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.


UNILAK

January 6, 2017

Israel Trademark Number 121683 to Industrias Titan, S.A. is for the word UNILAK covering paints, colours, varnishes, lacquers, enamels; all included in class 2. It was registered back in 1999.

On 16 October 2015, Israel paint company Nirlet LTD filed a request to have the mark canceled due to lack of use. A notice of the cancellation request was sent to Industrias Titan, S.A., but they ignored it, and did not respond in any way.

Nirlet claims that Industrias Titan has not used the mark in Israel over the past three years and there are no extraordinary reasons justifying this lack of use.

Section 41 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states that:

“…any interested in so doing can file a trademark cancellation request on the basis of there never being an intention for bona-fide use or that the there was no bonafide use during the three years prior to submission o

 

Trademarks are property rights that are not trivially

f the cancellation request.”disposed of, and the burden of proof lies with the requester for cancellation -see Bagatz 476/82 Orlogad vs. Commissioner of Patents, p.d. 39 (2) 148. This burden of proof switches from one party to another throughout the cancellation proceeding, but there remains a requirement for the requester of cancellation to bring supporting evidence of the alleged lack of use. Only if this burden of proof is met, does the onus transfer to the mark owner to overcome the evidence provided by the challenger and to show that the mark is indeed in use. Cases that are not clear-cut work in favour of the mark owner – see Bagatz 296/89 Moorgate tobacco Co. vs Philip Morris Inc, p.d. 41 (1) 485 on page 493.

Regulation 70 of the 1940 trademark regulations provides the procedural requirements:

A request to correct the register or to cancel a mark from the register will detail the interest of the requester, the facts and the requested change in two copies: one for the Commissioner and one for the registered owner.

The adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi, ruling on the case, was convinced that the mark owner was served the papers. Consequently, regulation 71 comes into effect:

With such a request, and a copy sent to the mark owner, the procedural arrangements of regulations 37 to 46 come into effect (with the necessary changes as appropriate):

The mark owner should have submitted a counter statement of case by 16 December 2016, but failed to do so. Consequently, regulation 71a comes into effect:

If the mark owner does not submit a response within two months, the patent office will give the challenger two months to file his evidence.

Thus in absence of a Counter Statement of Case from  Industria Titan, the challenger is given two months to file their evidence and to send a copy to the Industria Titan.

Interim Ruling re Cancellation of Israel Trademark 121683, Ms Shoshani-Caspi, 25 December 2016.

 


ECJ rules that the shape of a Rubik Cube is not a valid trademark

November 11, 2016

cube

Everyone agrees that three dimensionsal trademarks are possible. A classic example might be Rolls Royce’s mascot.  Where a mark has functionality, it becomes more difficult. Unique packaging, such as the shape of a truly unique bottle, is trademarkable.

Rubik’s Cube, which was invented in 1974 by Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik, has enduring popularity and has sold more than 400 million cubes worldwide. Seven Towns registered the Rubik’s Cube as a three-dimensional EU trademark with the EUIPO in 1999. Simba Toys challenged the registration, but in 2014 the European Union General Court decided the three-dimensional trademark was valid, and ordered Simba to pay costs.

The European Court of Justice has now ruled the registration invalid.

And what about Israel? Been there… Done that.


KANEX – Cancelling a Trademark and Posting a Bond to Cover Costs

October 31, 2016

KANEX is a trademark owned by Chen Writing Instruments Ltd. It covers “Staplers, paper-punches, staple-pins, lever arc mechanism and all other office requisites (other than furniture) all being articles of stationary included in class 16.

Kanin India (Pvt) Ltd. filed a cancellation proceedings under section 39 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972. Both sides have submitted their evidence but the hearing which is typically the next stage of cancellation proceedings has not yet occurred.

Now both sides have filed interim requests. Kanin India have requested permission to file supplementary evidence, and Chen Writing Instruments have requested that Kanin India post a bond to cover legal costs should Kanin lose the cancellation proceedings.

Filing Additional Evidence

The general course of cancellation proceedings is set out in the 1940 regulations. Kanin India’s request to submit additional evidence at this stage contravenes the general order of things.

