Offwhite Sues Virgil Abloh Alleging Trademark Infringement

registered trademark

OffWhite Productions LLC sued Virgil Abloh’s OffWhiteTM for infringing its trademark rights. The New York-based marketing and creative agency claimed that the defendant had hijacked its brand name.

The complaint filed on Sunday in Federal Court includes claims:

  • OffWhite Productions has been operating with its registered trademark since the late ’90s, whereas Abloh launched its Milan-based mark in 2012.
  • OffWhite had maintained a website named as “offwhitedesign.com” since July 2001 and operated a Twitter account with @offwhitedesign.

OffWhite Productions also accused the defendant of continuously applying for new trademarks, encompassing a logo that is “unmistakably similar” to one of its marks.

Besides the above claims, OffWhite Productions alleged the fashion agency saying that the defendant is “steamrolling its path for years by misusing its (OffWhite Productions’) present and past senior and superior rights, and putting a legal, branding, and commercial barricade in the expansion of OffWhite Productions’ business.”

OffWhite Productions claimed that the actions of using the same brand name by Virgil Abloh are creating confusion and hampering its competitive advantage. The plaintiff continued that the advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices by OffWhiteTM to promote the infringing use of its trademark, along with its celebrity-outreach campaigns and public relations efforts; have displaced offwhitedesign.com (website) from top search results of Google.

Considering all these facts, OffWhite Productions formulated a set of claims including federal trademark infringement, common trademark dilution, and unfair competition. It is also looking forward to seeking monetary damages and stop OffWhiteTM from using any such logo or mark to prevent confusion in the consumer market. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com/

Louis Vuitton Sues two Chinese Shoe Companies for Copyright Infringement

Louis Vuitton Sues two Chinese Shoe Companies for Copyright InfringementFrench fashion house and luxury retail company, Louis Vuitton is suing two subsidiaries of China’s footwear giant, Belle International for allegedly copying the design of a pair of HK$8,950, famous Archlight sneakers.

As per the intellectual property high court of Hong Kong, the fashion brand Louis Vuitton has accused Belle International (China) and Best Able Footwear – both subsidiaries of Chinese shoe giant Belle International of manufacturing and selling a product that looks substantially similar to a product from its spring and summer, 2018 – the LV Archlight trainers. As a result of copying and selling these products, the two Hong Kong registered companies have damaged LV’s brand name and business reputation.

Undoubtedly, LV has acquired a distinctive reputation and goodwill for their trainers not only in Hong Kong, but across the globe as well; therefore the customers would always associate the product purely with the French brand.

According to the documents, the defendants first began selling its alleged replica in July last year. Belle International runs an array of retail chains in Macau, Hong Kong, and mainland China, including Jipi Japa, Staccato, Joyce & Peace to name a few, mainly focusing on women’s collection.

The fashion label Louis Vuitton has now asked the court to make sure that all the similar products are removed from the markets and the companies’ platforms. It has demanded the firms to cease all copyright infringements, and hand over or destroy the existing alleged copies. LV is also seeking for monetary damages of a sum to be determined at trial.

The officials have stated that the copyright law of Hong Kong will respect the freedom of expression and take a decision accordingly. The trial date has yet to be scheduled. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

Victoria’s Secret threw shade at Budding Rival ThirdLove

Victoria’s Secret threw shade at Budding Rival ThirdLoveVictoria’s Secret, an American designer, manufacturer and marketer of women’s lingerie, women wear, and beauty products, has energized a prolonged and bitter quarrel with ThirdLove, an American company producing and selling bras, underwear and lounge wear, by the means of sedate US trademark applications. While ThirdLove might interrupt or distort the lingerie business, the global lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret strongly believes it still is customers’ “first love”.

The US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has officially agreed to the company’s trademark application, thereby attaching the phrase “first love” to a line of its personal care products. Although Victoria’s Secret has succeeded in acquiring its beauty products’ rights, it couldn’t trademark the phrase in association with its apparel and lingerie as the USPTO stated that “Victoria’s Secret First Love” is confusingly similar to “First Love,” an existing trademark registered for the same type of product, namely, women’s clothing.

