For many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year: decorating the house, wrapping presents and, last but not least, listening to cheesy Christmas songs, some of which are among the highest-earning songs of all time. When Santa Claus comes to town, however, he might bring some gift-wrapped intellectual property lawsuits with him. The European Patent Office, for example, records many patents that mention Christmas in their title. Most of these patents relate to Christmas trees or their decoration. But patents are not the only kind of intellectual property right that could cool your Christmas cheer. Continue Reading A Very Intellectual Property Christmas
Konstantin von Werder is a counsel in the Intellectual Property practice of Mayer Brown´s Frankfurt office. He focuses on trademark and unfair competition law (UWG). He has extensive experience and expertise as a litigator and advises clients in legal disputes (warning letters, preliminary injunctions, actions on the merits). Konstantin also coordinates the infringement proceedings for his clients abroad. Furthermore, he advises national and international clients on patent, design and copyright law. Moreover, he has particular expertise and experience in drafting complex license and distribution agreements and in providing advice on research and development agreements. His clients include companies in the pharmaceuticals and automotive industry as well as in the hotel, catering and consumer goods sector.
On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that a trademark on the shape of the Rubik’s Cube—supposedly the world’s bestselling toy of all time—is invalid (Case C‑30/15 P). With its judgment, the Court, inter alia, annulled a 2009 decision of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) that initially confirmed registration of the cube as an EU trademark.
The Rubik’s Cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik. It was originally named “Magic Cube.” In 1980, the toy was renamed Rubik’s Cube and launched internationally. Continue Reading Court of Justice of the EU: The Shape of the Rubik’s Cube Cannot Be Trademarked
When cobwebs and tombstones start to show up in your neighborhood, probably something wicked is coming your way—except that one night of the year, on Halloween. Even though Halloween involves frightening things—haunted houses, the undead, tricks in response to no treats—it is ultimately about carefree fun. And there’s candy! But if you are in a Halloween-related business, there is a genuinely scary side to the holiday—IP issues that, if ignored, could lead to a wicked lawsuit. Continue Reading Avoid the Halloween “Trick” of an Intellectual Property Lawsuit
On 15 September 2016 (C-484/14), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the operator of a shop, hotel or bar that offers free Wi-Fi to the public is not liable for copyright infringements committed by the network’s users. However, the operator may be required to password-protect its network in order to prevent—or cease—these infringements. Continue Reading Court of Justice of the EU: Retailers Offering Free Wi-Fi Not Liable for Patrons’ Copyright Infringements
The former governing mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, a member of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD, has suffered a legal defeat in his year-plus battle with the German publishing house Axel Springer. On 27 September 2016 (VI ZR 310/14), the German Federal Court of Justice ruled that pictures of Wowereit in a Berlin bar on the eve of a vote of no confidence against him could be published in Springer’s daily magazine BILD without the former mayor’s consent. Continue Reading Former Mayor of Berlin Suffers Painful Defeat Over the Publication of Alleged Partying Pictures in German Magazine
On 11 July 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a unanimous en banc ruling in The Medicines Company v. Hospira Inc. that a sale of manufacturing services by a contract manufacturer to an inventor to create embodiments of a patented product for the inventor does not trigger the on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C. § 102. Continue Reading US Federal Circuit: Outsourced Manufacturing Is No Ground for Invalidity Under the On-Sale Bar
On 31 May 2016, the Regional Court of Berlin (15 O 428/15) ruled that photographs of public domain paintings are, in principle, protected by a copyright-related right in section 72 of the German Copyright Act. The case involved a request to take down several pictures hosted on Wikimedia Commons as public domain images that had been taken by a photographer employed by the Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany. Responding to the judgment, the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Germany wrote that the decision did not pay adequate attention to the long-term damage this judgment represents to accessing public domain works.
The Wikimedia Foundation already announced its plans to appeal the case to the next level of appellate court—the Kammergericht Berlin—and, if necessary, to take it all the way to the Federal Court of Justice. Continue Reading Wikimedia Loses German Copyright Case Over Photographs of Public Domain Paintings
On 16 June 2016, the General Court of the European Union rejected an opposition by Fútbol Club Barcelona to the wordmark “KULE” (T‑614/14). The opposition was based on an alleged infringement of the club’s Spanish wordmark “CULE,” the term culé being a Spanish variation of the Catalan word cul and used as a nickname for supporters of the club. Apparently, this is not the only negative experience Fútbol Club Barcelona has had with the General Court in recent years. In 2015, the General Court dismissed an action brought by the club seeking registration of the outline of its crest as a Community trademark (T-615/14). Continue Reading EU General Court: FC Barcelona Loses Dispute Over Its “CULE” Trademark
In 2013, several artists and music production companies filed a constitutional complaint with the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) against two Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) rulings (I ZR 112/06, I ZR 182/11) that held that the sampling of a two-second sound sequence was not admissible under the German Copyright Act (UrhG). In music, “sampling” is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it in a different song or piece. Sampling is particularly common in modern hip-hop and electronic music.
The complainants argued that the Federal Court of Justice rulings violated their fundamental right to artistic freedom enshrined in Art. 5 para. 3 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG). On 31 May 2016, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court granted the constitutional complaint. Continue Reading German Federal Constitutional Court: Sampling Music May Not Be Copyright Infringement
The EU Trademark Regulation (2015/2424/EU) (the “new Regulation”) amending the Community Trademark Regulation (the “old Regulation”) entered into force on 23 March 2016. Among other things, it brought about new rules concerning the transit of counterfeit trademark goods through the EU. Continue Reading The Transit of Goods Under the New EU Trademark Regulation