The additional evidence includes two Israel court rulings:

  • 2430/98 Kangaroo Industries Regd. vs. Guard Writing Instruments (1995) LTD.  (30 July 2007)
  • 18116/02 Guard Writing Instruments (1995) LTD.  vs. Chen Writing Instruments LTD (11 Sep 2007).
  • Three affidavits from Ehud Berman, manager and owner of Guard Writing Instruments (1995) LTD. that are dated from 1998, 2004 and 2016.
  • Copies of letters from 1998 sent by Kanin India (Pvt) Ltd., which were attached to Mr Berman’s affidavit from 30 July 1998.
  • Copies of additional letters sent by Kanin India (Pvt) Ltd in 1999 that allegedly mention the trademark

The request to submit the additional evidence was supported by an affidavit signed by Adv. Rami Artman, Kanin India (Pvt) Ltd’s legal counsel, testifying that the evidence only reached him after he had made the original submission of evidence, and that he could not have obtained evidence that he was unaware about.

In the name of Kanin India (Pvt) Ltd., Adv Artman argued that the additional evidence is relevant to rights in the marks and due to their importance, their late submission should be allowed. As the hearing had not yet occurred, there was no reason not to allow their inclusion.

Chen Writing Instruments Ltd. argued that Adv Artman’s affidavit was insufficient and that the evidence was irrelevant to the cancellation proceeding. Furthermore, the evidence was known to the applicants of cancellation when the first round fo evidence was submitted, and since they did not present it at that stage, they were estoppled from submitting it at this later time. If this additional evidence is allowed, it will cause additional and significant expense to Chen Writing Instruments Ltd., and thus Chen Writing Instruments Ltd were entitled to compensation for this damage.

DISCUSSION

As a general rule, evidence is preferably submitted in one lot. (See 2813-07 Unipharm vs. Merck & Co Inc. Section 22 (30 January 2013); See also 579/90 Rozin vs. Bin-Nun p.d. 46(3) 738 (1992) section 8, and also Zusman Civil Evidence Procedures 1995 (509-510).

Nevertheless, the case-law provides considerations that justify later submissions of evidence, particularly the relevance of the submission and the importance of allowing substantive justice to occur. See 1297/011 Michaelovich vs. Clal Insurance ltd. p.d. 55 (4) 577 (2001) 579-580; the stage of the proceedings reached; could the party have brought the evidence at an earlier stage; why the evidence submitted earlier (see Rozin section 8), and whether the opposing party can explain away or contradict the further evidence (391/80 Leserson vs. Workers Residences Ltd. p.d. 38(2) 237 (1984) section 3).

In addition to these considerations, the Commissioner of trademarks has wide discretion to deviate from formal requirements and to accept additional evidence since Regulation 41 grants the Commissioner discretion to deviate from the procedures:

Neither side will add evidence in cases before the Commissioner, however the Commissioner may, at any time allow additional evidence to be submitted as he sits fit, and to adjust costs accordingly.

The commissioner may rely on any of the considerations that courts have allowed, but additionally, may rely on regulation 41 because of the public good inherent in the register. See, for example. competing marks 242735 and 24250 Razer (asia Pacific) PTE Ltd vs Razor USA LLC (14 October 2014), and cancellation proceeding 114996 Hosan Marketing (USA) Ltd vs. Nobel Fashion (1981) Ltd (24 April 2006).

It appears from Mr Berman’s affidavit from 1998, that the Application for cancellation is justified as there was inequitable behaviour in the filing of the Application. However, the way in which this evidence was submitted makes it problematic to allow its inclusion.

It appears from Mr Berman’s affidavit that only part of the evidence available was submitted by the Opposers, and no evidence was submitted as to why the rest of the evidence was not also mae available. The papers were filed in one submission without explanation or organization, and without an affidavit explaining the submission. True, the Agent for the Applicant submitted an affidavit explaining that he had only now learned about the evidence. However, the client did not submit an affidavit or statement explaining the significance of the evidence or why it was not submitted earlier. The commissioner is not convinced that he should accept evidence on the basis of the attorney’s submission. One has to allow the mark owner to cross-examine the challenger and the agent of record cannot represent his client if he himself is signed on an affidavit. this seems to contravene section 36 of the Rules of Ethics for Attorneys 1968 which allow the attorney to testify to technical procedural issues but not to substantive matters. See the request to cancel 187385 aned 187386 Gemological Institute of America and opposition to 200701 and 200702 Gemology Headquarters International (28 May 2012).

Although the commissioner has great flexibility and discretion to allow additional evidence to be submitted, he can also use this discretion to ignore evidence under Section 80 of the Regulations. In this instance, there is no apparent justification to allow late submission of evidence and the Applicant hasn’t even made a case to justify where such late submission should be allowed.

There is something in the trademark owner’s complaint that the additional evidence is being submitted late in the proceedings without due justification.

