This month’s IP Top 10 has a host of interesting headlines for your coffee break. Without further ado – here are the ten stories (in no particular order) that raised our eyebrows in May.
Intellectual Property Remains at the Heart of US’s China Complaint
The United States has been staunch in its criticism of China for allegedly stealing intellectual property from US companies, and forcing them to transfer technology to China.
The latest escalation of the same has been seen with the President’s embargo of interaction between American companies and Huawei – who they suspect are too closely linked to the Chinese government.
US companies say that the judicial system of the Asian country is biased and almost always decides in favor of local companies in these types of disputes. Beijing denies it.
“Psalm West” gets in on the Family Business – (Branding)
Only two weeks after he was born, Kim Kardashian registered her newborn son “Psalm West”‘s name as a trademark.
Psalm is not the first West child to be protected by a trade mark – as this has previously been seen with “North” “Chicago” and “Saint”.
Kim Kardashian West has registered the sign in categories relating to: hair accessories, calendars and books, jewellery, home furnishings, baby supplies, dolls, clothes and more, according to documents obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Some draw criticism against the Kardashian Wests in doing the above – as it is seen as a cynical move motivated only by money. From an IP perspective however, it is a shrewd move – as the interest around the celebrity troupe is so high that others not related to the family would clamour to secure such a mark.
About How Whytes Bikes are winner in a copyright infringement with insufficient fact to prove the evidence.
Whytes Bikes are today celebrating a legal victory over the title sponsor of the Haas F1 team, Rich Energy.
The complaint that was made concerned alleged copyright infringement of Whytes stag logo by the prominent brand.
When Whytes Bikes company noticed a striking similarity between the two logos, they launched a copyright claim, which went to trial in the UK High Court in March. The judgement was released today, and it has found in favour of Whytes.
The Judge found that witness, representing defendant Rich Energy, had deliberately misled the court by claiming they were not aware of Whytes logo. She continued by saying they deliberately copied the Hastings-based brand’s stag design.
BBC urged to “Slay in it’s Lane“
Slay in Your Lane was a best-selling book in 2018. Written by the young women, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, its described as the “black girl’s bible”, it is an “inspirational guide to life for a generation of black British women inspired to […] find success in every area of their lives.”
It seems Ms. Adegoke and Uviebinené’s wisdom extends to intellectual property – as they registered “Slay in Your Lane” as a word mark across a host of categories.
Such a move was proven to be very savvy as the BBC used the slogan on a billboard as part of their #ChangeTheGame campaign to support women’s sport’s on their channels.
The authors surmised that the BBC had underestimated them (they had even registered in the category for advertising services!) and would assume they would take the use of their trade mark as a compliment – however, they have rightly enforced the trade mark.
Louis Vuitton‘s Chinese Clash
Whilst headlines are typically reserved for the broader ripostes between American and China – other complainants are railing against alleged infringement eminating from Chinese producers.
Echoing Nike’s issue with OneMix, Louis Vuitton have launched a complaint against Chinese footwear company Belle International Holdings.
The defendant allegedly copied LV Archlight Sneakers under its brand “JIPI JAP” importing the shoes into Hong Kong before they were then being exported to other cities. The Claimant claims to have suffered damages as a result of the infringement.
We will still have to wait until it is almost solved, but here the comparison that LV presented in its claim. Draw your own conclusions.
Rod Stewart sued by photographer for sharing photograph
Another month passes and another celebrity is being sued for sharing an image of themselves which they had not taken!
We’ve seen celebrities getting sued for copyright infringement, last month’s IP Top 10 speaks about GiGi Hadid’s copyright case, which seeks to establish a new precedent in this area.
Sir Rod Stewart is the next person to be drawn under scrutiny. This time, the legendary singer is being sued for using a photo as a gig backdrop.
What scuppered this claim however was that the photographer who filed the lawsuit didn’t take the photo. The claimant was unable to prove that she had bought the rights to the image when acquiring a host of the photographer’s images in the mid 00s.
As such the judge dismissed the claim.
Happy Birthday, GDPR!
May 25th was the 1st birthday of our favourite piece of data protection regulation – that’s right, GDPR!
Much has changed over the course of the year since it’s inception, so McGuireWoods reflected on some of the main developments that have cropped up in the meantime.
It seems that the most impactful thing that has happened has been the high cost companies have had to outlay in order to comply with GDPR. However, they also note that the shift toward consumer empowerment over personal information has also been a significant one. Swings and roundabouts!
Indonesian Courts Kryptonite to DC’s Superman Claim
DC were recently in a trade mark dispute in Indonesia in relation to use of “Superman” on snack foods.
It seems that despite the fact that “Superman” is one of the most well reputed trade marks worldwide – DC’s failure to register the word as a trade mark in Indonesia scuppered their claim.
PT Marxing Fam Makmur, a Surabaya-based food and beverage company, had already acquired Superman trademark.
DC Comics then filed a lawsuit with the Central Jakarta Commercial Court against Marxing, claiming Superman as brand known worldwide, including Indonesia, adding that they believed Marxing had possible malicious intent for registering DC’s trademark without prior permission or approval.
The packaging suggests that PT Marxing were perhaps, somewhat inspired by the hero…
Iron Maiden claims against claim against Ion Maiden the game.
English heavy metal band Iron Maiden are suing 3D Realms with allegations that retro FPS Ion Maiden is causing confusion and muddying their brand. They want $2 million (£1.56m) in damages for the trademark terror.
Ion Maiden is a pun on the words “iron maiden” though whether it’s riffing on the name of the band or the apparently-not-medieval torture device may be up for contention.
The suit claims, Blabbermouth report, that the name Ion Maiden “is nearly identical to the Iron Maiden trademark in appearance, sound and overall commercial impression.”
It claims this is intentional by 3D Realms “in an effort to confuse consumers into believing products and services are somehow affiliated with or approved by Iron Maiden.” This is supported by pointing to online posts about Ion Maiden where comm enters seem to think it’s related to Iron Maiden – and also the band’s prior pedigree in the computer game industry.
Supreme Italia, new legal fake takes a hit in China
Legal fakes are a relatively new problem across the fashion industry.
The term refers to the phenomena when a business registers a brand in a given country before the original brand owner can do so themselves.
From there, they can sell almost identical products using almost an identical marketing strategy as the one used by the original brand.
Unlike counterfeiting, the goal is not to replicate the original product, but rather to impersonate the entire brand itself – more or less without the original brand having any other legal recourse.
The most famous of these “Supreme Italia”, who have been a thorn in the side of the original “Supreme” for some time.
However, at the very end of the month, in a high-profile move, China revoked their trade marks – which will come as a hammer blow to Supreme Italia.
This is most interesting as it is typical that “first past the post” reigns supreme in China (ahem). Perhaps a sign of things to come for the grey area of “legal fakes”.
IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia
And that is if for another month! A special thanks to Oscar Guardo for his assistance on the past three months of this IP Top 10 series. He has uncovered some truly fascinating stories for us.
Until the next month!
IP Top 10: May – “Superman” Shot Down in Indonesia was written by Oscar Guardo and edited by Dr. Martin Douglas Hendry