The Polo/Lauren Company won a case in The EU regarding its famous logo

polo-1039337_960_720.jpgThe Board of Appeal of the EUIPO has ruled in case R 1272/2018-5 STYLE & TASTE, S.L. v The Polo/Lauren Company L.P., which concerns an invalidation procedure against the following European trademark registered in 2005 for classes 9, 20, 24 and 25:

rlp

The ground for this invalidation is the following earlier registered Spanish industrial designs:

spto

The EUIPO dismissed the request because:

  • by not submitting the translation of the registered certificate for the earlier Spanish industrial design, the cancellation applicant did not prove the validity and scope of protection of this earlier right,
  • mere reference to national law would not be considered sufficient, and
  • the cancellation applicant did not submit the necessary national legislation in force and did not put forward a cogent line of argument as to why it would succeed under the specific national law in preventing the use of the contested EUTM.

The decision was appealed.

According to the the Board of Appeal, the applicant failed to prove its rights and to submit the necessary argumentation in order to invalidate the trademark at hand. What’s more, after some inspection, it is turned out that the aforementioned designs are not valid anymore due to a lack of renewal.

This case comes to show how essential is the good preparation and implementation for initiating such procedures before the Patent Offices around the world.

Source: IPKat.

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Storage of goods and copyright infringement – a European Court’s decision

forklift-835340_960_720The European Court has ruled in case C‑572/17 Imran Syed, which concerns the following:

Mr Syed ran a retail shop in Stockholm (Sweden) in which he sold clothes and accessories with rock music motifs. In addition to offering the items for sale in that shop, Mr Syed stored such goods in a storage facility adjacent to the shop and in another storage facility located in Bandhagen (Sweden), in a suburb of Stockholm. It is established that Mr Syed’s shop was regularly restocked with merchandise from those storage facilities.

It has been determined that the sale of several of those items infringed trade marks and copyrights. Criminal proceedings were brought against Mr Syed for trademark infringement and breach of Law (1960:729) before the tingsrätten (District Court, Sweden). According to the åklagaren (Public Prosecutor, Sweden), Mr Syed infringed the claimants’ copyright by unlawfully making available to the public clothes and flags bearing the motifs protected by copyright. The prosecutor therefore took the view that all of the goods bearing such motifs which were in the shop and in the storage facilities were being offered for sale or distributed to the public, and that such acts therefore constituted an infringement of Law (1960:729).

The tingsrätten (District Court) found Mr Syed guilty of trade mark infringement concerning all the goods discovered. That court also found him guilty of infringing Law (1960:729) with regard to the goods bearing a copyrighted motif which were in the shop he was running, as well as with regard to the goods stored in both the storage facilities at issue, in so far as identical goods were offered for sale in the shop. The tingsrätten (District Court) took the view, in holding Mr Syed liable for the goods in the storage facilities as well, that the concept of ‘offering for sale’ goods which infringe the copyright held by the claimants did not apply solely to the goods which, at a given point in time, were located in Mr Syed’s shop, but also applied to the identical goods in the storage facilities. In contrast, that court held that the other goods in the storage facilities could not be regarded as having been offered for sale. For all of those infringements, the tingsrätten (District Court) sentenced Mr Syed to a suspended custodial sentence and to 80 per diem fines.

Hearing the case on appeal, the Svea hovrätt, Patent- och marknadsöverdomstolen (Svea Court of Appeal, Stockholm, Sweden: patent and commercial division) found that Mr Syed had infringed Law (1960:729) only in so far as the goods located in his shop were concerned and not in relation to the goods in the storage facilities. That court took the view that Mr Syed had stored those goods for the purpose of sale. However, it could not be considered that those goods had been offered for sale or distributed to the public. Similarly, the handling of goods in the storage facilities did not, according to the court hearing the appeal, constitute an attempt or preparation to commit an infringement of Law (1960:729). The sentence given to Mr Syed was reduced, in so far as Mr Syed was sentenced to a suspended custodial sentence and 60 per diem fines.

Before the Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court, Sweden), the referring court in this case, the Riksåklagaren (Prosecutor-General) claimed that Mr Syed should be found guilty in respect of the same goods as those which the tingsrätten (District Court) had found to establish an infringement of Law (1960:729). He also submitted that the Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) should refer the matter to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling concerning the interpretation of Article 4(1) of Directive 2001/29.

