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5-a-day: Religious trade marks, Bowman v Monsanto and brand rankings

James Nurton

Today’s IP developments include religious trade marks in India, IP protection in Africa, the most influential patents of the 1990s, Bowman v Monstanto and the value of brand rankings

Praying for a trade mark

DeviMatthew George of the Spicy IP blog asks today whether religious organisations may secure trade marks under Indian law. A case is before the Kerala High Court over the Attukal Bhagawathy Temple Trust’s trade marks for a picture of its deity as well as the title “Sabarimala of Women”. While the trust has been granted the trade mark, George argues that it may not be a “proprietor” within the meaning of the Trade Marks Act.

Africa emerges

News emerged this week about long-delayed trade mark reforms in Ethiopia. It comes soon after INTA launched its Africa Rising initiative to highlight trade mark protection in the continent. Managing IP’s first focus on patents in Africa, published this month, is therefore timely. Local firm Spoor & Fisher has penned Q&A-style guides covering ARIPO, Botswana, Nigeria, OAPI and South Africa (all freely available to read).

Most influential patents

Flower potWhat do a process for screening biological agents, a method for manufacturing a semiconductor device and a method for wrapping flowers (pictured right) have in common? These are the most influential patents of the 1990s, according to patent mapping company Ambercite and based on the number of citations. The company’s list of the 10 most influential patents of the 1990s was published last week and it has a similar list from the 1980s, with the 2000s to follow. Congratulations to any inventors (and attorneys) whose hard work makes the list.

Biotech in focus at SCOTUS

The US Supreme Court will today hear Bowman v Monsanto, the first of two biotech-related patent cases this term. This one focuses on exhaustion of rights; the second, involving Myriad, is about whether isolated genes can be patented and will be heard on April 15. Both involve subtle questions about both patent law and science. We look forward to reading the transcripts and seeing what the judges make of them.

My brand’s bigger than yours

Ferrari F430 by Rudolf StrickerFerrari is the world’s most powerful brand, according to research by Brand Finance, while Apple is the most valuable. I have to say I find such lists mystifying – Brand Finance’s ranking is based on a combination of DCF, NPV, IBES and GDP and gives a rating from AAA to D (I may have missed some letters) – but I suppose they give marketers something to aim for. There do seem to be more and more of them (eg Interbrand and Superbrands) each with their own methodologies. Which is the most relevant for trade mark owners, I wonder, and why? Do you find them useful? Do you get a bonus in your pay packet if your brand moves up the table?


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