Cancellation of Suprene Mark

July 6, 2017

LSUPRENEIsrael trademark no. 245038 is for the stylized word mark SUPRENE in class 17, for Synthetic rubber; styrenebutadiene rubber; butyl rubber; polyisoprene rubber; polychloroprene rubber; isobutylene-isoprene rubber; ethylene-propylene rubber; ethylene-propylene diene rubber; all included in class 17.The mark is owned by SK Global Chemical Co. ltd, a Korean company.

Dynasol Elastomeros submitted a request to have the SUPRENE mark cancelled.

The request for cancellation was submitted under Section 39a of the Trademark Ordinance 1972. The Statement of Claims and Counterclaims, and evidence were filed, but the parties decided to forgo the hearing, and requested that the adjudicator, Ms Shoshani Caspi, ruled on the basis of the materials on file.

SolpreneThe requester for cancellation, Dynasol Elastomeros, owns Israel trademark no. 242409 for SOLPRENE, registered on 6 May 2013.  SK Global Chemical Co. Ltd tried to oppose that mark, but left it too late by two days so the Opposition was ignored.

Dynasol Elastomeros’ Claims and Evidence

Dynasol Elastomeros claims to be a leading worldwide manufacturer of synthetic rubber that was founded in 1999. Due to their enormous investment made in marketing and promoting their trademarked goods, their competing mark has acquired a distinguishing character and is identified with the goods that are stamped with the mark. Thus the mark has become well-known and identified with Dynasol Elastomeros and their marks.

Dynasol claims that SK Global’s mark should be cancelled since it is confusingly similar in appearance, phonetically and conceptually with their earlier, registered mark.  Since the two marks are used with respect to similar goods and consumers, this could confuse the customers or result in them thinking that there is a commercial connection between the two groups of products.

In summary, Dynasol claims that the mark is unacceptable due to Section 8a as it lacks distinguishing nature; is unacceptable under Section 11(9) as it confusingly similar to Dynasol’s mark and under Section 11(6) as damaging to Dynasol’s reputation; under section 11(5) as selected in bad faith, and against the public order, and under sections 11(13) and 11(14) as being confusingly similar to a well-known mark. To support their allegations, Dynasol submitted an Affidavit by their legal counsel  Mr. Ramon Felipe Estrada Rivero .

SK Global Chemical’s Claims and Evidence

Supremes.pngSK Global Chemical is a Korean manufacturer of oils and petroleum which is the basis of the petrochemical industry, such as ethylene and propylene. They claim to be a leading manufacturer of rubber which is marketed under the SUPRENE mark.

SK Global Chemical has been using the SUPRENE mark since 1991 and it is used in 30 countries, including Israel. The mark is registered in these countries and a large marketing budget has been invested in promoting the mark. Consequently, the SUPRENE mark is identified with SK Global Chemical’s products. Consequently, the SUPRENE mark is well-known in Israel, whereas Dynasol’s SOLPRENE mark is not well known in Israel.

SK Global Chemical claims that there is no confusing similarity between their mark and that of the Applicant since the marks are visually and audibly different. They deny allegations of inequitable behavior in choosing their mark, and accuse Dynasol of choosing their mark in bad faith in an attempt to benefit from the Suprene reputation.

According to SK Global Chemical, since Dynasol are trying to cancel an issued mark, the burden of proof is on them to show that the registration was invalid. Their counter-claims were supported by an affidavit from their president, Mr. Hwa-Youp Cha.

RULING

Are these marks well-known?

Section 39a of the Ordinance states that requests to cancel a mark should be submitted within five years from registration:

 39.—(a) An application under section 38 for the removal of a trade mark from the Register on the ground that it is not eligible for registration under sections 7 to 11 of the Ordinance, or on the ground that the mark creates an unfair competition in respect of the applicant’s rights in Israel, must be made within five years of the issue of the certificate of registration under section 28.

Since the request for cancellation was timely filed, it is necessary to consider it, and so it is necessary to consider if the mark was indeed not fitting to be registered. Trademarks are property rights and cannot be cancelled in a cavalier manner. See for example, Amir Friedman “Trademarks – Legislation, Rulings and Comparative Law (2005) pages 667-670 and BAGATZ 144/85 Klil Non-Ferrous Metal Ltd. Vs Commissioner of Patents, Designs and Trademarks p.d. 42(1) 309-318 (1998):

The burden of proof to show that a mark is registerable is on the Applicant, but in a cancellation proceedings, the burden of proof that a mark is not registerable is on the challenger. The registration of a mark is a prima facie indication that it is registerable and so the burden of proof is on the Challenger to rebut this indication. In all cases where the burden of proof is on one party or another, it switches back and forth in light of the evidence submitted…so a doubt with regarding to validity or otherwise acts in favour of the mark owner.