Before the referring court, Mr Syed argued that it followed from the case-law of the Court of Justice that infringement of a rightholder’s distribution right by an offer for sale requires acts directed towards the public with the aim of transferring each specific item. He contended that the purchase and storage of goods cannot be considered to be such acts. An interpretation to the contrary would extend the scope of criminal liability, in breach of the principle of legality.

The referring court notes that Law (1960:729) and Directive 2001/29 do not expressly prohibit the storage of goods bearing a copyrighted motif for the purpose of sale. It adds that, following the decision of the Court of Justice of 13 May 2015, Dimensione Direct Sales and Labianca (C‑516/13, EU:C:2015:315), there may be an infringement of an author’s exclusive right under Article 4(1) of Directive 2001/29 as a result of measures or steps that take place prior to the performance of a contract of sale. Nonetheless, the question arises whether goods bearing a protected motif which are kept, by a person, in storage facilities can be regarded as being offered for sale when that person offers identical goods for sale in a retail shop run by him.

In those circumstances, the Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

‘1. When goods bearing protected motifs are unlawfully offered for sale in a shop, can there also be an infringement of the author’s exclusive right of distribution under Article 4(1) of Directive 2001/29 as regards goods with identical motifs, which are held in storage by the person offering the goods for sale?

2. Is it relevant whether the goods are held in a storage facility adjacent to the shop or in another location?’

The Court’s decision:

Article 4(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 the storage by a retailer of goods bearing a motif protected by copyright on the territory of the Member State where the goods are stored may constitute an infringement of the exclusive distribution right, as defined by that provision, when that retailer offers for sale, without the authorisation of the copyright holder, goods identical to those which he is storing, provided that the stored goods are actually intended for sale on the territory of the Member State in which that motif is protected. The distance between the place of storage and the place of sale cannot, on its own, be a decisive element in determining whether the stored goods are intended for sale on the territory of that Member State.

The Advocate General of the EU Court gave an opinion on a case regarding Kraftwerk’s music and free(fair) use of works

smartphone-vintage-technology-music.jpgThe Advocate General of the European court issued an opinion on Case C‑476/17 Pelham GmbH, Moses Pelham, Martin Haasm срещу Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider-Esleben. This case concerns the following:

Mr Ralf Hütter and Mr Florian Schneider-Esleben, claimants at first instance and respondents in the appeal on a point of law in the main proceedings (‘the respondents’), are members of the music group Kraftwerk. In 1977, the group published a phonogram which features the song Metall auf Metall. The respondents are the producers of that phonogram, but also the performers of the work in question and Mr Hütter is also the author (composer).

Pelham GmbH, a company governed by German law, defendant at first instance and appellant on a point of law in the main proceedings, is the producer of a phonogram which features the song Nur mir, performed, inter alia, by the singer Sabrina Setlur. Mr Moses Pelham and Mr Martin Haas, also defendants at first instance and appellants on a point of law in the main proceedings, are the authors of that work.

The respondents claim that Pelham, Mr Pelham and Mr Haas (‘the appellants’) copied — electronically sampled — approximately two seconds of a rhythm sequence from the song Metall auf Metall and incorporated it, as a continuous loop, in the song Nur mir. They submit that the appellants thus infringed the related right they hold as producers of the phonogram in question. In the alternative, the respondents invoke the intellectual property rights they hold as performers and allege an infringement of Mr Hütter’s copyright in the musical work. In the further alternative, the respondents allege an infringement of competition law. However, the proceedings before the referring court concern only the rights of the respondents as producers of the phonogram.

The respondents requested the termination of the infringement, the award of damages, the provision of information and the surrender of the phonograms for the purposes of destruction. The court of first instance upheld the action and the appeal brought by the appellants in the main proceedings was unsuccessful. By judgment of 20 November 2008, the referring court, in response to an appeal on a point of law brought by the appellants, upheld the judgment of the appeal court and the case was referred back to the appeal court for further examination. The appeal court again dismissed the appeal brought by the appellants. By judgment of 13 December 2012, the referring court, in response to a second appeal on a point of law brought by the appellants, dismissed that appeal. That judgment was annulled by the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court, Germany), (8) which referred the case back to the referring court.

In those circumstances, the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice, Germany) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

‘(1) Is there an infringement of the phonogram producer’s exclusive right under Article 2(c) of Directive [2001/29] to reproduce its phonogram if very short audio snatches are taken from its phonogram and transferred to another phonogram?

(2) Is a phonogram which contains very short audio snatches transferred from another phonogram a copy of the other phonogram within the meaning of Article 9(1)(b) of Directive [2006/115]?

