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FedEx, LVMH/eBay, TM surveys, universities and Chubby Checker – the week in IP

Settlements between LVMH and eBay and between Chubby Checker and HP, new life for trade mark surveys, Fed Ex in the dock and the universities with the most US patents – some of the IP-related news you may have missed this week

FedEx and the fake pharmacies

Courier company Fed Ex will be in court in San Francisco next week, after it was indicted by a Grand Jury on charges of conspiring to traffic in controlled substances and mis-branded prescription drugs on Thursday. It is specifically accused of delivering goods for illegal online pharmacies such as the Chhabra-Smoley Organization and Superior Drugs. said FedEx “now faces upwards of $820 million in fines for their alleged role as a fake online pharmacy courier” while NBC News reported that the company said it “will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees”.

eBay and LVMH settle

A legal battle between luxury goods company LVMH and internet retailer eBay that dates back more than six years has been settled, according to Marketing Magazine. In a short statement, the two companies announced “a cooperative effort to protect IP rights and combat counterfeits in online commerce” promising that consumers will enjoy a safer digital environment.

Details of the agreement were not published. The history of the litigation between the parties up to that point was reported by Managing IP in May 2012.

New life for trade mark surveys

Many thought it was dead, but the survey in UK trade mark litigation may have been saved from extinction, following a judgment this week in a case between Enterprise Holdings and Europcar concerning infringement of a trade mark for a stylised letter E on a green background. After hearing evidence from both sides, Mr Justice Morgan ruled that Enterprise could bring survey evidence in the trial.

On the IP Kat blog, Aaron Wood noted that the judge “made a number of significant comments on the admissibility of survey evidence, as well as making findings on the validity of the survey itself”. However, readers of this blog will recall that Appeal Court judges are even more sceptical about surveys than their junior counterparts are, so if Europcar chooses to appeal then this may not be the end of the story.

Top universities in US

Tsinghua University is the only non-US institution to feature in the top 10 universities granted US patents in 2013, according to figures compiled by the IPO and reported by Kevin Noonan on Patent Docs. The Chinese university ranks third, with 193 patents, behind the University of California (399) and MIT (281). Stanford, the University of Texas, WARF, the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan complete the top 10. Of the top 100, 62 are US universities, and 18 are Chinese.


Finally, we couldn’t complete this week’s roundup without mentioning the settlement of litigation between Chubby Checker (left) and HP. The singer had sued the computer company for using his trade marked name on an app that purported to estimate penis size based on shoe size. HP have agreed not to use his name, likeness or related trademarks, though other details of the settlement are confidential.

The world of IP never ceases to surprise.

Other blog posts published this week:

A tale of sports stars, rappers and lawyers

Brüstle debunked

Real-life lessons in open innovation and IP

Not so influential now – UK replaces IP minister

Also on Managing IP this week (subscription or trial needed for full access):

Demand letters bill last hope for patent reform this Congress

Bombay High Court upholds Nexavar compulsory licence

Fox may be forced to rebrand Glee TV show

IP’s most influential people 2014

Alice already influencing USPTO and Federal Circuit

Ukrainian crash claims NautaDutilh’s John Allen

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