IP in the news - 3 October 2014


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Summary: Our regular update on developments in the world of IP, this week featuring Google, false renewal notices, prison sentences for piracy, stem cells and ice cream tubs.

Google, Data Protection and Defamation

The High Court has ruled that a businessman can sue Google in the UK in respect of alleged defamatory comments published by an anonymous user on the internet, finding that there was a case that s.10 and s.14 of the Data Protection Act 1998 had been breached. Whilst the individual was now based in Hong Kong, he could bring the action in the UK because he had business interests and assets here (the Hegglin case).

False Renewal Notices and Trade Marks

The UK IP Office finally took action against two companies issuing bogus trade mark renewal notices, obtaining a judgment that they were passing themselves off as the UKIPO. Unfortunately it is now common practice for companies to send notices to trade mark applicants requiring payments to be made to them which look like official notices from the UKIPO. We always advise clients only to pay fees to us so that we can be sure that any payments being made are genuine.

Piracy and Copyright

A man was sentenced to almost three years in prison after recording the movie Fast and Furious 6 on a camcorder in his local cinema on its first day of release and then selling copies on the internet for £1.50. Staggeringly, 750,000 copies of the film were downloaded.

Human Embryos and Patents

The Advocate General’s opinion in the ISCC case concluded that stem cells obtained from parthenogenetically stimulated human ova were not excluded from patent protection as human embryos. The Advocate General distinguished the ECJ’s decision in the Brüstle case, which held that stem cells obtained directly or indirectly from human embryos were not patentable, on that basis that the key issue was whether the organism has the "inherent capacity to develop into a human being", which parthenogenic cells do not.

3D Shapes and Trade Marks

Here’s another case demonstrating the difficulties in registering 3-D shapes as trade marks. The applicant for a Community Trade Mark seeking to register the shapes of its containers and packaging for ice-cream as shown below failed on the basis that the shapes were commonly used for ice-cream, they had only produced evidence of acquired distinctiveness in 8 EU countries (8 EU countries being said by the Board of Appeal not to amount to a substantial part of the EU), and they had always used the brand name on the packaging such that it could not be said that consumers identified the goods by the shape of the packaging alone (the Giorgis case).

Ice cream container

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