(3)  Can the Member States enact a provision which — in the manner of Paragraph 24(1) of the [UrhG] — inherently limits the scope of protection of the phonogram producer’s exclusive right to reproduce (Article 2(c) of Directive 2001/29) and to distribute (Article 9(1)(b) of Directive 2006/115) its phonogram in such a way that an independent work created in free use of its phonogram may be exploited without the phonogram producer’s consent?

(4)  Can it be said that a work or other subject matter is being used for quotation purposes within the meaning of Article 5(3)(d) of Directive [2001/29] if it is not evident that another person’s work or another person’s subject matter is being used?

(5) Do the provisions of EU law on the reproduction right and the distribution right of the phonogram producer (Article 2(c) of Directive 2001/29 and Article 9(1)(b) of Directive 2006/115) and the exceptions or limitations to those rights (Article 5(2) and (3) of Directive 2001/29 and Article 10(2), first sentence, of Directive 2006/115) allow any latitude in terms of implementation in national law?

(6) In what way are the fundamental rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) to be taken into account when ascertaining the scope of protection of the exclusive right of the phonogram producer to reproduce (Article 2(c) of Directive 2001/29) and to distribute (Article 9(1)(b) of Directive 2006/115) its phonogram and the scope of the exceptions or limitations to those rights (Article 5(2) and (3) of Directive 2001/29 and Article 10(2), first sentence, of Directive 2006/115)?’

17. The request for a preliminary ruling was received at the Court on 4 August 2017. Written observations were submitted by the parties in the main proceedings, the German, French and United Kingdom Governments and the European Commission. All the parties concerned were represented at the hearing on 3 July 2018.

The Advocate’s decision:

(1) Article 2(c) 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 taking an extract of a phonogram for the purpose of using it in another phonogram (sampling) infringes the exclusive right of the producer of the first phonogram to authorise or prohibit the reproduction of his phonogram within the meaning of that provision where it is taken without the latter’s permission.

(2) Article 9(1)(b) of Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property must be interpreted as meaning that a phonogram which contains extracts transferred from another phonogram (samples) is not a copy of the other phonogram within the meaning of that provision.

(3) Article 2(c) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as precluding the application of a provision of the national law of a Member State, such as Paragraph 24(1) of the Gesetz über Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutzrechte — Urheberrechtsgesetz (German Law on Copyright and Related Rights) of 9 September 1965, according to which an independent work may be created in the free use of another work without the consent of the author of the work used, to phonograms, in so far as it exceeds the scope of the exceptions and limitations to exclusive rights provided for in Article 5(2) and (3) of that directive.

(4) The quotation exception provided for in Article 5(3)(d) of Directive 2001/29 does not apply where an extract of a phonogram has been incorporated into another phonogram without any intention of interacting with the first phonogram and in such a way that it forms an indistinguishable part of the second phonogram.

(5) Member States are required to ensure the protection, in their domestic law, of the exclusive rights set out in Articles 2 to 4 of Directive 2001/29, in so far as those rights can be limited only in the application of the exceptions and limitations listed exhaustively in Article 5 of that directive. Member States are nevertheless free as to the choice of form and methods they consider appropriate to implement in order to comply with that obligation.

(6) The exclusive right of phonogram producers under Article 2(c) of Directive 2001/29 to authorise or prohibit reproduction, in part, of their phonogram in the event of its use for sampling purposes is not contrary to the freedom of the arts as enshrined in Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Brief IP news

briefs_1131.  Mexico to use the list of terms from the harmonised database in TMclass. For more information here.

2. Digital royalties to creators top €1 billion as global collections rise 6.2% to €9.6 billion. For more information here.

3. How to label your European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 event? For more information here.

The EU with a new plan for protecting IPRs

flag-2608475_960_720News from the Council of the EU:

The Council today endorsed a new EU customs action plan to combat infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The new action plan will cover the years 2018 to 2022.

It will ensure effective enforcement of IPR, tackle trade of IPR infringing goods throughout the international supply chain and strengthen cooperation in this area with the European Observatory as well as relevant law enforcement authorities.

The Commission is invited to prepare a roadmap by Spring 2019 on the implementation of the new action plan, as well as to monitor this implementation and to submit annual reports to the Council.

More information can be found here.

