Coffee Whitener Trademarks in the Gaza Strip

November 6, 2017

city creamerClients sometimes ask about whether or not it is worth registering trademarks in the Gaza Strip. Recently, we’ve been handling the destruction of fake plumbing goods destined to Gaza, that were stopped at the Israel Port of Ashkelon. Delivering papers in Gaza is not easy. It can, however, be done.

Qumsieh is a Jordan firm of patent attorneys that handles IP registration across the Middle East. On 20 May 2014, Qumsieh submitted a Gaza Trademark Application for City Creamer, a coffee whitening milk substitute that comes in powder form, on behalf of their client, Bilal Mohammad AL Hamwi, in class 29. The application was assigned number 18963, then published in the Official Gazette number 54 on 28 May 2015.

coffee mateSociété des Produits Nestlé S.A. (“Nestlé”), the owner of trademark “Coffee Mate” filed an opposition against our AL Hamwi’s mark based on their earlier registrations for “Coffee Mate” based on the following grounds:
An alleged Similarity between “City Creamer” and “Coffee Mate” in terms of appearance and general look;
Coffee Mate is a well-known trademark worldwide;
Registration of the opposed mark will mislead the public about the origin of the products and will confuse the consumers between both products, and
Due to the above, allowing the registration of “City Creamer” contradicts local Trademark Law.

In their response, Qumsieh noted that “City Creamer” has no counterpart “mug design” mark to that of Nestlé’s mark, however Nestlé argued that this was irrelevant. Opponent dismissed as irrelevant. Qumsieh also argued that the figurative elements illustrated the differences in the imagery, which far outweighed the alleged similarities.

The Gaza Registrar ruled that the “City Creamer” mark could be registered. Apparently Nestlé appealed said decision before the Gaza Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision of the Registrar.

COMMENT

The colour schemes of the two marks are similar, but coffee is a product that is generally drank warm and the orange-red colour implies a warm cosy feel. The term creamer, like coffee, is generic. Showing a powder additive for coffee as a spoon for adding to coffee seems to me to be descriptive, and despite the similarities which are probably not coincidental, I think that the Gazan authorities made the right decision. It is worth comparing this ruling to the Israeli rulings concerning energy drinks and the Eden Turkish Coffee.


Become Ill? Been Injured? – ? חלית? נפצעת

October 17, 2017

This ruling concerns a Trademark Opposition filed by the Israel Bar Society against an Israel trademark application submitted by the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD, and follows a High Court Ruling on the legality of the services provided and a court ruling on alleged Contempt of Court. The ruling is of relevance to the IP community in light of unlicensed IP practitioners (cowboys) and this is discussed by me after reporting the ruling.

Livnat Poran.jpgThe Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD filed a trademark application for “Become Ill? Been Injured?” on 2 January 2012 in Class 36 for “consultation services relating to tax attributes; consultation services relating to rights bestowed by insurance policies; all included in class 36, and for consultation services relating to realization of rights for health deficiencies or injury; consultation services relating to realization of social security rights; all included in class 45”.

On 17 September 2014, and after the mark was refused by the Examiner, the applicant appealed and a discussion was held with the Deputy Commissioner who, after considering the claims and evidence, agreed to allow the mark to be published for opposition purposes on 1 December 2014.

Israel BarOn 19 March 2015, the Israel Bar Association filed an opposition, and on 24 April 2015, Zechuti-Experts Regarding Medical Rights LTD also filed an Opposition. In an earlier ruling, Ms Bracha ruled that the Oppositions could be combined. However, on 1 November 2015, Zechuti withdrew their opposition, and the Israel Bar continued alone.

District Court.jpgIn parallel to the Trademark Opposition, the parties also fought a battle in the Israel Courts with the Israel Bar Asssociation filing 9279/07 Israel Bar Association vs. the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD with the District Court (Jerusalem), claiming that the Center was invading the legal space by providing legal services. The District Court decision was appealed to the Supreme Court in 4223/12 the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD vs. the Israel Bar Association.

After the claims and counter claims were submitted, the Opposer submitted the District Court ruling, the Supreme Court Ruling, a further decision regarding wasting the court’s time, and a couple of Affidavits submitted by Adv. Feldman as part of the legal proceedings. The Applicant submitted an Affidavit of their CEO as evidence.

Opposer’s Claims

OppositionThe Israel Bar Association submitted that the applied-for mark lacks distinctiveness and thus contravenes Section 8(a) of the Trademark Ordinance 1972; was against the public order and thus non-registerable under section 11(5) and was misleading and encouraging unfair competition contrary to Section 11(6). They also claimed that it was descriptive of the services provided and thus non-registerable. After a hearing on the issue, the Opposition became more focused.

The Opposer acknowledged that since the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD had been using the mark extensively (in radio advertising campaigns) it was widely recognized and had acquired distinctiveness, but argued that since the High Court had ruled that the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD should cease to offer its services, two grounds for opposition remained.

  1. The Israel Bar Association considered that the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD was still providing legal advice and so allowing them to register the mark would be against the public order, and
  2. The Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD was no longer offering the services it had a reputation in, and so the marks had lost their distinctiveness and so could no longer be registered.

The Opposers also claimed that the public links the services provided to Ms Livnat Poran whose name appears in the advertisements, and not to the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD, so considers the mark as misleading.

The Applicants Claims

applicantThe Applicant refutes the Opposer’s allegations and affirms that the marks are distinctive, not misleading and not against the public order. They accuse the Israel Bar Association of fighting a campaign to prevent them from benefiting from their trademark and for misusing the Opposition proceeding. As to the two main claims, the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD considers that the alegations that the mark is no longer linked to Ms Foran, and that the Center for Realizing Medical Rights LTD is continuing to offer legal services, are both widening of the grounds for the Opposition. Read the rest of this entry »


Increase in Official Publication Fees in Syria

October 3, 2017

200px-Flag_of_Syria.svgOn 28 August 2017 the Syria Minister of Internal Trade issued Ministerial Decree No. 2133 announcing an increase in the official publication fees for new trademarks and renewal applications, as well as for publication for recordals of assignment, mergers and changes of name and address.

The decree will become effective on 15 October 2017 affecting applications pending publication, as follows:

Item Old Price New Price
Publication fees for accepted applications in the Official Gazette (for a list of goods of 10 words) SYP 35000
USD 70
SYP 100000
USD 200
Publication fees after registration in the Official Gazette (for a list of goods of 10 words) SYP 35000
USD 70
SYP 100000
USD 200
Publication fees for renewal applications before acceptance (for applications filed or renewed before April 2007) SYP 35000
USD 70
SYP 100000
USD 200
Publication fees for renewal applications after issuing the renewal certificate (for applications filed or renewed before April 2007) SYP 35000
USD 70
SYP 100000
USD 200
Publication fees for renewal applications after acceptance (for applications filed or renewed on or after April 2007) SYP 35000
USD 70
SYP 100000
USD 200
Fees for additional group of 10 words in the list of goods and services SYP 500
USD 1
SYP 1500
USD 3
Publication fees for the recordal of assignment SYP 25000
USD 50
SYP 50000
USD 100
Publication fees for the recordal of merger SYP 25000
USD 50
SYP 50000
USD 100
Publication fees for the recordal of change of name SYP 25000
USD 50
SYP 50000
USD 100
Publication fees for the recordal of change of address SYP 25000
USD 50
SYP 50000
USD 100

Renewals of trademarks filed or renewed before April 2007 will be published twice, the first time after acceptance and the second time after the issuance of the registration or renewal certificate. Trademarks filed or renewed after April 2007 will only receive one publication notice, after acceptance.


HALLEY vs. HALEY

September 29, 2017

HalleyJordan based patent attorneys Qumsieh report filed an application in the Palestinian Authority (referred to by Qumsieh as the State of Palestine) for a trademark for Halley on behalf of their Client, Yildez Holding Anonim Sirketi, a Turkish company, on 25 June 2015 in class 30. The mark received the trademark number 27208. The application was published in the Palestine Official Gazette on 15 December 2015 subject to the opposition period of 3 months.

A Saudi Arabian company, under the name of Abdullah Al Othaim Markets, filed an opposition against our client’s application on the basis of it:

  • Being a well-known company in terms of commercialising food products;
  • Being the owner of the registered trademarks “Haley” in Latin and Arabic characters in classes 21, 29, 30, 31, and 32;
  • Prior registration of “Haley” in the home country and abroad since 2003;
  • Claiming their mark “Haley” as a well-known trademark, and
  • Commercialising their products under the trademark “Haley” on their website, which is known to consumers worldwide.

Qumsieh countered that:

  • Their client is also a worldwide,  well-known, company established in 1989;
  • Their client is the owner of the registered trademark  “HALLEY” in Turkey and worldwide in classes 29 and 30 since 1993;
  • The trademark “HALLEY” is well-known worldwide, and customers now associates this brand with Yildez Holding Anonim Sirketi, and
  • The trademark is widely used worldwide and in Palestine [sic].

After reviewing the matter, the Palestine Trademark Registrar allowed HALLEY to register.

COMMENT

We note that the stylized mark Halley is registered in Israel for plumbing products, namely: faucets, shower installations, shower cabinets, shower cubicles, bathtubs, water closets, sinks, wash-hand basins, urinals, sanitary apparatus in the form of squatting pans, toilet seat lids, toilet cisterns; all included in class 11.

If the Palestine Territory mark is also for sanitary equipment, and Haley (not registered in Israel) sells food products, there is indeed little likelihood of confusion.


 Appeal Regarding Infanti Baby Seats Virtually identical to those of Fisher Price (Mattel)

September 19, 2017

fisher price swing seatBaby swing-seats that were made in China and are identical to Fisher Price swing seats, down to the image of a lion on the upholstery, were imported and sold in Israel under the brand Infanti. Fisher Price obtained an Anton Pillar injunction and seized 1830 seats from the Importers’ warehouse. However, the Nazareth District Court rejected all attempts to obtain compensation under copyright infringement of the lion design printed on the seat upholstery and in the instruction manual, trademark infringement for the Fisher Price logo shown in the illustrations of the instruction manual, the trade tort of Passing Off, and the catch-all Law Of Unjust Enrichment following A.Sh.I.R. The case was then referred to the High Court.