Despite Victoria’s Secret recent ups and downs on the fashion runway, the lingerie giant remains the queen of lingerie. However, it is a matter of fact that yes; Victoria’s Secret has lost around 3.8 million customers over the past two years and has delivered a formal public statement on its plans to close 53 stores this year as opposed to its annual average of 15.

Coming to ThirdLove, the company had secured a $55 million fundraising round from a group of investors consisting of Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, genetic testing company. Also, ThirdLove is now generating $100 million annual revenue and has become famous among women as its online “Fit Finder Tool” is being used by many customers to find their bra size.

Ed Razek, the senior creative at Victoria’s Secret said in an interview with Vogue that “We’re nobody’s third love, we’re their first love. Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning”.

When ThirdLove was questioned on whether they had opposed Victoria’s Secret application to trademark “first love”, the online lingerie retailer, Zac, refused to give a statement by focusing attention to their open letter which was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times in 2018 which read in one part, “Your show may be a “fantasy” but we live in reality”.

Nevertheless, it is not an end for Victoria’s Secret as still has time till June this year to make the required justifications in support of the trademark application’s registration. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

 

Apple’s ‘Think different’ trademark dispute

Apple’s ‘Think different’ trademark dispute

Apple, an American multinational technology company lost a legal trademark dispute against Swatch, a Swiss watchmaker, twice in recent weeks. The Cupertino-based company claimed in a lawsuit that Swatch’s “Tick different” logo strongly resembles its well-known “Think different” slogan.

In 2015, Swatch had registered “Tick different” as a trademark (word/figurative mark) along with the famous half-sentence “One more thing” (word mark), with which, Apple’s founder Steve Jobs usually introduced an innovative product at the end of his presentations. Apple found it to be a copy of its slogan, to which, Swatch defended itself by giving an even older reference of the slogan “One more thing” – the well-known television detective, Columbo, who on numerous occasions said “Only one  more thing”- that perfectly fits in the way how Swatch promoted and advertised its NFC – capable watch.

In early April, the Swiss court ruled in Swatch’s favor over the use of its “Tick different” logo. Apparently, the court stated that the company didn’t have any legal documents which could prove Apple’s allegations against Swatch. During the end of the month, Apple lost another battle against Swatch in Australia where the Australian Trademark Office firmly believed that Apple never used the wording in connection with certain goods or services but only in presentations.

Apple is now taking strict actions against this trademark registration in several countries although it has already lost two battles against the Swatch watchmaker in the last few weeks. Of course, Swatch would not stand a chance in the US where the “Think different” advertising slogan is quite famous in the company’s campaigning records. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

UKIPO rejects Kellogg’s ‘Fruit Loop’ opposition

UKIPO rejects Kellogg’s ‘Fruit Loop’ opposition

Britain’s fuller’s brewery achieved victory when the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) discarded a trademark opposition put forward by the American multi-national food manufacturing company, Kellogg. On May 2, 2019, Thursday, the UKIPO gave a verdict  in favor of the brewery, stating that Kellogg’s couldn’t demonstrate the image and  reputation of its ‘Froot Loops’ brand in the UK.

In June, 2018, Kellogg’s filed an opposition against Fuller’s ‘fruit loop’ mark for a seasonal summer beer, which according to the food manufacturer infringed its EU trademark (EU number 145325) for the breakfast cereal brand. The company even asserted that Fuller’s mark would gain an undue advantage from its cereal product’s reputation and would defame the brand by its use with respect to an alcoholic beverage. On the other hand, Fuller’s argued by claiming that the beer and cereal products had almost nothing in common with respect to the taste and flavor to be placed next to each other in markets.

The UKIPO, after hearing all the justifications and claims, declared that the marks were similar to a very low degree, keeping in mind the other attributes in Fuller’s mark and the alcohol content label. It also stated that Kellogg’s didn’t have much distinctiveness in the UK due to which it couldn’t provide any sales figures except for the marketing figures in relation to a special edition of Unicorn Froot Loops.

Fuller’s has been awarded costs of US $ 3,413 by the UKIPO. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

Chinese Trademark Law’s fourth amendment

Chinese Trademark Law’s fourth amendmentOn April 23, 2019, a fourth amendment of the Chinese Trademark Law was passed at the 10th Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress. The new law will be in effect from November 1, 2019, which has been earlier amended thrice, in 1993, 2001 and 2003 respectively

This fourth amendment consists of six articles, concentrating on two important aspects, which are as follows:

  1. Increasing the content against bad-faith registration for the purpose of regulating the acts of bad-faith applications and hoarding registrations.
  2. Reinforcing the penalties for infringement on the exclusive right to use a trademark.

 

ASPECT – 1

AGAINST BAD-FAITH REGISTRATION

(Changes are highlighted in red)

Article 4 (Paragraph 1) is amended to:

Any natural person, legal person or other organization that needs to obtain the exclusive right to use a trademark for its goods or services during production and business operations shall apply for trademark registration with the Trademark Office.

The application of trademark for registration, which is made in bad faith and not for the use purpose, shall be rejected.

Article 19 (Paragraph 3) is amended to:

A trademark agency shall not accept the entrustment of a principal if it knows or should have known that the trademark application entrusted by the principal for registration falls under any of the circumstances prescribed by Article 4, Article 15 and Article 32 of this Law.

Article 33 is amended to:

If a holder of prior right or an interested party holds that the trademark preliminarily approved is in violation of the second or third paragraph of Article 13, Article 15, the first paragraph of Article 16, Article 30, Article 31, or Article 32 of this Law, he may, within three months from the date of publication, file an opposition to the Trademark Office. Any party that is of the opinion that the aforesaid trademark is in violation of Article 4, Article 10, Article 11, Article 12 or the fourth paragraph of Article 19 of this Law may file an opposition to the Trademark Office within the same three-month period. If no opposition is filed within the specified period, the Trademark Office shall approve the application for registration, issue the certificate of trademark registration, and make an announcement thereon.

Article 44 (Paragraph 1) is amended to:

A registered trademark shall be declared invalid by the Trademark Office if it is in violation of Article 4, Article 10, Article 11, Article 12 or the fourth paragraph of Article 19 of this Law, or its registration is obtained by fraudulent or other illegitimate means. Other entities or individuals may request the trademark review and adjudication board to declare the aforesaid registered trademark invalid.

Article 68 

(Paragraph 1) is amended to:

A trademark agency that commits any of the following acts shall be ordered to make correction within a time limit by the Administrative Department for Industry and Commerce, be given a warning, and be fined not less than RMB 10,000 yuan but not more than RMB 100,000 yuan; the persons in charge who are directly responsible and other persons directly responsible shall be given a warning and be fined not less than RMB 5,000 yuan but not more than RMB 50,000 yuan; where a crime is constituted, criminal liabilities shall be investigated in accordance with the law:

  1. Fabricating or tampering with legal documents, seals or signatures, or using fabricated or tempered legal documents, seals or signatures during the handling of trademark-related matters;
  2. Soliciting trademark agency business by defaming other trademark agencies, or disrupting the order of the trademark agency market by other unjust means; or
  3. Violating the provisions of Article 4 or the third or fourth paragraph of Article 19 of this Law.

(Paragraph 4) is added as:

For making the application of trademark for registration in bad faith, the administrative penalties including warning or fine shall be given according to the circumstances; for bringing the trademark lawsuit mala fide, the people’s court shall punish in accordance with the law.

ASPECT – 2

INCREASING PENALTIES FOR INFRINGEMENT

(Changes are highlighted in red)

Article 63

(Paragraph 1) is amended to:

The amount of damages for infringement on the exclusive right to use a trademark shall be determined based on the actual loss suffered by the right holder as a result of the infringement; if it is difficult to determine the actual loss, the amount of damages may be determined according to the profits gained from there by the infringer, if it is difficult to determine both the loss of the right holder and the profits gained by the infringer, the amount of damages may be reasonably determined in reference to the multiples of the trademark for royalties. Where an infringer maliciously infringes upon another party’s exclusive right to use a trademark and falls under serious circumstances, the amount of damages may be determined as not less than one time but not more than five times the amount that is determined according to the aforesaid methods. The amount of damages shall cover the reasonable expenses paid by the right holder for stopping the infringing act.

(Paragraph 3) is amended to:

Where it is difficult to determine the actual loss suffered by the right holder as a result of the infringement, the profits gained by the infringer from the infringement or the royalties of the registered trademark concerned, the people’s court shall render a judgment awarding damages in an amount not more than RMB five million yuan based on the circumstances of the infringing acts.

(Paragraph 4) is added as:

When hearing a trademark dispute case, the people’s court shall, except in exceptional circumstances, order to destroy the goods bearing counterfeit registered trademarks at the request made by the right holder; and shall order to destroy the materials and instruments which are mainly used to manufacture the goods bearing counterfeit registered trademarks without compensation; or in exceptional circumstances, the court shall order the prohibition of the aforesaid materials and instruments from entering the commercial channels without compensation.

(Paragraph 5) is added as:

The goods bearing counterfeit registered trademarks shall not enter the market after merely being removed of counterfeit registered trademarks.

COMMENTS

Last year in China, there were many trademark applications for registration. These applications faced several practical problems of extensive bad-faith trademark squatting, trademark hoarding and continuous trademark infringement. The fourth amendment to the Chinese Trademark Law is a solution to all these problems. The Trademark Office is now allowed to refuse the trademark applications for registration which are in bad-faith. The trademark applicants can also include “bad-faith application/registration not for the use purpose” as a legal basis in filing the trademark opposition. In a nutshell, all the amendments made would be helpful for the real trademark proprietors.

Cadbury loses two battles over a shade of purple

Trademark Registration

Cadbury, the second largest confectionary brand in the world, has used the purple packaging as its trademark for the “Dairy Milk” chocolate since 1995. Despite Cadbury’s official rights in the Registered Trademark of the shade Pantone 2685C, there has been a long-running “candy war” with their top competitor and rival Nestle over its purple packaging trademark rights. Nestle protested against the trademark claiming that the trademark application failed to adhere to durability requirements and the sample color on the document could fade over time and discredit the accuracy of the trademark. It also stated that Cadbury’s trademark was imprecise and generated ambiguity. In April 2019, The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) rendered a decision favoring Nestle by rejecting two of Cadbury UK Limited’s more recent trade mark applications corresponding to the purple shade as applied to its chocolate products.

Cadbury has so far failed to amend description of their 1995 registration, considered to provide limited protection for the color with respect to the chocolate in a tablet form even after making several attempts in the past for their Trademark Protection by following the decision to allow their description under UK no. 3019362 stated as “the color purple (Pantone 2685C) as shown in the form of application, applied to the whole visible surface of the packaging of goods”.

The loss in the court of appeal has put Cadbury in an uncertain place, leading a way for rivals to further challenge them. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

Pepsico lays down arms against Indian farmers

Intellectual Property Rights

Pepsico concedes defeat against the Indian farmers they had sued of Intellectual Property Rights infringement of illegally growing its registered potatoes. The officials of Pesico had initially sought damages of Rs 1.05 crore each from the farmers. Over 190 activists supported the Indian farmers and urged the union government to ask Pepsico India to draw out its “false” cases due to which the company has finally agreed to withdraw its cases against the farmers after discussions with the Indian government. Initially, Pepsico wanted to settle with the farmers by asking them either to sell their crops to Pepsi or stop growing them. But then, there was a huge social media criticism and repeated attacks by the political parties that led to pressure from its New York and Dubai offices to resolve the issue at the earliest. A Pepsico India spokesperson added in an emailed statement, “We are relying on the said discussions to find a long-term and amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection.”