A mark that is “well-known” under the Law is a mark that is well-known in Israel in relevant circles, and fame abroad is insufficient. See Appeal 9191/03 V&S Vin Spirt Aktiebolag vs. Absolut Shoes Ltd., 19 July 2004. When deciding whether or not a mark is well-known, the following are considered: how well-known the mark is to the relevant population, the scope and longevity of the usage, the investment in promoting the mark over time, the degree that the mark is different from other marks, the degree to which the owners had sole usage of the mark, the investment by owners in registering and enforcing the mark, etc. – Amir Friedman “Trademarks – Legislation, Rulings and Comparative Law (2005) , see also the Opposition to Israel trademark no. 93261 “Pentax” – Pentax SRL vs. Asahi Kogaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, 3 September 2003.

rubber duckBefore determining the reputation of a mark with the relevant population in Israel, it is necessary to identify the population. From the evidence submitted, the population is not the end-user purchasing off the shelf, but rather industrial entities. This can be learned, inter alia, from Section 9 of the Applicant’s affidavit and from pages 16-26 of the appendix thereof, which details the usage of their rubber, and appendix 3 of the Applicant’s affidavit and their catalogue of products. All these teach that neither the Applicant for cancellation nor the responder are targeting their goods to the end-user, but rather to companies making rubber goods that purchase the raw material from them. It would appear that the end user that purchases rubber gloves, dummies (pacifiers), rubber bands and the like, are interested in the manufacturer of the product and not in the supplier of the raw material.

From the evidence submitted, the Adjudicator is not convinced that either mark is “well-known” in the sense of the Law. In this regard, it will be noted that the parties themselves decided not to hold an oral hearing with cross-examination. However, each party attacked the other’s marks, so the court can only look at the evidence submitted and decide whether a case has been made to support the allegations and to attach evidentiary weight to the evidence.

Mr. Rivero, Dynasol’s legal counsel , testified that the company had spent a fortune in branding and promoting their mark around the world, but no numbers or supporting evidence were given to substantiate this claim. A similar conclusion was reached regarding the claim that the trademarked products had enjoyed tremendous success with the consumers, and that the mark was in use in Israel since 2003 and the products were successful. So the challenger has not reached the burden of evidence for its marks to be considered well-known to the Israeli public.

Similarly, Mr. Hwa-Youp Cha’s affidavit is insufficient to persuade that by SK Global Chemical Co. ltd’s mark is respected and well-known by the Israeli consumer. His affidavit was also unsupported by evidence and the adjudicator was not provided with any evidence of investment in promoting and marketing goods under the mark, or of the amount of sales in Israel.

In light of these conclusions, relating to cancellation under sections 11(13 and 11(14) based on the mark being well-known, is moot. Similarly, the challenger’s claim that leaving the registration in place will create unfair competition with their well known mark, contrary to section 11(6) of the Ordinance is also moot.

Is there a likelihood of confusion? The triple test

Section 11(9) states that an applied for mark must not be deceptive, as follows:

  1. The following marks are not capable of registration:

(9)   a mark identical with one belonging to a different proprietor which is already on the register in respect of the same goods or description of goods, or so nearly resembling such a mark as to be calculated to deceive;

Whether or not there is deception is determined using the so-called triple test that is found in the case-law, and is based in the sight and sound of the mark, the type of goods, the clients and marketing channels and other considerations, to which the common sense test has been added. See 261/64 Pro-Pro Biscuits (Kfar Saba) Ltd. vs. Fromein and Sons ltd. p.d. 18(3) 275 (1964), 5454/02 Taam Teva (1988) Tivoli vs. Ambosia Surprise p.d. 57(2) 438, 451-453 (2003) and Appeal 5792/99 Communication and religious Jewish Education Family (1997) Ltd. vs. SBS Publicity, Marketing and sales Promotion Ltd, p.d. 55(3) 933 (2001).

The adjudicator was prepared to accept that there was some similarity between the marks, but did not consider this similarity as deceptive. Comparison between marks has to be done between marks in their entirety. When considering allegations of deceptiveness, one should note that the consumer’s memory is imperfect. See A. H. Seligsohn Trademarks and Related Legislation (1973) p. 81 and 6658/09 Multilock vs. Rav Bareach Industries Ltd. 12 January 2010.

