IP in the News - 21 November 2014


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Summary: Our regular update on developments in the world of IP, this week featuring Golden Balls, patenting software and Ideal Home in the Court of Appeal.

Similarity and Trade Marks

The ongoing dispute between the couple who own the trade mark GOLDEN BALLS in certain classes and the opposition brought by FIFA which owns the earlier trade mark BALLON D'OR in respect of goods and services in the same classes has been referred back to the General Court. The ECJ held that as there was no need to show a likelihood of confusion under Art. 8(5) of the Community Trade Marks Regulation, a lower degree of similarity between the respective marks was required than with Art. 8(1)(b). Since the General Court had found a slight conceptual similarity between the marks it now needs to decide whether the reputation of the FIFA mark (or other factors) is such as to create a "link" between the marks.

Software and Patents

The Court of Appeal has held that an invention which allowed one computer to retrieve documents from another computer using requests sent by email, thereby avoiding the need for a continuous connection which was vulnerable to hacking, was not patentable. Patents are not available for computer software “as such”, and the invention failed the Aerotel test in that it did not make a technical contribution. Rather than improving the issues concerning connectivity, it simply avoided them by the use of email instead.

Similar Service and Trade Marks

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the IP Enterprise Court to allow two companies to continue using the same IDEAL HOME brand. One company is the publisher of Ideal Home magazine and the other operates the Ideal Home exhibition. Despite both companies being concerned with home appliances, the Court held that this was a rare case where both companies could co-exist without affecting the essential function of the publisher’s IDEAL HOME trade mark.

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