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Topshop, ear printing, Nigerian music and IP heroes – weekly web round up

It may be August, but the world of IP keeps revolving. Here are some updates from Australia, the US and Nigeria - and an opportunity to nominate your own unsung IP hero

TopshopTopshop trade mark tussle

Clothing retailer Topshop’s plans to expand into Australia may be delayed due to trade mark issues, reports WA Today. A woman’s boutique has been doing business in Perth as Topshop Fashions for nearly 40 years, and its owner Robyn Swayn has initiated opposition proceedings against her much larger competitor for the name. Topshop’s parent company Arcadia Group has reportedly made an offer of a few thousand dollars to buy the mark, but Swayn said the amount is not enough.

Despite her holdout, Swayn sounds resigned to eventually dropping her opposition. She explained that all she wants is enough money for new signs and advertising to notify her customers of the change, and a “little bit toward the goodwill that I paid for, to recoup some of my costs”.

"I don't want to stop them coming here because I know most of the women in Perth would hunt me down and stone me," she said.

Is there a design patent on your ear?

Ars Technica reports that scientists from Princeton and Johns Hopkins have created a living human ear using among other things a 3D printer. In addition to the printed sections, the ear has grown cartilage and implanted electronics to pick up the actual sound wave. At this time, the ear must be hooked to an audio processing device such as a computer.

The ear is not yet ready for mass use and given that additional manufacturing steps are needed, won’t raise the same IP concerns brought about by other uses of 3D printing. However, as the technology advances, patent rights or even design rights may be implicated when companies start designing aesthetically forward thinking ears to replace the plain ones that we were born with.

Digital music licensing in Nigeria

The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition are hosting the country’s first Digital Music Licensing Summit in Ikeja next Monday. Its objective is Working Together to Maximise Legal Digital Music Exploitation Gains in Nigeria and it will bring together sellers and buyers of digital music. Nigeria has a large and diverse music industry, and its movie industry (known as Nollywood) is the second largest in the world.

Who is your unsung hero?

On the IPEG blog, Severin de Wit takes various publications (including Managing IP) to task over our fondness for rankings, highlighting our recent list of the 50 most influential people in IP. He also notes that such lists neglect the unsung heroes – “the IP attorney in Belgium defending a trademark case successfully before a Belgian court ... the member of parliament in Lithuania who spoke knowledgably about IP and made a difference in Lithuania’s IP laws”. That gave us an idea for a new ranking – the IP unsung heroes. We’ve started a debate on LinkedIn and Facebook where you can nominate someone who has made a difference in the past year. Please tell us their name, and explain in up to 100 words why you chose them. As always, please don’t nominate yourself.

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