MARQUES in Monte Carlo: a five-minute update
It’s not all drinking and gambling at the MARQUES conference in Monte Carlo. Here are five tidbits from today’s meetings, where some 760 professionals from 70 countries are discussing trade mark issues
Are cities brands?
A bonus speaker this morning was the CEO of Monaco Brands, which
owns some 93 national and 18 international trade mark
registrations for marks such as Monaco and Monte Carlo. As well
as defending the marks against unauthorised use, Monaco Brands
licenses them for products such as Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo,
Radio Monte Carlo and Les Perles de Monte Carlo.
Coincidentally, London Mayor Boris Johnson was today
reported as calling his city the UK’s most
powerful brand. So are cities brands? And if so does this raise
problems about who can use them (events, businesses, sports
teams?), what happens where two cities share the same name
(think London, Ontario or Paris, Texas) or brands that
incorporate city names – DKNY, Edinburgh Woollen Mill
or Kathmandu (a New Zealand, not Nepalese, company)?
Rethinking the concept of creator
The keynote speaker today was Karl Pilny, who tackled
a wide range of topics including the rise of Asia, the shift to
"immaterial assets" and how giant spiders will take over the
world following a nuclear holocaust. One avenue I found
particularly challenging was his suggestion that the concepts
of creator and owner may have to be rethought. He discussed
this in the light of artificial intelligence and
self-programming software, but the question also comes up in
the context of social media, derivative works and fan fiction.
Creation and ownership are fundamental to IP, but is it time to
start rethinking them?
A new MARQUES website
Whether or not you’re a member, visit the new
MARQUES website – unveiled formally today by a
champagne-wielding Hanne Weywardt of MAQS Law Firm, and chair
of the Communication
& Membership Team. As a member of that Team, I can take
no credit for the year-long work of refreshing the site, but
can testify to the hours that many other people have put in.
There are many improvements in both substance and
appearance/accessibility, and MARQUES is now also hosting the
Class 99 design blog, alongside the existing Class 46 trade
The cases that keep on giving
You might think there is little more to say on either
Apple v Samsung or
IP Translator. You’d be wrong. A session
this afternoon revealed new insights on both cases (or, if you
prefer, sagas). Particularly thought provoking was barrister
Simon Malynicz’s argument that IP
Translator effectively makes the substantive law on trade
marks (which is supposed to be harmonised in the EU) different,
and that the position is crying out for forum shopping. Simon
points out that "CTMs don’t exist in a bubble in
Alicante" and that
OHIM’s interpretation of the CJEU ruling
(which some people think is wrong anyway) is not binding on
national courts, meaning you could sue on the same facts in
different countries and get different results. Result; more,
not less, uncertainty.
Michael’s Madrid masterclass
Those of us who resisted the temptations of the pool this
afternoon were rewarded with some great advice from Michael
Leonard of Fox Rothschild on how to increase your chances of
getting Madrid applications registered in the US. Only 4% of
Madrid applications are accepted without objection by the
USPTO, and Michael did not seem optimistic that number would
change soon. But he did have lots of practical advice on using
WIPO’s Madrid Goods &
Services Manager, making voluntary amendment filings,
avoiding problems with entity descriptions and filling in MM18
forms. Clearly some of this is complicated, but
it’s good to know there is hope!
Those are just a few tasters of
today’s proceedings. Now it’s time to
head for the pool bar. We hope to bring you more news from
Monte Carlo tomorrow.