Shift the blame for copyright infringement to your parents – an EU Court decision

pirate-2129571_960_720The European Court has ruled in case C‑149/17,Bastei Lübbe GmbH & Co. KG v Michael Strotzer, which concerns the following:

Bastei Lübbe is the holder, as a phonogram producer, of the copyright and related rights in the audio version of a book.

Mr Strotzer is the owner of an internet connection through which, on 8 May 2010, that audio book was shared, for the purpose of downloading, with an unlimited number of users of a peer-to-peer internet exchange. An expert correctly attributed the IP address in question to Mr Strotzer.

By letter of 28 October 2010, Bastei Lübbe warned Mr Strotzer to cease and desist the infringement of copyright which had occurred. That warning notice was unsuccessful and Bastei Lübbe brought an action before the Amtsgericht München (Local Court, Munich, Germany) against Mr Strotzer as the owner of the IP address in question, seeking damages.

However, Mr Strotzer denies having himself infringed copyright and maintains that his connection was sufficiently secure. In addition, he asserts that his parents, who live in the same household, also had access to that connection but that to his knowledge they did not have the work in question on their computer, were not aware of the existence of the work and did not use the online exchange software. In addition, Mr Strotzer’s computer was switched off at the time when the infringement in question was committed.

The Amtsgericht München (Local Court, Munich) dismissed Bastei Lübbe’s action for damages on the ground that Mr Strotzer could not be held liable for the infringement of copyright in question, because he had stated that his parents could also have committed the infringement in question.

Bastei Lübbe appealed against the decision of the Amtsgericht München (Local Court, Munich) before the Landgericht München I (Regional Court, Munich I, Germany).

That court is inclined to hold Mr Strotzer liable in that it does not follow from his explanations that a third party used the internet connection at the time of the infringement. It considers that Mr Strotzer is therefore seriously likely to have committed the copyright infringement.

That court nevertheless considers itself to be compelled to apply Paragraph 97 of the Law on copyright and related rights, as amended by the Law of 1 October 2013, as interpreted by the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice, Germany), which in its view might preclude the defendant from being held liable.

In fact, according to the case-law of the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice), as interpreted by the referring court, it is for the applicant to allege and prove the infringement of copyright. The Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) considers, moreover, that the owner of an internet connection is presumed to have committed such an infringement provided that no other person was able to use the internet connection at the time of the infringement. However, if the internet connection was not sufficiently secure or was knowingly made available to other persons, then the owner of that connection is not presumed to have committed the infringement.

In that case, the case-law of the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) nonetheless places on the owner of the internet connection a secondary burden to present the facts. The owner discharges that secondary burden to the requisite standard by explaining that other persons, whose identity he discloses, where appropriate, had independent access to his internet connection and are therefore capable of having committed the alleged infringement of copyright. Although a family member of the owner of the internet connection had access to that connection, the owner of that connection is not, however, required to provide further details relating to the time and the nature of the use of that connection, having regard to the protection of marriage and family guaranteed by Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) and the corresponding provisions of the German Basic Law.

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

‘1. Should Article 8(1) and (2), in conjunction with Article 3(1), of Directive 2001/29/EC be interpreted as meaning that “effective and dissuasive sanctions” for infringements of the right to make works available to the public are still provided for even when the owner of an internet connection used for copyright infringements through file-sharing is excluded from liability to pay damages if the owner of that internet connection can name at least one family member who, besides him or her, might have had access to that internet connection, without providing further details, established through appropriate investigations, as to when and how the internet was used by that family member?

2. Should Article 3(2) of Directive 2004/48/EC be interpreted as meaning that “effective” measures for the enforcement of intellectual property rights are still provided for even when the owner of an internet connection used for copyright infringements through file-sharing is excluded from liability to pay damages if the owner of that internet connection can name at least one family member who, besides him or her, might have had access to that internet connection, without providing further details, established through appropriate investigations, as to when and how the internet was used by that family member?’

The Court ‘s decision:

Article 8(1) and (2) 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, read in conjunction with Article 3(1) thereof, and Article 3(2) of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, under which, as interpreted by the relevant national courts, the owner of an internet connection used for copyright infringements through file-sharing cannot be held liable to pay damages if he can name at least one family member who might have had access to that connection, without providing further details as to when and how the internet was used by that family member.

A revised Guidelines for registration of European designs.

europe-1395916_960_720EUIPO reports about the revised Guidelines for Examination of Registered Community Designs.

The revision focused on a number of important issues, such as the role of product indications and functionality in designs, and incorporating recent Court rulings into the Guidelines.

For more information here.