Sonos won a lawsuit against Google for key patented technologies

The US audio devices producer Sonos won a patent dispute against Google in the US.

The case concerns an accusation by Sonos that Google has used without authorization patented technologies for W-Lan connectivity and synchronization of audio playback. The concerned patents are:

  • 9,195,258 (“System and method for synchronizing operations among a plurality of independently clocked digital data processing devices”)
  • 10,209, 953 (“Playback device with synchronisation of a plurality of devices”)
  • 9,219,959 (“Multi-channel pairing in a media system”)
  • 8,588,949 (“Method and apparatus for adjusting volume levels in a multi-zone system”)
  • 10,439,896 (“Connection to a playback device”).

The technologies described in these patents have been used for different Google’s devices such as Pixel smartphones, voice assistant devices etc.

As it is well-known both companies worked together in 2013 when Sonos integrated some of the Google services in its devices. According to the accusation after that, however, Google used some of the information to develop its own products.

Based on this decision the US International Trade Commission can prohibit the import of any goods into the US that violate the Sonos’ patents. This could be a problem for Google because most of its deceives are produced in Asia.

The Court’s decision is not final and can be appealed.

Source: Meyer-Dulheuer MD Legal Patentanwälte PartG mbB

Huawei lost a trademark dispute in the UK

Huawei filed a trademark application in the UK for ‘Mind Studio’ in classes 9 and 42 – software development tools, computer software platforms for mobile devices, computer software management services, and the development of software applications.

Against this application an opposition was filed by the education company Minds Studio based on an early registered European trademark for Minds Studio in clauses 41 and 42 – design services; IT services; science and technology services; and testing, authentication, and quality control.

According to the Chinese company there was no similarity between the goods and services of both signs because they target different consumer groups.

The Patent Office disagreed. First of all, the Office considered both marks as highly similar almost identical. The difference of only one letter “s” at the end of the first word is not enough to overcome this conclusion.

As to the goods and services, the Office consider them similar and identical. They target the same consumers, distribution and trade channels.

In light of this it is possible a confusion to arise in the consumer mind regarding both signs. The opposition was upheld in its entirety.

Source: WIPR.

Global Innovation Index 2019

gii_2019_1200.jpgWIPO published its Global Innovation Index for 2019. Switzerland was ranked as the most innovative nation in the world followed by Sweden and the US. The rest of the countries in the top 10 are Nederland, Finland, the UK, Singapour, Germany, Denmark, and Israel.

Bulgaria is ranked 40 which is three places behind the last year’s position. More data for the country can be found here.

More information regarding this index you can found here.

Huawei escaped a ban for selling its phones in Germany

technology-3033809_960_720The Chinese tech company Huawei will continue to sell its smartphones in Germany after reaching an agreement with the patent poll MPEG LA.

The dispute at hand concerns video coding technology used in computers and phones, for which there are patents included in the MPEG LA portfolio.

In 2018, the Court in Düsseldorf ruled in favor of MPEG LA ordering all  Huawei’s smartphones which are sold in Germany to be recalled and destroyed.

To prevent such results, Huawei signed a license agreement with MPEG LA that will allow the company to use the above-mentioned patents as well as to continue their selling in Germany.

Source: WIPR.

Smart Things cannot be a trademark in The EU

turn-on-2944067_960_720Samsung Electronics won an invalidation proceeding against the following European trademark registered for classes 9, 20 and 35:


The invalidation was based on absolute grounds – descriptiveness in relation to the trademark’s goods and services. The applicant argued that its mark was distinctive because when it was applied for in 2012 it wasn’t included in dictionaries and on top of that the concept for the internet of things wasn’t popular among consumers.

Initially, the EUIPO dismissed Samsung’s request stating that although Smart Things are descriptive words the presence of an emoticon in the sign is enough to create a necessary level of distinctiveness.

The decision was appealed.

According to the Board of Appeal, the trademark at hand is fully descriptive for the relevant goods and services and this cannot be overcome by the emoticon. What’s more, this phrase has to be left free for use for all market participant taking into account that it is highly used for different technologies. The fact that it wasn’t included in a dictionary in 2012 is irrelevant for the case.

Source: WIPR.

