Back in February we reported on the Co-op Shop Decision. Essentially, in light of an early registrations for Co-Op and Super Co-Op trademarks, both owned by Mega Retailers who had bought out Blue Square, the Co-op Israel Supermarket Chain LTD were unable to register their logo, TM .
The Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha accepted that the registered marks may not be in use and gave Applicants 30 days to file a cancellation proceedings, offering to suspend her final ruling, pending a decision of non-use should it be filed.
The marks were indeed challenged in a cancellation proceeding filed on 12 April 2016, and this ruling relates to the cancellation of TM 83846 and TM 98697 for Co-Op and Super Co-op which were registered in June and November 1996 respectively, both in class 35.
In the cancellation request, Co-op Israel alleged that the marks were not in use and had not been since 2003. Furthermore, there were no extraordinary circumstances justifying the non-use. Therefore the marks should be cancelled. However, Coop Israel did not provide any evidence supporting its allegations.Section 41a of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states:
“...Any interested person may request that a trademark be cancelled on the grounds of lack of bona fide use and lack of bona fide intent to use the mark over the previous three years.”
It is a matter of case-law that trademarks are property rights in all respects, and these may not be simply nibbled away. There is a burden of proof that the mark owner did not use the mark that rests on the shoulders of the party requesting that mark’s cancellation. See Bagatz Orlogad Ltd vs. Commissioner of Patents, p.d. 39 (2) 148.
The burden of proof shuffles back and forth: the party requesting cancellation of the mark has to bring initial evidence of non-use of the registered mark. If it is accepted as sufficient to make a case, the burden of proof shifts to the mark holder to refute the challenger’s evidence and to show that the mark is in use.Failure to show lack of use works in the interest of the mark owner. See Bagatz 296/89 Moorgate Tobacco Co. Ltd. vs. Philip Morris Inc. p.d. 41 (1) 485 page 493.
With respect to the order of the proceedings in a challenge to a trademark registration on grounds of lack of use, regulation 70 of the 1940 Trademark regulations states:
A request to correct the Register or to delete a trademark from the register should detail in duplicate, the applicant, the facts on which the request for cancellation are based and the desired correction. A copy of the request should be sent to the mark owner.
There is no indication that the request for cancellation was sent to the marks owner who is not represented in this instance.
According to regulation 71 one should act as follows:
With the filing of the request and sending a copy to the registered owner, the commissioner should inform the Applicant and the Applicant should submit his evidence within two months of the notification.
In light of that said previously, and in view of the absence of a statement of case by the mark owners, I give the requester of cancellation two months to submit their evidence.. similarly, and in the same time-frame, they are to provide proof of delivery of the application to the marks owner.
The Court secretariat will ensure that this decision is delivered to the non-represented marks owner.
Interim ruling re cancellation of TM 83846 and TM 98697 for Co-Op and Super Co-op, Ms Shoshani-Caspi, 26 July 2016.
This reminds me
of the Red King in Alice Through the Looking Glass noting how good Alice’s eyesight was for being able to see nobody on the road at a distance where he would have trouble seeing anybody. In other words, it is difficult to show that something is not happening. How can prove that a mark is not in use???