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Je Suis Charlie, Samsung, Blackberry, Apple, GoPro, India, gTLDs – the week in IP



Michael Loney


Applications for trade marks on Je Suis Charlie, rumours of Samsung buying Blackberry, GoPro’s shares plummeting on news of an Apple patent, India seeking a geographical indication for yoga, and gTLDs breaking the 4 million mark were among the IP stories hitting the headlines this week

Applying for Je Suis Charlie

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo, some opportunists are attempting to trade mark the "Je Suis Charlie" phrase that has become popular as an expression of solidarity on social media.

The BBC reports there have been more than 50 French trade mark applications for the phrase. Belgium business Yanick Uytterhaegen applied for a trade mark on the phrase for commercial goods but has since withdrawn his application at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property after a backlash against the move on social media. A family trust in Australia also applied to trade mark the phrase and Charlie Hebdo on January 12. In addition, January 9 saw the first trade mark application for the Je Suis Charlie phrase in the US.

The EverythingTrademarks.com blog had a good post outlining why people should not file a trade mark application for a trending rallying cry, as also happened for "Boston Strong", "Occupy Wall Street", "Hands Up Don’t Shoot" and "I Can’t Breathe".

Trade mark attorney Roberto Ledesma said in the blog post:

"I write this post on the off chance that anyone considering filing a trademark application for JE SUIS CHARLIE — or any future trending rallying cries — finds it, reads it and reconsiders. Here’s why:

· The USPTO will refuse your application.

· You will not get your money back.

· You may be publicly ridiculed.

So don’t even try. It’s as simple as that."

He added: "Trade marks are source identifiers. They point to a single source for certain goods and/or services. Common and popular rallying cries fail to function as trade marks because the public does not identify them with a single source. Instead, the public views them as conveying an informational message about the cause or issue being addressed."


Is Samsung eyeing Blackberry?

Rumours resurfaced this week of Samsung recently offering to buy Blackberry for as much as $7.5 billion. Reuters reported that a person familiar with the matter said Samsung is seeking Blackberry’s patents as it battles Apple.

Reuters said Blackberry's patent portfolio is composed of roughly 44,000 patents, worth more than $1.43 billion in net book value as of August last year, adding that many analysts think they could be worth much more.

Blackberry responded to the reports by saying: "BlackBerry…is aware of certain press reports published today with respect to a possible offer by Samsung to purchase BlackBerry. BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry. BlackBerry’s policy is not to comment on rumours or speculation, and accordingly it does not intend to comment further."


GoPro investors fear Apple patent

Shares in high-definition camera maker GoPro plummeted this week after Apple was granted a patent for a remote-control camera system. Investors worried that Apple would develop products similar to GoPro’s. GoPro’s shares fell 12% on January 13 as a result.

Apple’s patent was applied for in 2012. According to the PatentlyApple website, the patent notes that the new camera would be secured to various objects such as a bike helmet or scuba mask.


A geographical indication for yoga?

The Atlantic reported this week that India may be considering securing a geographical indication for yoga. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month launched an effort to have yoga become recognised as an Indian practice grounded in the Hindu tradition.

The article noted that – unlike examples such as champagne – India may struggle to achieve its goal because yoga cannot be held in your hand.

It quoted Sonia Katyal, an IP law professor at Fordham University, as saying: "While yoga certainly originated in India, its widespread adoption in the West – including the hundreds of types of yogas created by enterprising westerners like mommy-and-me yoga, nude yoga, dog yoga – makes it a little harder to explain how its Indian origins are always essential to the practice or characteristics of yoga today."

gTLD registrations break 4m

The number of domain names registered using a gTLD domain name extension has surpassed 4 million. As of Friday January 16, more than 4,019, 200 gTLDs domain name extensions had been registered, according to ntldstats.com.

The Domains said that the IDN that translates to "website/net address" in simplified Chinese is now the second most registered new domain extension. The website said that more than 350,000 of the most recent 500,000 domain registrations have been added to the registry that is operating that IDN.



Also on the blog this week:

Protecting nation brands and country names

Google enters top 10 in US patent recipient rankings



In our news and analysis this week:

New US patent reform coalition launched

Weintraub Tobin hires head of IP group

WIPO launches Global Design Database

Record patent filings at EPO in 2014

Apple and Ericsson battle over royalty rates

CJEU clarifies contractual limits on database use

India’s Section 3(d) strikes again

Federal Circuit judge says willfulness jurisprudence needs review

China’s TMO computer problems force rights holders to adapt

US patent litigation rocketed 32% in December – Lex Machina

Baker Botts expands in London

Pooley sets up new firm

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