Can the energy label of vacuum cleaners be misleading?

vacuum-cleaner-268179_960_720The European Court ruled in the case C‑632/16 Dyson Ltd, Dyson BV v BSH Home Appliances NV. The case concerns the following:

Both Dyson and BSH place on the market vacuum cleaners which, in accordance with Delegated Regulation No 665/2013, must be labelled with an energy label when sold. That label reflects the results of tests which are carried out with an empty dust bag. Dyson criticises, inter alia, BSH for misleading consumers and claims that it is guilty of unfair commercial practices. It is in that context that Dyson brought an action before the referring court, the Voorzitter van de rechtbank van koophandel te Antwerpen (President of the Commercial Court, Antwerp, Belgium).

As a first step, the referring court rejects Dyson’s claim that BSH carried out an unfair commercial practice by listing energy class A on the energy labels of the vacuum cleaners its markets. Such a classification is indeed the result of tests carried out with an empty dust bag, the referring court considering that test to be the only one enabling the annual energy consumption of vacuum cleaners to be assessed.

As a second step, however, the referring court notes that Dyson is correct to note that the tests carried out with an empty dust bag are not in accordance with normal use of a vacuum cleaner and that they do not allow devices to be compared where they operate on different principles, namely (i) vacuum cleaners which, like those marketed by BSH, are equipped with a dust bag whose pores gradually obstruct its use, thereby requiring the motor to generate more power and, (ii) vacuum cleaners of the Dyson brand, which are not equipped with such a bag and whose use has no impact on the power the motor must generate. Therefore, it considers the question to be whether, by neglecting to specify the test method used, BSH has misled consumers.

The referring court notes, in that regard, that BSH is merely complying with Delegated Regulation No 665/2013. That regulation governs in a very precise manner the appearance of the energy label and the references that must appear there, such that, in determining what information to disclose to the consumer, BSH is bound by the limitations of that medium. In the light of Article 7(1) and (3) of Directive 2005/29, that court is of the view that it should examine whether BSH had some freedom in relation to the information it decides to feature on the devices it markets in terms of their energy consumption.

The referring court further notes that, in addition to the energy label, required by Delegated Regulation No 665/2013, BSH adds other symbols to its vacuum cleaners, including a green label stating ‘Energy A’, indicating that the vacuum cleaner has attained class A in energy efficiency overall, an orange label stating ‘AAAA Best rated: A in all classes’, indicating that the vacuum cleaner has attained class A in cleaning performance in respect of both carpets and hard floors, in energy efficiency and in dust re-emissions, as well as a black label with the image of a carpet and stating ‘class A Performance’, indicating that the vacuum cleaner has attained class A with regard to dust pick-up on carpet.

That court notes that BSH is hereby producing information that has already been fully communicated by the energy label and questions whether Delegated Regulation No 665/2013 authorises such a practice.

In those circumstances, the Voorzitter van de rechtbank van koophandel te Antwerpen (President of the Commercial Court, Antwerp) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court for a preliminary ruling:

‘(1) Can strict compliance with [Delegated Regulation No 665/2013] (without supplementing the label as defined in Annex II thereto with information about the test conditions which lead to the classification in an energy efficiency class in accordance with Annex I) be regarded as a misleading omission within the meaning of Article 7 of [Directive 2005/29]?

(2)  Does [Delegated Regulation No 665/2013] preclude supplementing the label with other symbols which communicate the same information?’

The Court’s decision:

1. Article 7 of Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council must be interpreted as meaning that the act of not providing consumers with information on the testing conditions that resulted in the energy classification indicated on the label relating to the energy class of vacuum cleaners, the model of which is shown in Annex II to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 665/2013 of 3 May 2013 supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to energy labelling of vacuum cleaners does not constitute a ‘misleading omission’ within the meaning of that provision.

2. Delegated Regulation No 665/2013, read in the light of Article 3(1)(b) of Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products, must be interpreted as meaning that it prohibits the display, in a place other than the label relating to the energy class of vacuum cleaners, the model of which is shown in Annex II to Delegated Regulation No 665/2013, of labels or symbols recalling the information contained on that energy label, if such display is likely to mislead or confuse end-users with respect to the consumption of energy of the vacuum cleaner marketed at retail at issue during its use, which is for the referring court to verify, in view of all the relevant factors and having regard to the perception of the average end-user, who is reasonably well-informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, taking into account social, cultural and linguistic factors.

EPO launched a new beta version of ESPACENET


The European Patent Office launched the beta version of its refreshing database for patent searching ESPACENET. The new version is more modern, dynamic, intuitive and it is optimised to work on different devices including desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones.

The beta version is accessible here. For more information about it, you can watch the hereunder video presentation. EPO encourages sending feedback, which can be done from here.