The Sight and Sound strand is the dominant element of the test (see Taam Teva ruling). When the marks are compared visually, it is clear that there are differences between them. In the challenged mark, the S is stylized. The first syllable is different. The challenger’s mark starts with the syllable SOL, whereas the challenged mark starts SU which is pronounced differently. The Adjudicator considers that this results in a different visual appearance as well.

The Adjudicator accepts the mark holder’s assertion that PRENE and ERENE are common suffixes in class 17 and these suffixes are established in science, particularly in chemistry, polymer sciences and rubbers. In their summation, the respondent gave many examples of trademarks that included such suffixes, particularly for rubbers, thermoplastics, plastic, polymer mixtures and the like, many of which ended with PRENE or ERENE and were registerable. The Adjudicator also accepted that the trademark register was in the public domain and reference to it did not require an affidavit (see Appeal 941/05 The Cooperative Association of Vinters of Rishon L’Zion and Zichron Yaakov Wineries Ltd. 17 October 2006). Consequently, the suffixes of challenger and respondent should be given little importance.

Although foreign case-law does not bind the Court of the Israel Patent and Trademark Office, the Adjudicator considers it worthwhile to refer to the Spanish Patent Office ruling concerning the stylized SUPRENE mark in a parallel case between the parties, regarding which it will be noted that Challenger did not appeal that ruling:

“There is sufficient word dissimilarity between them, since the only coincident term in the wording is common in almost all trademarks that cover this kind of products, in consequence it is considered that there is no reasonable risk of association between the trademark applied for and the one previously registered.”   

The Peruvian Patent Office came to a similar conclusion as well.

As to the type of goods, the parties agree that there is a large overlap in that both make rubber products of various types, however in both cases, it is the manufacturers and not the end users that are the customers and thus target group.

tiggerSince the customers are industrial companies, before purchasing large quantities of stock one can assume that they would consider the technical specification, resistance to degradation and other properties including price. These industrial customers have technical knowledge and do not purchase rubber materials without consideration, and one assumes that they would look at the stamped on supplier’s brand names and differentiate between the two competing parties. The Applicant for cancellation noted that products are typically purchased by the tonne and customers visit the factory before making a purchase, and it is only after negotiation that the seller and buyer sign a contract that specifies the supplier and the goods purchased.  In view of the nature of the customers, the likelihood of misleading is negligible.

Other Considerations

From the evidence before her, which was not subjected to cross-examination at the request of the parties, it appears that the parties are both manufacturers of raw rubber materials. The Adjudicator was not impressed that one party has a reputation that the other was attempting to ride on.

The Challenger did not bother to submit evidence of actual misleading. No affidavits of clients that were confused were submitted. The onus is on the challenger to show that misleading occurs, and with activities in 70 countries, if there was confusion, it shouldn’t have been difficult to show it. This does not mean that actual confusion is required to cancel a mark, but were such evidence to be available, one assumes that the challenger would present it.

There seems to be no basis to conclude that there is a likelihood of confusion amongst the Israeli customers. The Adjudicator considers it impossible that one or other manufacturer would inadvertently purchase the products of the wrong supplier.

Similarly the challenger’s claim that the registered mark lacks acquired distinctiveness is rejected, as is the claim that the mark was registered in bad faith to trade on the challenger’s reputation. Where there are specific clauses 11(6) to 11(9) one cannot use 11(5) (public order) as a catch-all to prevent confusion.

In conclusion, the cancellation proceeding against Israel Trademark 2458038 is rejected. The challenger Dynasol Elastomeros is ordered to pay 9000 Shekels costs.

Ruling by Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi regarding Dynasol Elastomeros attempt to cancel Israel Trademark 2458038 to SK Global Chemical Co., 28 May 2017

 


Smash

May 7, 2017

smash3Talber Pop LTD owns Israel trademark number 240598 “SMASH” for Notebooks, stationery, diaries, binders; gift wrapping paper, paper gift wrapping bows, paper cake decorations, paper party bags, loot bags, cello bags, paper party decorations, paper party hats, paper tables cloths, paper napkins, banner made of paper and/or cardboards; all included in class 16, and Backpacks, sidepacks, back bags, side bags, sport bags, tote bags, book bags, school bags, food bags, pencil cases sold empty, wallets, waist packs, briefcases, bike bags, toiletry cases sold empty, fanny packs, suitcases, umbrellas, umbrella covers; all included in class 18. They also own a second Israel trademark number 241238 for SMASH in class 14 covering watches, chronometers and their parts.

