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  • Change Proposed for Russian Trademark LawWed, 07/23/2014 - 21:10

    This month, Russia’s authority responsible for intellectual property protection floated the idea of changing trademark law so that it no longer treats naturalistic images of products and descriptive trademarks as an argument for distinctiveness, according to a World Trademark Review blog post.

    The proposal drew mixed reactions, with some suggesting the amendment could soften rules for product packaging in the country, while others expressed fears it might prompt “a lot of concern,” noting there are far more serious problems that require the authority’s attention.

    A number of cases highlighting the issue that the Federation Council on Intellectual Property wants to deal with can be cited, according to WTR. These involve companies that hold trademark rights for packaging and descriptive elements that start infringement suits against competitors. One of them is crispbread maker Elizaveta, which holds trademark rights to the packaging of its products and has brought civil action against sector players using a similar image of crispbread for their packages.

    According to Support of Russia vice president Natalya Zolotykh, quoted in an article in Izvestia, the main problem is that holders of descriptive trademarks and trademarks containing a product image aim to monopolize the market by preventing others from selling similar products. Russia’s IP authority sees the very same problem, stating that this type of trademark has negative implications for the market. The council’s proposed change to the law seeks to close this loophole. While there’s no information about when the modifications will move forward, it’s expected that some companies will try to block it.

    Meanwhile, global consumer market research company Canadean considers that such a change would be good for local brands. The research company stated on its website that it is upbeat that it would open sound opportunities for new brands and drive a change in market trends among local consumers.

    What’s your opinion of the proposed amendment?

  • Samsung Tops BrandIndex Global Mid-Year Buzz ListWed, 07/23/2014 - 01:01

    Samsung dominated YouGov’s mid-year BrandIndex Buzz Rankings appearing in the Top 10 in 11 countries and ranking #1 in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

    Google, Google+, Apple, and Apple/iPhone made the Top 10 in eight countries, while

    Facebook and YouTube appear in three country rankings each.

    Car manufacturers had a strong showing with Volkswagen in the Top 10 in four countries, followed by BMW, Ford, Audi, and Volvo each in the Top 10 of two country lists. Electric carmaker Tesla made the rankings for the first time, debuting at #10 in Norway.

    About half of the country ranking lists led with local and regional brands in the #1 spot. China’s ranking was topped by local sauce brand Hai Tian, while Japan’s list was led by airline ANA.

    In the U.S. ranking, Amazonretained its top position despite an ongoing dispute with the country’s fourth-largest book publisher, Hachette, over e-book revenues. The online retailer moved up from last year’s #2 position, and was followed by fast food restaurant chain Subwayand YouTube.

    YouGov’s BrandIndex measures brand perception from a panel of 2.5 million consumers worldwide. You can check out the complete BrandIndex 2014 Global Rankings here.

  • Oregon Brewer Sues Law Firm for Trademark InfringementMon, 07/21/2014 - 19:30

    Full Sail Brewing, an employee-owned brewery in Oregon, has started legal proceedings against an Atlanta-based law firm over trademark infringement, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court shows.

    In the suit, the brewer claims that The Session Law Firm LLC is promoting its business with the help of “counterfeit versions” of its Sessions Lager logo, for which it obtained trademark rights in 2005. According to the brewer, the law firm’s mark is “confusingly similar” to the red-shield logo that it uses—both logos feature the word “Session” in the same black cursive font in the middle of a red shield outlined in grey. Full Sail is alleging that the law firm, which specializes in driving under the influence (DUI) prosecutions, is marketing itself to beer drinkers.

    The brewer notes in the suit that a piece of the law firm’s marketing material features a brown paper beer can bag imprinted with the Sessions Law logo. Full Sail insists that the logo that Session Law is using could cause consumers to make a “malicious” connection between its products and DUI, harming the positive reputation the brand has built up.

    The company is now asking for damages and an injunction barring the law firm from using the words “Session” or “Sessions” in the same cursive script in logos with a red-colored diamond shape.

    When contacted by Brewbound, Full Sail’s CEO Irene Firmat expressed hopes that the case would be resolved out of court, noting that the brewer has already started talks with the firm. While the brewer does not want to be linked to DUI or reckless drinking, Firmat also emphasized the necessity of protecting and defending trademarks.

    Do you see a likelihood of confusion?