When weighing up the integrity fo the register against the additional work required to take into account mountains of evidence submitted without proper labeling in an appropriate manner and at an innappropriate stage, the Commissioner ruled that the District Court ruling and the Affidavits of Mr Berman may be submitted together with their appendices within 30 days. The additional material that was not submitted with an affidavit may not be submitted as the trademark owner cannot cross-examine on them.

The Request to Place a Bond for Costs

The mark holder has asked for the Applicant for cancellation to post a bond of not less than 100,000 Shekels to cover legal costs, expenses and damages should the cancellation action be rejected.  The Request is based on section 353a of the Company Law 1999 and section 519 of the Civil Law procedures 1984. Furthermore, the mark owner has requested that the proceedings be stayed until such a bond is posted.

The mark holder considers the request justified since the Applicant for cancellation is a foreign limited liability company (an Indian company) without assets in Israel. Furthermore, the Applicant has not filed any evidence of their financial state. The trademark owner contends that the Applicant is acting in bad faith, is making the proceeding unneccessary complicated by submitting late evidence with a low chance of prevailing, requiring them to post a bond is justified.

To support the request for a bond, an Affidavit from Mr Isaac Neiman, the CEO of the mark holder was submitted together with the request.

The Applicant for cancellation claims that the mark owner’s request to stay proceedings is simply  a ploy to allow them to continue using the mark whilst preventing the Applicant from importing products into Israel.

The Applicant considers the likelihood of the cancellation request being allowed as reasonable, and considers the size of the bond requested to be disproportionate and inappropriate for an Indian company.

Section 353a states:

If an Israeli or foreign limited company files a legal proceeding in an Israel Court, the court is allowed, at defendant’s request, to require the applicant to post a bond to cover legal expenses in the event of the action being dismissed, and can stay proceedings until such a bond is deposited, unless the court is convinced that the Applicant has the resources to pay its bills.

The parties do not disagree that the commissioner can request such a bond deposited. Such bonds have been placed from time to time, see Israel Trademark No. 242256 East and West Stores Ltd. vs. East and West Importers Ltd. (27 August 2012); The Mooi cases Densher vs. Mewah Brands  and Oui Gruppe GmbH & Co. vs. Mis El High Fashion (1992) Ltd. The guidelines for such cases are given in Appeal 10376/07 LN computerized engineering vs. Bank HaPoalim (2009) paragraph 13:

From that stated above, the court reviewing a request for bail to be posted by a plaintiff who is a company to ensure that costs are covered, should first of all consider the financial status of the applicant. This is the first clause in the law, but this does not stop here. If the court is not satisfied that the plaintiff can pay his fees should the defendant prevail, the court should consider whether placing bail is appropriate or not. This stage requires considering the legal rights of  the parties and the status of the parties. The general situation is that a bond is required, and a decision not to require one is an exception to the general state of affairs.

See Appeal 10905/07 Naot Oasis Hotels ltd/ et al. vs. Zisser (13 July 2007, 23 May 2011).

Furthermore, in LN Engineering it was ruled that one does not consider the likelihood of prevailing unless the case is very clear-cut.

In other words – if, for example, the chances of prevailing are high, it may be appropriate not to request a bond but there are two points: (a) the proof is on the plaintiff to show that their case is very good, and (b) it is generally inappropriate to enter a protracted analysis of the chances of prevailing and these should only be considered if they are very good or very poor.

Since the general position is that bonds should be required and the Applicant is a foreign limited company without Israeli assets, the Applicant has failed to to provide justification for NOT requiring them to post a bond. No evidence was submitted about the companies’ finances.

As to the specifics of the case, the onus is on the applicant to show that he should NOT place a bond, and in this instance, one notes that the Applicant made the strange move of late submission of evidence, and was also responsible for various delays and extensions at various stages. Nevertheless, at this stage, it does not seem appropriate to look into the merits of the case. In conclusion, the Applicant has not persuasively argued that they should not post bail.

In LN Engineering, it was ruled that bail should be proportionate to expected costs if the Applicant loses:

Once the second inquiry is concluded with a conclusion that the Applicant should indeed post bail, the third inquiry commences, to ascertain the appropriate bond that is proportionate and balances the various interests. Paragraph 13 here.

The mark holder has asked for a bond to be set at 100,000 Shekels, and notes that actual costs so far have been 50,000 Shekels, but one has to note the large additional submission of evidence that has now been made.

Consequently, the Applicant has to deposit a personal promissory note for the full amount requested within 30 days for the case to move forwards.