On 30 December 2017, Smash Enterprises Pty LTD submitted a request to cancel the marks or to allow their marks to be co-registered. On 2 March 2016, Talber Pop responded with their Counter-Statement of Case.

The request for cancellation followed an attempt by Smash Enterprises Pty LTD to register their Israel Trademark Application 274301. After various extensions were authorized, on 26 January 2017 the parties submitted a joint request for coexistence based on a civil court ruling under which they undertook to differentiate their services and goods.

Smash Enterprises Pty LTD’s mark was in class 21 and covered containers for household or kitchen use; household or kitchen utensils; containers for beverages; containers for food; heat insulated containers for beverages; heat retaining containers for food and drink; insulated containers; lunch boxes; isothermic bags; bottles including water bottles (containers); beverage coolers (containers); drinking containers; portable coolers; ice containers; ice packs; plastic containers (household utensils); lids for household or kitchen containers; tableware, including plates, dishes, drinking glasses, bowls, cups, saucers, mugs and jugs, all being of plastic materials; cooking utensils for use with domestic barbecues; storage boxes, baskets and containers for household use; household rubbish containers (bins); glassware for domestic use; ceramic tableware; baking trays; storage jars; cooler bags; thermally insulated bags for food and drink.

Essentially, the two parties are interested in co-registration of Israel TM 274301 to Smash Enterprises together with those registered by Talber Pop LTD. (Smash Enterprises did have a second application in class 18, but seem to have abandoned that, as to allow the same mark for similar goods in the same class is particularly difficult).

The Commissioner can allow co-registration under Section 30a for identical or similar marks for identical or similar goods if the application to do is filed in good faith or if there are extenuating circumstances that allows coexistence.

The wording of Section 30(a) is as follows:

Where it appears to the Registrar that there is honest concurrent use, or where there are other special circumstances which in his opinion justify the registration of identical or similar trade marks for the same goods or description of goods by more than one proprietor, the Registrar may permit such registration subject to such conditions and limitations, if any as he may think fit. (b) A decision of the Registrar under subsection (a) shall be subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal shall be filled within thirty days from the date of the decision of the Registrar. In the appeal, the Court shall have all the powers conferred upon the Registrar under subsection (a). 

The Applicant for coexistence has to prove that he is acting in good faith. Furthermore, he has to establish that despite the marks being identical or apparently similar to those registered, there is no practical risk that the consumer will confuse between the marks. In this regard, in the 87779/04 Yotvata vs. Tnuva ruling it is stated that:

In rulings [based on Section 30a of the Ordinance] the emphasis will be on the equitable behavior of the parties adopting the mark and on the need to protect the public from similar marks that might create misleading or unfair competition (Friedman p. 431).

See also 48827-03-14 Biosensors Europe SA vs. Commissioner of Patents from 22 February 2015:

The burden of proof that there is no likelihood of confusion falls on the two companies interested in the co-registration, and they have to prove that for many years they used the marks in Israel without the public being confused.

In this regard, the main thread running through the Ordinance is that identical or confusingly similar marks should not be registered if they will mislead the public. Thus in  10959/05 Delta Lingerie S.A.O.F vs Cachan Tea Board, India :7.12.06 :

Confusion and the risk of misleading is the living breath of the Ordinance. This is the main danger that we have to deal with. The various options of Section 11 that list marks that may not be registered reflect different types of confusion, and way to prevent them.

Where marks are more confusingly similar, the level of evidence that is required to show that there is no danger in their both being registered by Commissioner discretion under Section 30a is higher. See for example, the ruling concerning Israel TMs 24886 and 233056 Orbinka Investments LTD vs Now Securites Ohr Yehuda 1989 ltd., 24 July 2015 and 252115, 244719 Gaudi Trade SPA vs. Guess, Inc., 27 July 2016.

Alternatively, the Commissioner has to consider whether there are other special considerations that allow identical or similar marks for identical or similar goods.