This ruling by a panel of Israel High Court judges considers whether copyright subsists for a product design or artwork printed on a product where no design was registered for the product and whether there are grounds for sanctions under the trade-law of Passing Off or under the Law of Unjust Enrichment. The legal advisor to the government filed an amicus brief clarifying the position of the government in such issues.

judge elyakim rubinstenThe main ruling was given by Vice President of the High Court, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein who first considered the basic relationship between design law and copyright. Then, he ruled whether part of something that could have been registered as a design is entitled to copyright protection, and if so, whether the lion character is copyright protected even if the swing chair could have been registered as a design. Are the respondents direct or indirect infringers of the Appellant’s copyright? Do they have the defense of being unaware? Does trademark infringement require intent? And finally is there Passing Off or Unjust Enrichment?

Essentially Judge Rubinstein and Fogelman found copyright infringement due to the lion character on the upholstery, and Judge Meltzer also found that there was passing off, due to the products being virtually identical. Judges Rubinstein and Fogelman rejected the claims of passing off since although Fisher Price clearly had a reputation, they did not necessarily have a reputation for the baby swing seat. Infanti’s copies, though virtually identical to those of Fisher Price, were packaged in different boxes and the boxes were clearly labelled Infanti. The product itself was also labeled with the Infanti brand.

The main ruling is given below, followed by additional comments by Judges Fogelman and Meltzer. Since this is an important ruling, I have translated it in full. At the end are some comments and criticisms.

Background

This is an appeal against ruling 39534-02-15 by Nazareth district Court judge, Ben Chamo which was given on 8 January 2015 and in which Fisher Price lost their claim regarding copyright infringement in a child’s swing seat.

The ruling addresses the relationship between copyright and registered design rights. Judge Rubinstein notes that in the modern consumer society, the design of consumer goods has an increasing importance, and that manufacturers invest heavily  Consequently, many goods are some combination of functionality and artistic expression which makes it difficult to classify such goods in a single IP category and raises difficult legal questions. This appeal relates to a list of such questions of which the relationship between design law and copyright is central.

The Appellant, Mattel Inc. is a US Company that owns Fisher Price which makes baby goods, etc. The Respondent, Dvaron Import-Export Co. Ltd, is a company that imports various baby products into Israel. They and their directors and share holders were sued.

infantiMattel / Fisher-Price learned through Sakal which imports their products into Israel, that the respondents have been distributing a baby swing seat manufactured in China and branded as Infanti, which is a copy of the Fisher-Price swing seat.  Read the rest of this entry »


Oppostion to Smartbike Trademark

September 17, 2017

268138El-Col Electronics (Nazareth Illit) Ltd submitted a trademark application for Israel Trademark No. 268138 in class 12.

The mark is a graphical image bearing the words Smart Bike as shown.

On 7 March 2017, an opposition was filed by Smartrike Marketing Ltd and Smart Trike MNF PTE LTd under section 24a of the Trademark Ordinance 1972, and Regulation 64a of the 1940 regulations.

On 30 April 2017, the Applicants requested an extension of time for submitting their Counter-Statement of Case in Response to the Oppositions. On 20 June 2017, the Applicant submitted their claims in accordance with Section 35 and requested that the Opposer deposit a bond for covering costs.

Section 38 of the Regulations provides the Opposer with a period that ended on 20 August 2017 to submit their evidence. In addition, the Opposer should have responded to the bond request within 20 days. However, until the time of writing this Decision, it appears that the Opposer chose not to submit evidence in an Opposition they themselves initiated. Nor did they respond to the request to deposit a bond.

Consequently, under Regulation 39, Smartrike is to be considered as having abandoned the Opposition:

If the Opposer does not submit evidence, he is considered as having abandoned the Opposition unless the Commissioner rules differently.

Since the Opposer did not submit  evidence and also failed to contact the court secretary, and since she saw no justification to rule differently, Adjudicator of IP, Ms Shoshani-Caspi ruled that the opposition be considered closed, and that Israel Trademark Application No. 268138 be immediately registered.

Based on the various considerations, she ruled that the Opposer should pay costs of 1000 Shekels + VAT within 14 days.

Opposition to Israel TM Application No. 268138, Ruling by Ms Shoshani Caspi, 28 August 2017


Apple and WhatsApp’s Apps for Apps

September 14, 2017

272109 apple watch appOn 9 February 2015, Apple Inc submitted Israel trademark application no. 272109 comprising an image consisting of a white silhouette of a telephone receiver (hand-set) against a green circular background as shown.

280669

Before Apple’s trademark application was examined, WhatsApp Inc. filed Israel trademark application number 280669 comprising an image consisting of a white silhouette of a telephone receiver (hand-set) against a green circular speech bubble shaped background as shown.

 

 

Apple’s application was for Read the rest of this entry »