• UE Fair use criteria and trademark infringement


    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p> </o:p>Céline SA, a famous clothing company, owner of trademark CELINE, sued Company Céline SARL, incorporated for a clothes confectionery activity, and won in first instance before French Courts.

    <o:p> </o:p>A recourse was filed and the French Court of Appeal decided to question the ECJ on trademark infringement asking whether the adoption, by a third party without authorisation, of a registered word mark, as a company, trade or shop name in connection with the marketing of identical goods, amounts to use of that mark in the course of trade which the proprietor is entitled to stop.

    <o:p> </o:p>Although the principle is a trademark owner has an exclusive right, two main points need to be detailed: is there an illegal use if the sign, used as a company name, is not appended on identical goods or services of the company? Is there an illegal use if only a link may be established between the company name and the identical goods and services it distributes?

    <o:p> </o:p>The ECJ replied positively to the second question, avoiding the fact that the sign is not appended on the goods and services, and ruling that the “unauthorised use by a third party of a company name, trade name or shop name which is identical to an earlier mark in connection with the marketing of goods which are identical to those in relation to which that mark was registered constitutes use which the proprietor of that mark is entitled to prevent in accordance with Article 5(1)(a) of the directive, where the use is in relation to goods in such a way as to affect or be liable to affect the functions of the mark.

    <o:p> </o:p>In fact, the ECJ pointed out that a connection with the marketing of identical goods is sufficient. Nevertheless, the ECJ ad that  it  may be legal if the use is in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters (see: ECJ C-228/03 March 17/2005), seeming to confirm his ruling through this way.

    <o:p> </o:p>In conclusion, we have the view that the decision is concordant with the spirit of the trademark law continuing to offer a protection to trademark owners against competitors without prior rights in their relevant market; moreover using the above cited UE “fair use criteria” already well established in caselaws.
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    Romain BUSNEL
    IP LAWYER


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  • <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p><o:p> </o:p> Being always advanced in analysing case law tendencies permits to turn to hopeful ways for law firms client's problems.

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    One of our analysis about several decisions both in France and in UE ruling trademark confusion is to indicate the tendency indicated here above.

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    In France, Meridien (a Company) filed an opposition against the registration of the French word Trademark "MOMENTO" related to food services. This opposition was based on he registered Trademark "MOMENTS" covering products and services of classes 30 and 40.

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    Although the French opposition division refused the registration of the Trademark application, the court of appeal cancelled this decision partially rejecting two from the three key points of trademarks confusion analysis (i.e visual and phonetic) to rather involve the conceptual/intellectual comparison -the signification and the Italian origin of the word "MOMENTO" is obvious, so the two signs were different enough for the relevant public to not confuse-.

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    Two decisions of the OHIM (second board of appeal: June 28, 2007 Superman vs/ Man, and June 29, 2007 Lovenox vs/ Loterox) also showcase this tendency and seem to put the intellectual preponderance roots down.

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    For Superman's case, DC Comics filed an application to register "Superman" in several classes though MAN filed an opposition against, based on many Trademarks (Germans and CTM's for "MAN") .

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    The opposition division issued a decision rejecting the opposition because of the predominance of the conceptual meanings, considered as sufficient to counteract the visual and phonetic similarities.

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    The board confirmed it and added that "conceptual differences which distinguish the marks at issue may be such as to counteract to a large extent the visual and aural similarities between them".

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    These decisions go hand in hand with the prediction that obviously there is an evolution in the similarity analysis recently done, and to be done by Trademark law firms through their earlier rights searches and reports as well as by the several opposition divisions through their opposition decisions.

    Romain BUSNEL - IP LAWYER

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  • <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>Further to our previous articles about Internet ant its famous tools (eBay, Google), we are continuing on our debriefing about content providers.

    <o:p> </o:p>In late June, the President of the High court of Paris found, in a summary judgment dated 22, that MySpace (famous networking website) is liable for infringing videos of the so called French comedian Jean-Yves Lafesse, the "Buttock".

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    The main legal point is about the real acts of the website: is it a hosting provider or a publisher?

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    In fact, the high court of first instance of Paris's decision dated July 13th 2007, ruled Dailymotion was not a publisher but only a hosting provider because the users provide themselves the contents on the website.
     
    Nevertheless, regarding the French act of 2004 for the confidence in digital environment, the judgment pointed out the fact that the site was not under the obligation to seek facts of copyrights infringements on the site and so can not be held liable for infringement, except if it was aware of the presence of illegal contents on its website (provision 6-I-2 French Act coming from Directive 2000/31/EC of June 8th 2000).

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    Thus, in Buttock's case, the Court considered MySpace was not only a host of the infringing videos, but also a publisher due to the structures, control over the posting and broadcasting, and money sums of advertising displayed.

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    The Court ruled MySpace shall notably pay 50 000 euros for commercial prejudice, and ordered to delete illegal pages.

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    The French Humorist doesn't stop there and has also sued Youtube and Dailymotion (respectively for 8 millions and 1,5 millions Euros business prejudice).

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    These decisions, coupled with recent rulings in Germany and Belgium in Europe and regarding US Digital Millenium Copyright Act in USA, seems to indicate that Internet companies providing contents or services will face legal issues relative to content posted on their sites.
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    Romain Busnel – IP lawyer

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  • Fait divers :

    Le 2 mai dernier, 24 000 contrefaçons de lunettes de luxe étaient saisies par les douaniers de Roissy. Les marques contrefaites : Chanel, Dior, Cartier ou encore Armani et Dolce&Gabanna (valeur estimée de ces marchandises : 5 350 000 euros). La rôle des douaniers dans notre secteur est à l'évidence indispensable.


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  • Nous savons que la contrefaçon représente 8 à 10% du commerce mondial. Elle touche tous les secteurs d'activité : des pièces automobiles, aux produits de luxe, en passant par les produits pharmaceutiques. Principales victimes de ce commerce parallèle, évidemment les entreprises, mais également les consommateurs (cas des produits cosmétiques, pharmaceutiques en premier lieu). Nous avons encore des exemples récents à l'appui de ce constat : Il y a un mois, on nous annoncait la saisie de produits cosmétiques contrefaisant la marque BOURGEOIS ; hier encore, nous apprenions que la Direction des douanes avait procédé dans une bojouterie parisienne à la saisie de diverses contrefaçons HERMES, LOUIS VUITTON. Le montant estimé de cette découverte : 5 millions d'euros (Matin Plus, 29 mars 2007). Face à une augmentation croissante des actes de contrefaçons à travers le Monde, les juristes PI et douaniers jouent un rôle préventif, mais également offensif, incontournable dans la défense des marques et modèles. Gwénaelle GOELER IPWEBNEWS.

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