In this instance the parties have reached a coexistence agreement following arbitration before Adv. Gai-Ron, and the Arbitrator of IP prefers constructive discussion and compromise rather than judicial ruling that are all or nothing. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the parties are interested in co-existing is insufficient to allow it where the is a likelihood of confusion. The Commissioner has the sole authority and responsibility to ensure that the Israel public are not confused by such marks, and such agreements are no more than an indication that must be weighed up with other considerations before allowing co-existence. See 1611/07 Micha Danziger vs. Shmuel Mor, 23 August 2012: 

The desire of the parties that grow and market Gypsophila is one thing. The registration of confusingly similar marks is something else. Furthermore, and this is the important point – we are not relating to the parties’ consent, but to the balances in the law. The prohibition to register the requested mark is based on the need to protect consumers that were not party to the agreement between appellant and defender, (although such agreements may be indicative as part of a general analysis).

Thus it cannot be disputed that the Commissioner is not obliged to follow agreements between the parties. Nevertheless, in appropriate circumstances and where such agreements are valid, the Commissioner may allow co-existence based on such agreements – see 10105-05-16 Campalock ltd vs Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs 4/12/16.

In this instance, the parties submitted a two paragraph laconic request for co-existence stating that they had reached an agreement. However it is not enough to negotiate an agreement that serves the interests of the parties. A request to allow two pending applications to coexist or for a new application to be registered alongside an existing one must be justified by a detailed explanation showing why the public will not be confused.

There is no way to relate to whether the sides behaved equitably since the case should be closed before a hearing is conducted. The parties did not even address this issue in their request. The  marks are identical for the word SMASH and there is certainly a similarity between schoolbags in class 18 and food bags and drink containers in Class 21 since these goods could be sold in the same retail outlets and there is therefore a room for confusion between goods in classes 18 and 21.

The Examiner reached a similar conclusion when she objected to the 2743011 mark under Section 11(9), and mere consent of the owner of a mark cited against a pending mark is insufficient to overcome a Section 11(9) objection.

The agreement does list the steps that the parties have undertaken to take, but this is insufficient. Firstly, the mark owner of the registered marks undertakes not to use a logo similar to that of the Applicant for cancellation, but the logo is not appended. An agreement not to use the same graphic is too narrow since the degree of similarity that is allowed is not related to. The registration would cause the register to be different from that happening in business.

Under the agreement, the side requesting cancellation would have the sole right to use the mark for boxes and containers for storing food and drink and the mark owner would be prohibited from so-doing. However, the mark owner’s registration 240598 (group 18) includes “food bags”. Food bags are essentially food storage bags. There is thus an overlap which creates confusion.

Thus the Arbitrator Ms Shoshani Caspi finds herself considering two identical marks for the word SMASH for two different entities that cover inter alia the same goods which creates a strong risk of confusion.

Consequently, as part of their joint submission. the parties should have provided a detailed explanation why TM 274301 in class 21 should be registerable together with TM 240598 in class 18. This wasn’t done, and the parties have provided no explanation as to how to avoid confusion. The request for coexistence is refused. The parties have until 1 June 2017 to inform whether they wish to conduct a cancellation proceeding.

Smash ruling, Ms Shoshani Caspi, 26 April 2017.

Comment

The ruling is solid and both parties were represented. The parties are interested in compromising. The Patent and Trademark Office have to consider the public interest and to prevent confusion, but nevertheless one wonders why the arbitrator did not simply request that the parties relate to a list of issues that their agreement does not address, rather than to refuse the request.

 


Panama Jack

April 23, 2017

Panama JackPanama Jack Inc. submitted a cancellation request against registered Israel TM No. 79826 for a Panama Jack pendant which was registered back in 1994 in group 25 by Grupp Internacional SA.

Section 41(a) of the 1972 Tradeamrk Ordinance states that:

Any interested party may request cancellation of a trademark on the grounds that there was never a good faith intention of using the mark and that the mark was not used in good faith within the three year period prior to the cancellation request being submitted.

Registered trademarks are considered property rights in all respects and should not be undermined without due consideration. The requester for cancellation was to show that the mark was not in use. See 476/82 Orloged.vs. Commissioner of Patents p.d. 39 (2) 148. The burden of evidence then bounces back and forth between the parties, and if the challenger provides prima facie evidence that shows that a mark should not be cancelled, the burden of proof then falls on the mark owner to dispute the evidence brought by the challenger and to supply evidence that there was, in fact, use of the mark. Where there remains a doubt, this works for the benefit of the mark owner, and the mark will not be cancelled. BAGATZ 296/89 Philip Morris vs. Moorgate Tobacco Co Ltd. p.d. 41 (1) 485.

