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IP and Legal Industry Updates



Essential Smartphone Faces Trade Mark Infringement Allegations Prior to Launch

The American computer programmer, engineer, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Andy Rubin recently announced his upcoming Essential smartphone.  Unfortunately before the product launch the company behind the Essential smartphone has been named in a trade mark infringement claim over the name Essential.

In August 2016, US based Spigen (a company that designs and manufactures cases and accessories for mobile devices) registered a Class 9 trade mark for the term “Essential.” Class 9 trade marks cover computer and technology products (including smartphones and accessories).

In the trade mark infringement complaint Spigen’s attorneys allege that the use of the term “Essential” in the Essential smartphone is a violation of Spigen’s trade mark which cause consumers confusion over the product’s origin.  They have therefore requested that Rubin’s company cease and desist from using any marks using the term “Essential”.

Disputes such as these are often settled outside of court with settlement agreements.  However if such terms cannot be agreed it could forced a rebrand of the new Essential smartphone.


Company Chief Executives Now More Aware of Trade Marks Value for Businesses

There are over 55 million active worldwide trade marks with 6 million trade mark applications filed in 2015.  The volume of trade marks applications continues to rise with an average annual growth rate of 7% over the last two years.  The amount of trade mark infringement cases resulting in court action has remained fairly consistent from 2005 to 2015, mainly due to negotiation and settlement deals rather than a reduction in trade mark infringement actions.

A recently published survey conducted by market research company Opinium looked at US, UK, Italian, Spanish, French and German company chief executives’ views on the positive and negative values of trade marks from a brand enforcement and trade mark infringement stand point.

Of the surveyed companies, the findings were as follows:

  • Factors considered most important when applying for a new trade mark included competitive positioning (45%) and whether a mark is “unique” (41%)
  • 20% had a process to actively watch more than 75% of their trade marks, although 50% watched only 26-75% of their marks.
  • 66% had plans to launch new trade marks within the next year.
  • 80% said they would likely launch more trade marks if clearance process were simpler.
  • 53% have taken some form of action against third party infringers
  • 80% believe trade mark infringement of their trade marks is increasing.


Ed Sheeran Settles Copyright Infringement Claim on Song ‘Photograph’

British singer song writer Ed Sheeran was recently reported to have settled a copyright infringement claim against him in the US worth $20m (£13.8m) with no admission of guilt.

The infringement claim centred over Ed Sheeran’s 2014 song called ‘Photograph’ which discusses a long-distance relationship inspired by Sheeran’s own experience of being away from his then-girlfriend while on tour.  ‘Photograph’ was said to have a similar structure to an earlier song called ‘Amazing’.  ‘Amazing’ is a song by British singer-songwriter Matt Cardle (who won X Factor in 2010), released as the third single from his successful debut studio album, Letters, on 19 February 2012.   ‘Amazing’ was co-written in 2009 by Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington.  The chord structures for both tracks were submitted as part of court documents and these revealed that the chorus of both songs shared 39 identical notes.

Source: Settles Patent Lawsuit for $12.5 Million

DNA Genotek (provider of biological sample collection products) sued (genealogy research website) for patent infringement.  The lawsuit centred on’s use of technology in their saliva collecting kits which was protected by a couple of DNA Genotek’s DNA testing US patents.

Following the recent settlement and licensing agreement (involving a $12.5 million payout by the patent infringement lawsuit has been dropped.  DNA Genotek has now granted a non-exclusive worldwide licence to the human saliva DNA collection patents for their DNA collection kits used as part of their genetic-testing service.


Melania Trump Fights Back at Illegal Use of her Trade Marks in Slovenia

Some entrepreneurs in Melania Trump’s native Slovenia have taken advantage of the American First Lady’s image and name in a bid to promote various Slovenian products such as honey and pancakes.

Mrs. Trump’s legal team issued a press release which was sent to all Slovenian media stating that the words ‘Trump,’ ‘Melania’ and ‘Melania Trump’ are all protected trade marks and that their use by third parties would be illegal.

The lawyers are prioritising legal action over any goods and services using violations of Melania Trump’s photo or last name for illicit financial gain.


BMW Wins Trade Mark Dispute against Two Chinese Firms

The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court ordered two Chinese companies (motor company Deguo Baoma Group and fashion house Chuangjia Group) to pay damages of f $432,000 to BMW after ruling in BMW’s favour in a trade mark infringement case.  Both companies were found to have illegally used BMW’s logo to capitalise of BMW’s established positive reputation in China.

The court concluded the “BMN” logo registered by Deguo Baoma was too similar to the famous BMW logo to be allowed.  Chuangjia was also accused of illegally using BMW’s logo on its range of clothes, shoes, and bags.


Disney Awarded Damages by Chinese Court Following Copyright Win for Film “Cars”

Disney and Pixar Animation were recently awarded damages by a Shanghai court after ruling that a Chinese-made film called “The Autobots” infringed copyright of Disney’s film “Cars”.  The infringing film, released in July 2015, had grossed the equivalent of $863,000.

Chinese producer Bluemtv and distributor G-Point were fined the equivalent of $190,000.  The court ruled the Chinese producers illegally used Disney’s characters and posters and the film title “Autobots” sounded similar to “Cars”.


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