Activists are now soliciting the Indian government to give more encouragement to the farmers that they can grow crops according to their needs and wishes. The Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) also stated, “The government should put into clear mechanisms to avoid repetition of this episode in future and Pepsico should have apologized for the intimidation and harassment of farmers in this case.” Moreover, the Indian political parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress also supported the farmers by tweeting against the company’s brazenly wrong decision to sue the farmers. Pepsico gave a statement saying that it had spent many years working with thousands of Indian farmers and was eventually impelled by the Indian government to withdraw its case against the farmers unregistered to grow its potato variety.More Visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com/

 

 

 

Australia’s Bega Cheese wins peanut butter packaging dispute against Kraft

Intellectual Property Rights

Australian company Bega Cheese finally ends a long-running legal battle with American food giant Kraft by owning the exclusive rights to the well-known peanut butter jar with a yellow lid. Initially, Kraft took the Australian company to the Federal Court alleging Bega engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct over the marketing of its peanut butter.

In 2013, the US food giant’s Australian subsidiary Krafts Food Limited was renamed Mondelez Australia. Mondelez Australia traded the Kraft brand and peanut butter packaging under a license agreement and after some time, in 2017, sold the peanut butter business to Bega Cheese which began selling it in a yellow-labeled jar with a lid and a red or blue peanut butter logo. But Kraft claimed Mondelez couldn’t sell the rights to use Kraft’s peanut butter packaging as their Intellectual Property Rights were obnoxiously violated by a company who merely had a license to use it. On Wednesday, the Federal court Justice David O’ Callaghan delivered his judgment by declaring that the rights transferred to Bega were part of the sales agreement between it and Mondelez. As a result, the Australian company is now “exclusively entitled” to use the current packaging of yellow lid, and red and blue peanut label. A further hearing will be held to decide orders and discussions about damages. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/

USTR retains India on the Priority Watch List

Intellectual Property Rights

The United States Trade Representative (USTR), yearly conducts the Special 301 Report, a result of an annual review of the state of IP protection and enforcement in US trading partners around the world. This list includes the Priority watch list countries identified as having several serious Intellectual Property Rights inadequacies that need an increased USTR supervision. Due to India’s insufficient measurable improvements on the Intellectual Property Rights framework, it once again became a victim of the Priority Watch list for the 27th year in a row. Along with India, USTR has identified 11 countries in its Priority Watch List including China, Indonesia, Russia, etc. In the recent Special 301 Report issued by the USTR, the US termed India as “one of the world’s most challenging major economies” corresponding to the management, protection and enforcement of intellectual property.

Although India has taken several steps in the past to discuss the problems of enforcement of the IP rights, many of the actions have not yet converted into tangible advantages for the creators, and, it is a matter of fact that, yes, India has definitely dismissed the observations in the Special 301 report over the years admitting it as a unilateral report of the US since India was completely amenable with multi lateral IP directives.

In this report, the US accused India of having major long-hauling IP decisions making it difficult for the applicants to receive and perpetuate patents in their respective businesses, specifically for pharmaceuticals. The report even claimed that both India and China were the leading sources of the spurious medicines distributed globally. Although the exact figures remain undisclosed, studies suggest that up to 20% of the drugs sold in the Indian markets are forged and could pose a serious threat to life. The USTR also declared that India maintained exceptionally high custom duties towards IP intensive products such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, solar energy equipment, to name a few, in spite of India’s repeated premises of restraining IP laws to increase the access to the growing trend in technologies.

At the same time, the report also noted the progress made by India in the last one year by appreciating India’s Cell for Intellectual Property Rights Promotion and Management (CIPAM) efforts to unravel processes, encourage commercialization, and increase IP awareness.

In a nutshell, the USTR wants the governments of the countries included in the Priority Watch list to support the IP systems by making sure to use obligatory licenses only when the circumstances are extremely unlikely and after putting in all the efforts required to procure authorization from the patent owner using rational terms and conditions. The US will continue to look at developments as required with the trading partners including India. More Visit: http://trademarkmaldives.com/