Regulation 70 of the 1940 Trademark Regulations state that:

A request to correct a registration or to cancel a registered mark from the register will detail the facts and the requested correction and will be submitted in two copies; one to the Registrar and the other to the owner of the mark.

In this instance no one denies that the mark owner received a copy of the cancellation request.

Section 71 of the regulations state the case should continue as follows:

With submission of a cancellation request with copy to the registered owner, the matter proceeds in accordance with regulations 37 to 46 (opposition regulations) with the appropriate changes.

The mark owner has two months, i.e. until 30 January 2017 to respond. In this instance, he failed to do so and also failed to request an extension of time. In so doing, Section 71(a)a applies:

If the owner of a mark does not submit a response under Sefction 70 within two months, the Commissioner will give the supplicant two months to state their case.

In this instance, as the mark owner has failed to respond, the Supplicant for cancellation has two months to submit their evidence.

Re 79826 Grupp Internacional vs. Panama Jack, Intermediate Ruling Shoshana Yaara Caspi, 13 March 2017


Trademark Cancellations – Jumping on the band wagon

April 23, 2017

the herbsMichael Noy-Meir owns Israel TM No. 106994 for “Supherbs”. He is represented by Chani Rosenberg and Associates.

Ambrosia Supherb LTD filed a cancellation request and Peretz Gan, represented by Chani Roenberg and Associates wishes to join the case as a third-party. Peretz Gan claims to be a partner with Noy-Meir the mark owner for 20 years and that both of them used the mark over a twelve-year period.

The Cancellation request was submitted on 3 November 2016 and on 27 November 2016, Peretz Gan requested that the mark be assigned to him, based on an agreement from 19 September 2016.

On 4 January 2017, Deputy Commissioner Jacqueline Bracha ruled that if the mark survives the cancellation process, it may be assigned, but cannot be assigned whilst under attack.

Ambrosia Supherb LTD object to Peretz Gan being added as a third-party. They claim that there is insufficient evidence that he was rights in the mark as required by Regulation 72 of the 1940 trademark regulations. The Supplicant for Cancellation has also requested that following submission of an Affidavit, a date for a hearing be set.

Regulation 72 states:

Any person other than the registered proprietor who claims to have a benefit in a registered trade mark in respect of which an application has been filed under regulation 70 may apply to the Registrar for permission to allow him to join the proceeding and the Registrar may refuse or grant such permission after hearing the parties concerned and to set the conditions that he shall deem necessary. Before the application is heard in any manner whatsoever, the Registrar may demand that the applicant make an undertaking to pay the same expenses that the Registrar shall award to one of the parties in the circumstances.

The Deputy Commissioner does not see justification to reject the request. Section 72 sets a low bar for adding third parties to cancellation or opposition proceedings. It is adequate for a third-party to declare some interest to be cojoined to the proceeding. The Deputy Commissioner does not consider that the third party has to prove standing and refers to the Patent Office Ruling concerning 216,916 Danny Argon vs. Strauss Culture Factories LTD (11 November 2012):

Where the Third party claims apparent rights to a mark and excluding him from the proceeding would have negative consequences, it seems appropriate to include him in the proceedings as it seems improper to prevent him for stating his case.

A hearing is set for 20 April 2017 at 2 PM and the third-party may submit his supporting affidavit by 6 April 2017.


Cancellation Proceedings Against an Israel Patent for a Modular Support Bracket

April 6, 2017

Figs for ACMoshe Lavi registered Israel Patent No. 157035 titled “MODULAR SUPPORT BRACKET”. A competitor, Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD and Zach Raz filed to have the patent cancelled on grounds of invalidity. They seem to have botched the attempt, but I think that this ruling is a poor one.

Background

In the past, Lavi has tried enforcing the patent against Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD. (Back then, around 2004, I was engaged as an expert witness by Counsel of the Defence, Soroker Agmon. In my Expert Opinion, I argued what is known as ‘the Gilette Defense’ stating that the correct interpretation of the claims was much narrower than that which Lavi and his lawyers Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Bratz (Pearl-Cohen) was using and Zach Oz’ support bracket was not infringing. Furthermore, if one considered that Zach Oz’ brackets were within the ambit of the claims, the patent would not have issued in the light of the myriad of prior art shelf support brackets.  On the day of the trial, Lavi dropped the charges and Zach Oz agreed not to infringe the patent.

