Black Friday cannot be a trademark in Austria

pexels-photo.jpgBlack Friday is one of the most anticipated days of the year for consumers when it comes to promotions and trade deals. Many people are attracted by the idea to buy something at a serious discount.

This is one of the reasons though why there are so many attempts for it monopolizing as a trademark sign.

In Europe, for example, there are several such cases. One of them, in Austria, has come to an end recently when the Austrian Court ordered that Black Friday cannot function as a trademark because it is not distinctive enough for the classes of goods and services for which the trademark was applied for.

In many countries around the world, even not English speaking, the phrase is well-known as a meaning for most of the people and as such, it cannot serve as a source of origin.

The case concerns an attempt by a Chinese company, which as an owner of registered Black Friday mark, tries to give licenses to Austrian companies that want to use it in their promotions.

This is not the onliest case, however. There is a similar lawsuit in Germany, which now is pending before the Federal Patent Court.

In Bulgaria, there were several Black Friday trademarks which now are canceled.

A brief search in the TMView database shows that there are even more such trademarks around the world. Most of them, which are only words marks or in combination with undistinctive visual representations, are ended.

Nevertheless, there are other similar marks that include additional words or graphics that are registered. The question here is to what extent they are useful considering their low distinctive character.

Source: Axel Anderl and Alexandra Ciarnau for Lexilogy.

A dispute over geographical indications can threaten the trade deal between the EU and Australia

bigstock-Australia-flag-with-european-u-133799099.jpgAs it is well-known the EU is negotiating with Australia for a $100 billion trade deal similar to those signed with Canada and Japan.

In that regard, the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan expressed his concerns about the deal after the last meeting between the parties in Canberra.

As in all other deals, the EU expects all of its geographical indications to cover the other party’s territory after the deal, which aim to protect the European producers of traditional products.

The problem in the case of Australia, however, is that many local manufacturers have been using European geographical indications, such as Prosecco and Feta for free for decades. The EU insists that to be discontinued. On the other side, the Australian government tries to support its producers in an attempt to avoid eventual economic disturbance for them.

In most of the cases, such disputes end with a grace period after which the relevant producers have to seize the use of the protected geographical indications or in some cases at least to add the name of the country in front for a distinction.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Breaking news – EU attacks China before the WTO for unfair technology transfers

314410706_smallThe European Commission initiated a legal proceeding against China before the World Trade Organisation. The reason for that move was alleged unfair practices regarding technology transfer and intellectual property set by the Chinese legislation.

The main problem here is the requirement that every European company that wants to enter the Chinese market has to share technologies and intellectual property with a domestic partner.

According to the European Commision, this practice is against the WTO’s rules and can be identified as unfair and not market-based.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Technological innovation and know-how is the bedrock of our knowledge-based economy. It’s what keeps our companies competitive in the global market and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across Europe. We cannot let any country force our companies to surrender this hard-earned knowledge at its border. This is against international rules that we have all agreed upon in the WTO. If the main players don’t stick to the rulebook, the whole system might collapse.”

Source: European Commission.

Geoblocking in EU – new rules coming soon

brexit-1497067_960_720The European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission have come to an understanding on the legislation regarding the so-called geoblocking identified by many people as unfair.  According to the statement, the new rules will prohibit geoblocking in three main cases:

· The sale of goods without physical delivery. Example: A Belgian customer wishes to buy a refrigerator and finds the best deal on a German website. The customer will be entitled to order the product and collect it at the trader’s premises or organise delivery himself to his home.

· The sale of electronically supplied services. Example: A Bulgarian consumer wishes to buy hosting services for her website from a Spanish company. She will now have access to the service, can register and buy this service without having to pay additional fees compared to a Spanish consumer.

· The sale of services provided in a specific physical location. Example: An Italian family can buy a trip directly to an amusement park in France without being redirected to an Italian website.

The Regulation does not impose an obligation to sell and does not harmonise prices. It does, however, address discrimination in access to goods and services in cases where it cannot be objectively justified (e.g. by VAT obligations or different legal requirements).

The new rules will come directly into force after nine months from the publication in the EU Official Journal, to allow in particular small traders to adapt.

For more information here.