers is not easily findable by the general internet public?

3. Are there other circumstances which should be taken into account when answering the question whether there is deemed to be a communication to the public if, by means of a hyperlink, access is provided to a work which has not previously been communicated to the public with the consent of the rightholder?’

The Court’s decision:

Article 3(1) 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 must be interpreted as meaning that, in order to establish whether the fact of posting, on a website, hyperlinks to protected works, which are freely available on another website without the consent of the copyright holder, constitutes a ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of that provision, it is to be determined whether those links are provided without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on that other website or whether, on the contrary, those links are provided for such a purpose, a situation in which that knowledge must be presumed.

Lawsuit between John McAfee and Intel

antivirus-for-computersWIPR  reports about a non-infringement trademark lawsuit initiated by John McAfee in New York. John McAfee is founder of the well-known antivirus software McAfee now owned by Intel. Recently John McAfee has become part of a tech company called MGT where he works as CEO. This company has plan to change its name to John McAfee Global Technologies and because of which they received a letter from Intel according to which such use is not appropriate in light of possible associations with the Intel’s registered trade mark McAfee.

John McAfee stated that such use can’t be prohibit because when he sold his business to Intel this didn’t include obligations not to use his own name for business purposes in future.

This is another case representing a conflict between trademark and family name. Recently Karen Millen has lost similar lawsuit in UK for its name.