It was not the first time that Pearl-Cohen have tried to assert a patent against a competitor that was not infringing. They tried this in the US on behalf of Source Vagabond against Hydropak. In that instance, the New York District Court fined Pearl-Cohen and the lawyers actively handling the case $187,308.65. That ruling was then Appealed to and upheld by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals).

Frustrated by repeated bullying by Moshe Lavi and Pearl-Cohen, Zach Oz filed a cancellation proceeding against the Israel patent. Confusingly, their Attorney is called Pearl. It is not Zeev Pearl, but another practitioner.

Pearl-Cohen submitted a rather ambitious attempt to have the case thrown out as Zach Oz had not argued invalidity when accused of infringing, and Pearl-Cohen argued that this was a sort of in absentia estoppel since they could have raised the argument back then, and didn’t. The Commissioner threw that argument out, and allowed the cancellation proceeding to proceed.

The cancellation proceeding has now run its course and the following article Read the rest of this entry »


A Storm in a Coffee Cup

March 20, 2017

This ruling relates to competing rights of different relatives to register and use trademarks for a family business that eventually split up. The marks were registered by a cousin living in Ramallah, and cousins living in East Jerusalem applied to have the marks cancelled on various grounds including passing off, misleading marks, inequitable behavior and lack of use.

234876 LOGOChain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company own two trademarks: Israel Trademark No. 234876 for the logo shown alongside, and 234877 for the Arabic and English word mark
بن ازحيمان IZHIMAN’S COFFEE.

Maazen and Shapik Izhimian applied to have the marks canceled under Section 39 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972, and further under Section 41 for lack of use.

The marks were first applied for by Muhammad Musa H’alad Izhiman in January 2011, and after examination, were registered on 2 May 2012 for “coffee and coffee spices in class 30.” On 27 February 2014, the marks was assigned to Chain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company, a Palestinian Company based in Ramallah that was owned by Muhammad Musa H’alad Izhiman and his two sons Kassam and Nasser.

On 5 March 2014, the brothers Maazen and Shapik Izhimian who own a Jerusalem based business in Bet HaBad Street, for marketing and trading in coffee and spices under the name “Izhiman’s Coffee” and who are cousins of Muhammad, submitted a cancellation request. In July 2014, the owners Chain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company submitted their response.

The Background

EnjoyMuhammad, his three brothers and the Applicants for cancellation are all members of the same clan, that were involved in the family business established by Musa, Muhammad’s father, together with Mahmud, the father of Maazen and Shapik in the 1980s. The company had three addresses, the Ramallah address, the Jerusalem address now run by Maazen and Shapik, and a third branch in Abu Dis.

In 1994, Muhammad fell out with his brothers and nephews and received sole ownership of the Ramallah store. His three brothers and the nephews shared the Abu Dis and the Bet HaBad Jerusalem shops and opened a further outlet themselves in Ramallah. In 2000 the applicants for cancellation and Muhammad’s three brothers opened a fourth branch in Salah Shabati Salahadin Street in East Jerusalem. In 2008, these partners ceased to cooperate, and Maazen and Shapik were left with the Jerusalem Store in Bet HaBad Street.

love.jpgMaazen and Shapik submitted an affidavit written by Maazen and a second one from Riyadh Ghazi Halaq, the owner of a coffee shop near the Bet HaBad address that buys his raw coffee from them. The mark owners responded with an Affidavit by Nasser Muhammad Musa Izhiman, Partner and authorized signatory. At the end of September 2016, the Adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi held a hearing and the witnesses were cross-examined.
Read the rest of this entry »


Requesting Enlargement of A Deposit of Costs

January 8, 2017

The Krasnyi Octybar and Rot Front Joint Stock Companies own four Israel trademarks: 184179, 182758, 182759 and 182763. Each covering a long list of goods in class 30, including such things as for waffles; confectionery for decorating Christmas trees; cakes; pastries; peanut confectionery; almond confectionery; pasty; cocoa; cocoa products; caramels [candy]; sweetmeats [candy]; liquorice [confectionery]; peppermint sweets; coffee; crackers; meat pies; farinaceous foods; candy for food; fruit jellies; marzipan; custard; honey; ice cream; sherbets [ices]; muesli; mint for confectionery; cocoa beverages with milk and coffee beverages with milk; coffee-based beverages, tea-based beverage, chocolate beverages with milk, chocolate-based beverages, cocoa-based beverages; lozenges; petits fours [cakes]; biscuits; pies; fondants; pralines; gingerbread; chewing gum, not for medical purposes; sugar; cake paste; confectionery; rusks; sandwiches; almond paste; tarts; cakes (Edible decorations for-); halvah; bread; tea.

Five companies including the Roshen Confectionery Corporation,  Dealer B&D International Ltd, Kjarkov Biscuit Factory, Dolina Group Ltd and Latfood Ltd have filed cancellation requests against these marks.

The marks owners have requested that the sum that the challengers are required to post as a guarantee against legal costs in the event that the mark owners prevail be increased by a further 130,000 Shekels, or by whatever sum the commissioner sees fit. The request was submitted together with 90 pages of appendices and a copy of an Affidavit from the legal counsel of the mother company, however the original Affidavit was not submitted. The challengers opposed the request to increase the guarantee. A hearing has been set for the 17th and 18th of January for cross-examining the various witnesses.

The background to the request for guarantees is two requests for cancellation of the marks. Roshen Confectionery Corporation and  Dealer B&D International Ltd have requested the cancellation of 184179, 182758 and 182759 trademarks, and the Kjarkov Biscuit Factory, Dolina Group Ltd and Latfood Ltd have requested cancellation of the 182763 mark.

Following requests for guarantees that were filed in March 2015, the Adjudicator of IP Ms Yaara Shshani Caspi ruled on 21 June 2015 as follows:

In light of the above, and considering all the circumstances of this case and the general considerations used to determine the magnitude of the appropriate deposit, the first two challengers are to jointly deposit 75,000 Shekels and the second group of three challengers are also to jointly deposit 75,000 Shekels, and this should be done within 21 days.

The present request includes suspension of the proceedings until the deposit is increased.

The Parties’ Allegations

The mark holder claims that increasing the deposit is required because following the original decision there have been changes in circumstances that warrant increasing the deposit. These new circumstances include the expectation of long and complex proceedings and a number of cross-examinations. Furthermore, the case is complex and it transpires that the costs are expected to be higher than originally anticipated. The additional costs are incurred by the two groups of challengers retaining separate counsel and making unnecessary requests. A further claim is that it was not previous clear but now is transparently so, that there will be a massive amount of evidence and documents and a hearing that will be conducted largely in Russian, requiring simultaneous translation. The mark owners nevertheless reiterate their opinion that the likelihood of challengers prevailing and the marks being cancelled are very slim. The amount of the deposit, standing at 150,000 Shekels, is too low and not proportional to the costs that will be requested if the cancellation attempts fail and so this is a classic example of where increasing the deposit is warranted.

Both group of challengers consider the request to increase the deposit should be refused since the ‘new circumstances’ were already fairly obvious when the original request for costs was made. The second group of challengers considers this to be a vacuous request filed in bad faith simply to stretch out the proceedings.

Ruling

Ms Yaara shoshani Caspi did not consider that the circumstances had changed since the original request for a deposit was ruled on. For example, where there are five parties challenging two groups of marks it is not unpredictable that there will be lots of witnesses to cross-examine. Since the challengers are Russian companies, it was always expected that their witnesses would testify in Russian and simultaneous translation would be needed, as is the fact that there are two groups of challengers. The massive amount of evidence was also expected and Ms Shoshani Caspi considered that these grounds were all considered by her in her original ruling regarding the size of an appropriate deposit.

With regard to the likelihood of the challenges prevailing and the marks being cancelled, there is no way to consider the likelihood or otherwise of the challenges be successful at this stage since the witnesses have not been heard and have not yet been cross-examined. At least this is the theoretical state of affairs. Since the challenges are on the basis of inequitable behaviour in the original filings, there is a high level of proof that the challengers will be required to submit to establish their case since they will have to positively show that many years ago the mark holders intentionally appropriated marks that were not theirs.

Nevertheless, the fact that the challengers have a difficult task ahead is not justification to increase the deposit that they have already placed. There are no unexpected circumstances not considered in the original ruling considering the size of the deposit.

The request to increase the deposit is refused. However, Ms Shoshani Caspi does not see the request as indicative of inequitable behaviour designed to make the trademark cancellation proceedings unnecessarily complicated. that said, the mark owners should nevertheless pay costs to the challengers for requiring them to respond to this request. The mark owners will therefore may 1500 Shekels to the first group of challengers and a further 750 Shekels to the second group and will do so by 15 January 2016 or interest will incur.

In cancellation proceedings concerning 184179, 182758, 182759 and 182763 trademarks, Ruling on increasing size of deposit by Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi, 28 December 2016.