MLS and David Beckham attacked Inter Milan in The US

football-1406106_960_720.jpgThe US Major League Soccer (MLS) filed an opposition against a US trademark application for INTER owned by the Italian football club Inter Milan for classes 9, 18, 21, 24, 25, 28, 41.

The main ground for this opposition was lack of distinctiveness and descriptiveness of the word INTER in relation to the football goods and services.

MLS started this proceeding because of its plans for the new Inter Miami football club, which will start playing in the league in 2020. The president and one of the shareholders in this club is David Beckham.

According to the trademark law in The US and around the world, the trademark owner has the right to use the mark, dispose of it and to prohibit third parties of using it.

In light of this, MLS considers the word INTER as not distinctive for the reason of which it has not to be monopolized by any sport club bearing in mind how many clubs use it such as Inter Turku, Inter Leipzig, Inter Baku, Inter de Grand-Goave, NK Inter Zapresic, Inter Moengotapoe, Inter de Luanda. Inter Club d’Escaldes, Inter Atlanta FC.

It is highly likely that this opposition will be successful but for goods and services which regard football as a sport. For those of the goods and services, however, where INTER has inherited distinctiveness, the trademark can be registered which at least will give some merchandising advantages to Inter Milan.

Most likely there will be negotiations between the clubs.

Source: SI.com.

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GRAND CANYON was refused as a trademark in Japan

horseshoe-bend-page-arizona-colorado-river-86703.jpegThe Japanese Patent Office refused to register as a trademark the phrase  GRAND CANYON  for class 25 – clothes, shoes etc.

The reason behind this decision was the fact that according to the law in Japan and many other countries, signs that indicate a geographical origin in regard with the relevant goods and services are not allowed for registration as trademarks.

In the case at hand, GRAND CANYON  is a well-known US national park, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

What’s more, GRAND CANYON is famous with all sorts of merchandising products known and purchased by consumers around the world, including those in Japan.

From that perspective, it is highly likely consumers to perceive it in connection with the US national park than as a trademark sign.

Source: Masaki MIKAMI, Marks IP Law Firm.

USPTO’s position on Alice/Mayo implementation

flag-1291945_960_720The USPTO published its new guidelines on the eligibility of subject matter in patent applications.

With these guidelines, the USPTO gives some important clarifications on the implementation of the first step of the US Supreme Court’s Alice/Mayo test. There are two main changed in that regard:

  • First, in accordance with judicial precedent and in an effort to improve certainty and reliability, the revised guidance extracts and synthesizes key concepts identified by the courts as abstract ideas to explain that the abstract idea exception includes certain groupings of subject matter: mathematical concepts, certain methods of organizing human activity, and mental processes.
     
  • Second, the revised guidance includes a two-prong inquiry for whether a claim is “directed to” a judicial exception. In the first prong, examiners will evaluate whether the claim recites a judicial exception and if so, proceed to the second prong. In the second prong, examiners evaluate whether the claim recites additional elements that integrate the identified judicial exception into a practical application. If a claim both recites a judicial exception and fails to integrate that exception into a practical application, then the claim is “directed to” a judicial exception. In such a case, further analysis pursuant to the second step of the Alice/Mayo test is required.

For more information here.

IBM and Groupon reached a multi-million dollar deal

hammer-802298_960_720The online platform Groupon and IBM have reached a patent deal. The case concerns a lawsuit initiated by IBM against Groupon for infringing the US patents 5,796,967; 5,961,601; 7,072,849; и7,631,346 related to online advertising and ways of allowing web users to connect to an internet provider.

After long negotiations and an ask by IBM for doubling the damages to 165 million dollars, both companies have reached an agreement to cease the lawsuit for which Groupon will pay 57 million dollars.

This case is just another good example of the role and potential that intellectual property has for generating additional revenue for its owners.

In the case at hand IBM will monetarize its patents giving longstanding licenses to Groupon against which the company will allow its employees to use some of the services offered by Groupon with cross-licenses.

Although intellectual property disputes can be quite tough sometimes, if they are used and managed skillfully they can lead to a win-win situation for both parties at the end of the day.

Source: WIPR.

Instagram in a strategic trademark attack

instagram-3198093_960_720The US Kirusa initiated a lawsuit in the US against Instagram which aim is to find non-infringement and non-dilution of the Instagram trademark.

The case at hand concerns a registered trademark for Instavoice by Kirusa which was attacked with cancellation by Instagram based on its earlier well-known trademarks.

According to Kirusa, there are no similarities between the signs because the prefix Insta has weak distinctive character, it means something instant, fast.

The company claimed that its registration for Instavoice mark has been done in good faith at least because the company is not a direct competitor to Instagram and do not threaten its business model.

What’s more, Kirusa asked the Court to order Facebook, as an Instagram’s mother company, to stop blocking Kirusa’s profiles and applications in the social network.

This case is part of a more broader approach by Instagram to prevent using the Insta and Gram prefixes and suffixes as trademarks. In light of that, the company has been attacked more than 200 such trademarks trying to accomplish this strategy.

Source: WIPR.

 

Copyright problems for Vodafone in the US

protected-267353_960_720.jpgVodafone failed to register its well-known trademark logo as a copyrighted work in the US Copyright Office.

The company was ascertaining that its logo is subject to copyright protection because it represents either a quotation mark or a balloon droplet in combination with geometrical shapes and colours.

The Office, however, disagreed, stating that widespread symbols and geometrical shapes cannot be registered as a copyrighted work due to a lack of originality.

According to the  Section 313.4(J) of the Compendium:

Familiar symbols and designs are not copyrightable and cannot be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, either in two-dimensional or three-dimensional form. 37 C.F.R. § 202.1(a). Likewise, the Office cannot register a work consisting of a simple combination of a few familiar symbols or designs with minor linear or spatial variations, either in two-dimensional or three-dimensional form. Examples of familiar symbols and designs include, without limitation:
• Punctuation.
• Symbols typically found on a keyboard, such as asterisks, ampersands, and
the like.

While familiar symbols and designs cannot be registered by themselves, a work of authorship that incorporates one or more of these elements into a larger design may be registered if the work as a whole contains a sufficient amount of creative expression.

However, the mere fact that the symbol is combined with colours is not enough to create the necessary distinctiveness.

Source: Nedim Malovic, IPKat.

UEFA failed to register its well-known logo as a copyrighted work in the US

pexels-photo-1093645The European Football Association UEFA failed in its attempt to register the following well-known logo as a copyrighted work in US Copyright Office:

Starball

Although this registration is not mandatory it is helpful in particular of copyright infringements and lawsuits.

The reason for this refusal was a lack of originality which is one of the main requirements for such registration. Despite the low level of originality which is necessary to protect a copyright work in the case at hand the Office considered that this is not accomplished because the mere combination of stars in a circle is insufficient in that regard.

UEFA tried its best to claim that this logo was original at least because it creates a three-dimensional illusion in the consumer mind, but all to no avail. The Office dismissed this leaning on Section 310 (3) of US Copyright Office Practice, according to which the Office would only need to consider the objective appearance of the work and not the “symbolic meaning or impression” that a work may evoke.

Source: IP KAT.