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Around the world of trademarks in two days

“This would normally be a two-week course,” said Charles Gielen, a part-time professor at the University of Groningen, before his presentation on trademark law in Europe

Laughter filled the room, as Gielen now only had one hour.

In a span of two days, the Academic Course on International Trademark Law and Practice provided an informative overview of trademark systems across the globe. Among the audience were students, in-house counsel and other IP practitioners.

“It’s phenomenally useful,” said Paul Determan, a law student at the University of New Hampshire. “How is legislation in other countries different from the U.S.? There’s no other way to get all this information in a span of 48 hours.”

On the first day, trademark experts and professors shared experiences and reviewed registration systems and case law from such regions as Canada, the U.S., Western Europe, South America, Mexico and Central America.

“I have difficulty with the decisions of the European court,” joked Gielen, who also practices at NautaDutilh in Amsterdam.

Gielen gave a briefing on Community trade mark regulations and the difficulties of harmonizing laws among culturally diverse jurisdictions in the region. He was citing a case that involved the rejection of stand-up pouches as three-dimensional marks in 2006, in which the court said the difficulty with such marks is that consumers don’t perceive them as marks.

“These are the same judges who accepted musical notations as marks,” said Gielen. “It’s probably because they played musical instruments.”

But Gielen praised the Court of Justice generally and described the Community trade mark system as “fantastic.” He ended the session by recommending trademark owners to file national marks if they will not be using the marks in a number of jurisdictions.

On day two, lecturers provided a crash course on such regions as Asia-Pacific, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Pravin Anand of Anand and Anand in New Delhi shared recent developments and improvements in trademark law in India. Such improvements include last year’s adoption of the 9th Edition of the Nice classification, which expands the number of classes covered from 42 to 45, and the significant time reduction in litigations.

Anand said that if parties are willing to work together, litigation can finish in six months to a year. The country has also drafted ambush marketing legislation in light of last year’s Commonwealth Games.

While the recent loss of 44,000 trademark files has raised eyebrows about the country’s competence in handling administrative affairs, Anand said the trademarks office has been working hard to encourage trademark owners to look at the list of lost files and putting in money for data restoration.

The two-day course featured 16 different speakers and attracted near 50 attendees each day. It took place at the Marriott Marquis.

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