Can An Israeli Opposer Force Applicant to Testify in Hebrew?

Disney Enterprises Inc filed a number of trademark applications including:

  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246341 for “The Jungle Book”
  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246342 for “Mowgli”
  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246096 for “Bagheera”
  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246098 for “Baloo”
  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246100 for “Kaa”
  • Israel Trademark Application No. 246117 for “Shere Khan”

The marks were filed for classes 9 and 41 and cover:

  • Audio discs; audio recordings; audio and video recordings; audio speakers; binoculars; calculators; camcorders; cameras; CD-ROMs; CD-ROM drives (as part of the computer); CD-ROM writers (as part of the computer); cellular telephones; cellular telephone accessories; cellular telephone cases; chips containing musical recordings; face plates for cellular telephones; compact disc players; compact disc recorders; compact discs; computer game programs; computer game cartridges and discs; computers; computer hardware; computer keyboards; computer monitors; computer mouse; computer disc drives; computer software; cordless telephones; decorative magnets; digital cameras; digital video and audio players; DVDs; DVD players; DVD recorders; digital versatile discs; digital video discs; pre-recorded optical and magneto-optical discs; optical and magneto-optical disc players and recorders for audio, video and computer data; electrical and optical cables; electronic personal organizers; eyeglass cases; eyeglasses; graduated rulers for office and stationery; headphones; karaoke machines; microphones; MP3 players; modems (as part of a computer); mouse pads; motion picture films; musical recordings; pagers; personal stereos; personal digital assistants; printers; radios; sunglasses; telephones; television sets; video cameras; video cassette recorders; video cassette players video game cartridges; video game discs; video cassettes videophones; video recordings; walkie-talkies; wrist and arm rests for use with computers; all included in class 9, and
  • Production, presentation, distribution, and rental of motion picture films; production, presentation, distribution, and rental of television and radio programs; production, presentation, distribution, and rental of sound and video recordings; entertainment information; online interactive entertainment; production of entertainment shows and interactive programs for distribution via television, cable, satellite, audio and video media, cartridges, laser discs, computer discs and electronic means; production and provision of entertainment, news, and information via communication and computer networks; amusement park and theme park services; educational and entertainment services rendered in or relating to theme parks; live stage shows; presentation of live performances; theater productions; entertainer services; all included in class 41.

Zvi Efra, Azriel Ashrov and Tamir Productions and Entertainment LTD opposed the marks.

Disney submitted a Declaration by Steven  Ackerman, and Adv. Roi Levi who represents the Opponents claims to have a language and learning impediments that make reading and writing English difficult and that as language skills are not essential for Israeli lawyers to pass the Israel Bar, he is not required to know English.

The official languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic and so there is no reason to allow Mr Ackerman to file a declaration in English.

Disney’s representative accused Adv. Roi Levi of inequitable behavior by filing frivolous requests as time-wasting tactics and noted that Disney had offered to have the declaration and its appendices be translated into Hebrew.

Adv. Roi Levi countered that Disney had behaved inequitably by providing a non-Hebrew expert witness and that they should provide a translator for the hearing to enable cross-examination of the witness.

Ruling

In Circular M.G. 7 by Moshe Goldberg from 29 April 1999, then Commissioner Goldberg allowed non-Israeli parties to provide evidence in English. However, in the Opposition to trademark application 222275 Merck vs. Shreiber (124 November 2011) it was ruled that where the one party does not speak English, they are entitled to have evidence translated into Hebrew at  the expense of the other party.

In this instance, Adv. Roi Levi had claimed not to understand English and to have learning and understanding dissabilities but had not provided evidence that this was the case. Certainly his allegations that Disney had acted in bad faith by choosing an English speaking witness were without foundation since Disney is an American company.

Disney were ordered to provide Hebrew language versions of the Affidavit and its appendices and to provide a licensed translator for the hearing.  However, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi reserved the right to award costs to Disney should it transpire that Opposer’s counsel did in fact understand English.

Comment

I do not know what a licensed or authorized translator is.

However, it seems reasonable that the hearing be conducted in English unless one party really can’t understand and in such cases, is entitled to a translation.

As to the marks, Disney made a cartoon of a book by Rudyard Kiping and apparently consider that they have rights to the title of the book for a very wide range of entertainment related services and noone else can make a film or show called the Jungle Book or anything including any of the names of the main characters. I think this is utterly unreasonable.  Disney deserves copyright to their artwork and that also should eventually enter the public domain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: