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.

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Video explaining how to protect trademarks in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Patent Office started a new initiative for brief video tutorials regarding registration of different intellectual property objects.

The video below gives information on how you can register trademarks in Bulgaria. Although this video is on Bulgarian it has subtitles in English.

A brief guide for brand building and protection

pexels-photo-1449081Trecina Surti (Novagraaf) published a short guide in Lexology regarding some of the most important considerations when it comes to brand building and trademark registration. The conclusions which can be made are:

  • It is highly recommendable descriptive brand names to be avoided. The reasons for these are many. From one hand, some of these names will receive refusal for trademark registration by the Patent Offices. From another point of view, such names can be registered in combination with graphics or other distinctive words, however, this protection will be weaker due to the fact that the descriptive elements can be used by everyone.
  • The brand name descriptiveness has to be evaluated bearing in mind the different languages. For instance, in the case of European trademarks, even if the brand name is distinctive in one of the languages in the EU, in case that it is descriptive in another one, the trademark can receive a refusal.
  • Clearing trademark search for earlier similar or identical marks has to be done before any use of a trademark, because otherwise if you start using it, you can be accused of trademark infringement.

The full article can be found here.

The successful Lego’s IP strategy

lego-1932398_960_720.jpgRosie Burbidge published an interesting article about the Lego’s IP strategy, discussed through the Second Brand Protection Conference in Frankfurt.

The article goes through the different stages of intellectual property protection adopted by Lego and the different approaches used by the company in order to prolong this protection and to strengthened it. For example, the company has not only a trademark portfolio but domain names one too, which serves to enhances the brand protection on the internet.

It is quite fascinating how the Duch company uses social media to interact with its consumers and to explain gently the need for its IP protection or the fact that a special video was created which was given to customs authorities around the world to help them to distinguish original Lego product from fake ones

The full article can be found 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.

New database for protected plant varieties and animal breeds in Bulgaria

vegetables-vegetable-basket-harvest-garden.jpgThe Bulgarian Patent Office has launched its brand new online database for protected plant varieties and animal breeds in Bulgaria. This will allow everyone who has an interest in to do a search online. The database has a version in English too although you have to bear in mind that to search for protected plant varieties and animal breeds you need to do that using their names in Cyrillic.

The database is accessible here.

 

When AI can be protected by patents?

robot-1797548_960_720Darren Hau (Marks & Clerk) published an interesting article for Lexology which discusses the topic for patent protection of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As it is well known, computer programs and mathematical methods are excluded from patent protection because it requires a technical solution of a technical problem.

The main question here is, however, when one software, including AI, meets these requirements, that is to say when it has a concrete technical effect.

The updated EPO “Guidelines for Examination”  gives some tips in that regard.

When it comes to AI inventions, the guidelines provide the following as examples of technical applications:

  • control of a specific technical system/process;
  • encryption/decryption or signing electronic communications;
  • audio/image/video enhancement or analysis;
  • speech recognition, e.g. mapping a speech input to a text output;
  • etc.

The natural conclusion from an in-depth analysis of these examples is that AI is protectable by patents in a case that it claims are restricted to specific technical purposes or such technical implementations.

The full article can be found here.