Tips & tricks for searching in Chinese patent databases

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The European Patent Office published valuable instructions how you can work with Chinese database for patents, without any knowledge of Chinese. The instructions cover:

  • SIPO – Retrieving Chinese documents (PDF, 833 KB)
  • PSS – Retrieving Chinese documents (English interface) (PDF, 1.6 MB)
  • SIPO – Monitoring Chinese publications by IPC classes (PDF, 897 KB)
  • English machine translation
  • PSS – Retrieving a machine translation (English interface) (PDF, 1.5 MB)
  • Legal status information
  • SIPO – Legal status search in Chinese (PDF, 982 KB)
  • SIPO – Retrieving information on fee payment in English (PDF, 1.5 MB)
  • SIPO – Online file inspection in English (PDF, 1.7 MB)
  • SIPO – Searching re-examination and invalidation decisions (PDF, 450 KB)
  • SIPO – Retrieving online gazette issues (PDF, 656 KB)
  • PSS – Retrieving citation information (English interface) (PDF, 1.17 MB)
  • Searching trademarks and designs
  • CTMO – Searching Chinese trademarks (PDF, 751 KB)
  • SIPO – Searching Chinese designs using classification (PDF, 967 KB)

InBev lost a trademark lawsuit against Aldi

The Brussels Court of Appeal has ruled in a case between Aldi and InBev, which concerns an accusation that Aldi infringed InBev’s rights over Jupiler trademark in a way contrary to fair commercial practices.

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The Court, however, has concluded that there is no infringement at the case in hand because of the following:

  1. Both products are sold in different sales channels. In case of Buval, the beer is sold only in Aldi’s stores, whereas, in case of  Jupiler, the product is sold everywhere with exception of Aldi’s stores. The Court did not find any post-sales confusion, which occurs at the point of consumption rather than purchase;
  2. The consumers have become used to the red, black and white colors in relation to various brewers;
  3. The consumers have become used to the use of shields and animals with regard to beer packaging by various brewers.

Source: CMS Belgium, Lexology.

Starbucks won a lawsuit against “Coffee rocks” trademark

Starbucks won a lawsuit T‑398/16 against an application for a European trademark  Coffee rocks applied for Class 43. Starbucks based its opposition on a family of earlier marks Starbucks for the same class.

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Initially, EUIPO dismissed the opposition, considering that there is no sufficient similarity between the respected signs.

The General Court, however, has annulled this decision, stating that EUIPO erred in its conclusion about the similarity of the signs.

According to the court:

“However, even if it could be held, as the Board of Appeal found in the contested decision, that ‘[the] marks completely differ in their distinctive and dominant elements, namely the word “rocks” and the devices of coffee bean-shaped musical notes on the one hand and the word “starbucks” and the figurative element of a mermaid on the other hand’, that would not, however, mean, in the light of the case-law cited in paragraph 46 above, that the assessment as to whether there is any similarity between the marks at issue could be confined to taking into account only those components. In the present case, it cannot be held that all the other components of the earlier marks and the mark applied for, and, in particular, those referred to in paragraphs 51 to 55 above, are negligible in the overall impression which those marks make on the relevant public.

A mere reference to that principle cannot be sufficient to establish that the similarities referred to in paragraphs 51 to 55 above may be regarded as negligible when assessing whether there is any similarity between the marks at issue, since those similarities serve to show in the present case that, visually, the signs at issue have the same general appearance in common and are based on the use of the same structure and word in common ‘coffee’.

Consequently, in the light of the fact that the signs at issue are partially identical as regards one or more of their relevant aspects, the Board of Appeal erred in finding that the marks ‘[were] dissimilar from a visual point of view’, thus ruling out any possibility of similarity, even a low degree of similarity.

As regards the phonetic comparison of the signs, it must also be stated that the Court cannot accept the Board of Appeal’s view that the presence of the word ‘coffee’ in the marks at issue and the similar ending of the words ‘rocks’ and ‘starbucks’ are not capable of making the marks similar.

Even though there are differences in the way in which the words ‘starbucks coffee’ and ‘coffee rocks’ are pronounced, the two abovementioned similarities are, as such, factors which are likely to be taken into consideration in comparing the signs phonetically. In any event, those factors serve to rule out the possibility that, with regard to the phonetic comparison, there is not the slightest similarity between those signs. Furthermore, as the applicant submits and in contrast to EUIPO’s assessment, the ending ‘rocks’ may be regarded as phonetically similar to the ending ‘bucks’ on account of the relevant English-speaking public’s pronunciation of the letters ‘o’ and ‘u’.

Consequently, the Board of Appeal erred in finding that the marks ‘[were] dissimilar from a visual point of view’, thus ruling out any possibility of similarity, even a low degree of similarity.”

Brief IP news

briefs_1131.  Removing illegal content online: Commission calls for more efforts and faster progress from all sides. For more information here.

2. Effective use of Community design protection. For more information here. 

3. 5 reasons why investors love intellectual property. For more information here.

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

Gillette won a patent lawsuit against Wilkinson

mach-3-2202255_960_720WIPR reports about a lawsuit that was won by Gillette against one of its main competitors Wilkinson Sword part of Edgewell Personal Care.

The case concerns an accusation that Wilkinson offers interchangeable razor blades that fit on Gillette’s Mach 3 razor. In that way, the company is infringing Gillette’s patents on razor technology.

The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf ordered Wilkinson Sword to stop distributing these products because they infringe Gillette’s patent rights.

This lawsuit is not the first one between both companies. There were similar cases in the US too.

All of that is a good example of the way in which patents can be used as a tool for safeguarding market positions.

How to search for trade marks?

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European IPR Helpdesk published brief instructions on how to conduct a trademark search for prior rights. The paper gives insights into the way in which we can identify the goods and services for the relevant mark will be valid, and how to use the trademark databases such as TMView, Madrid Monitor and Global Brand Database.

Conduction a trademark search is one of the first and crucial steps in the trademark registration process which prevents any new potential mark owner to be accused of IPRs infringement.

More information here.