In an interesting and potentially controversial decision, the Deputy Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks has cancelled Israel Trademark Application Number 178707 for a logo including the acronym IPEC, which stands for integrated physical emotional clearing.
Apparently the term relates to a type of therapy, but unsportingly, the Deputy Commissioner refrained from going into deals of what the therapy was, since it was apparently irrelevant to the discussion.
It may be irrelevant, but with trademark decisions sometimes appearing largely arbitrary and often not being all that interesting, I have extracted the following description from the trademark file to satisfy readers’ curiosity:
Providing information and conducting classes, seminars, conferences, training programs, consultation and workshops, in person, in groops [sic] and on line, in the field of natural healing of physical and emotional ailments and development and dissemination of course and training materials in connection therwith; all included In class 41.
Well that explains a lot doesn’t it?
The mark was filed in September 2005 by a Dr Kopenhagen, and in January 2006, within the three-month opposition period after acceptance in November 2005, an opposition was filed by a co-worker who claimed to have rights in the treatment.
In April 2010, Deputy Commissioner Shmulovich cancelled the mark, ruling that the argument was about rights to the treatment, not to the mark as an indication of a service provider for the treatment.
Shmulovich explained that whilst generally playing an adjudicational role in the proceedings, as keeper of the integrity of the trademark register, he could wear an inquisitional cap and represent the public interest.
Shmulovich argued that granting the mark would be tantamount to granting a monopoly for the treatment instead of indicating a service provider.
I can follow Shmulovich’s logic, but am not convinced.
The mark was accepted for opposition purposes with disclaimers as follows: Registration of this mark shall give no right to the exclusive use of the words INTEGRATED, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, CLEARING separately, but in the combination of the mark.
Shmulovich could reasonably have disclaimed the combination of words or even rights to the acronym. The logo taken as a whole can certainly serve as an indication of origin.
I see this as a misjudgment of Solomon. Shmulovich could have awarded custody of the baby to one side or the other, or could have divided the baby. So as not to award unique rights in the name of the baby, he’s killed it!
Shmulovich argues that it would have been wrong to give Edison a trademark for the term incandescent light bulb or an image of a light bulb, as that would have prevented competition. I disagree. If the name light bulb has been assigned to one party and used as a trademark, then a different term would have become the generic name of the item. We could be discussing Light Bulb (R) electrobeacon or something, and one could choose an electrobeacon from Light Bulb or from another supplier. It is only with hindsight that apportioning a monopoly for the term light bulb seems unreasonable. In the course of time, there could well be different versions of INTEGRATED, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, CLEARING; the classical IPEC of the Kopenhagen school; neo-classical IPEC of the opposer, etc.