One interesting dispute between pizza restaurants from the US and the UK brings to us the importance of intellectual property strategy for business development on international level.
Imapizza LLC is a US based company owner of &pizza restaurants which main differentiating character is the oval form of their pizzas. The company has plans to start business in the UK but without taking further steps.
Meanwhile, the UK based company @pizza opened restaurants in Glasgow and Birmingham offering oval pizzas too.
Imapizza LLC initiated a lawsuit in the US alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement and trespass.
According to the company, employees of @pizza visited their restaurants taking photographs in order to copy their business model and intellectual property. What’s more @pizza downloaded and used photos from the Imapizza’s website.
The court dismissed all claims as groundless. In the appeal the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld this decision.
According to the court there was no copyright infringement. Uploading and downloading of content by itself cannot constitute copyright breach under the US law. Probably the use of these photos could be an infringement but this happened in the UK and local court can decided on this issue.
Regarding the photos that were been taken in the Imapizza’s restaurants, they cannot infringe copyrights of the company because its restaurants are public places and copyright protection doesn’t cover such cases.
When it comes to both trademarks, although they are similar their was no infringement too. The US trademark law can be invoked in case of unauthorized trademark use in another country only if this can effect upon US commerce.
The Court dismissed the Imapizza’s arguments that this effect is connected with the US students and tourists in the UK which can be mislead by the UK trademark.
With regard to the trespass allegation, the Court found it groundless too because all photos took by the employees of the UK company happened on public places. Every costumer is allowed to take photos when going to a restaurant. If this activities happened in restricted premises probably the conclusion would be different but in the case at hand there was no illegal acts.
This dispute shows clearly how important an intellectual property strategy could be for every company. Some steps have to be implemented in that regard in order the business development of every company to be safeguard in the future on all markets of interest.