CONCLUSION

The District Court ruling and its appendices may be submitted. Mr Berman’s statement and its appendices may be submitted, but no further evidence will be allowed.

The Applicant will personally guarantee payment of costs of  100,000 Shekels should the cancellation proceedings prevail, and in consequence of this late submission, the applicant will pay 8000 Shekels legal fees within 30 days.

Interim Ruling by Asa Kling re cancellation of 130585 (KANEX), 28 September 2016.

COMMENT

This is a cancellation proceeding. There is nothing to stop the Applicant from filing a second cancellation proceeding immediately on this one being rejected.  No trademark is ever inviolate. It is therefore appropriate to review all the evidence available and to rule on substance not on formalities. It therefore seems clear that evidence should be allowed to be submitted at any stage. However, if the stage is not the correct one, costs should be awarded against the late submitter. Similarly, evidence submitted without a proper affidavit or in a format not acceptable, should be objected to, giving the submitter an opportunity to correct the defects, and awarding costs to the opposing party.


Dormeo – A mark-owner is entitled to a hearing in a cancellation proceedings, even when failing to show evidence of use of the mark.

October 10, 2016

dormeo

Studio Moderna owns Israel Trademark Numbers 109784, 209785, 209786 and 209787. The mark is for Dormeo, in classes 20 (Mattresses; beds and parts thereof (not included in other classes); slatted frames and bed undersides; cushions; pillows; anatomical pillows not included in other classes; seat cushions; pillow materials), 24 (Textile goods, not included in other classes, including covers, coverlets, mattress covers, covers for cushions, bed sheets, blankets, bedding, bed linen and bed cloths (bedding); textiles, not included in other classes), 25 (Clothing; footwear; headwear; scarves, corsets (belts for warming the lower back), arm sleeves, leggings, elbow bands, wrist bands and slippers) and 35 (for Advertising, marketing and promotion services; advertising agencies; advertising through all public communication means; distribution and dissemination of advertising material; rental of advertising space; demonstration of goods; public relations; marketing studies; presentation of goods on communications media for retail purposes; advertising via electronic media and the internet; publicity services, namely, promoting the goods, services, brand identity and commercial information and news through print, audio, video, digital and on-line medium; advertising and commercial information services, via the internet; advertising services in connection with the commercialization and sale of products for household purposes, furnishing articles, clothing; creating and updating advertising material; distribution and dissemination of advertising materials, leaflets, prospectuses, printed material and product samples).

In July 2015, Aldi GmbH & Co. KG filed to have the marks cancelled under Section 41 of the Trademark Ordinance, alleging lack of local use.

In response, on 12 October 2015, Studeo Moderna submitted evidence of usage and denied that the mark was not in use. Aldi responded with Affidavits of their personnel and of a private investigator, and argued that the marks were not in use in Israel.

Time passed, and Studeo Moderna took various extensions, but failed to submit evidence. On 7 June 2016 Aldi requested that the Patent and Trademark Office rule on the case based on the material in the file. Studeo Moderna opposed this, claiming the right to cross-examine Aldi’s witnesses.

Commissioner Kling reviewed Regulations 71 and regulations 37 to 46 which relate to an opposer and an applicant, as if they relate to a challenger and a trademark holder and noted that once the challenger has provided evidence, the mark holder was obliged to provide evidence, but the time-frame for so-doing was limited and the deadline had passed. He specifically rejected the implicit position taken by the marks holder, that ONLY if the challenger’s evidence is considered compelling, is the marks holder required to submit counter-evidence on the basis of regulations 38-40 which require the parties to submit their evidence in one go.

According to the Commissioner, an Opposer or a challenger of an issued mark who fails to provide evidence supporting a claim of non-use is considered as withdrawing or abandoning the claim. This is NOT the case for the applicant or mark owner, who, though obliged to provide evidence, is not considered as abandoning his marks if he fails to do so. Since the mark owner has requested to cross-examine the challenger’s witnesses he cannot be considered as having abandoned his marks. The right to cross-examine witnesses is fundamental and is rarely denied.  The Commissioner is also obliged to hear the claims of both sides. Consequently, the hearing will go ahead, however the marks owner is warned that he may be laying himself open to high costs of the marks are nevertheless cancelled. The parties are invited to list days that they are available for a hearing in January 2017.

 

 


Formalities May be a Big Deal

September 20, 2016

This is an interim request to delete evidence submitted in a trademark cancellation proceeding.

Israel Trademark No. 131862 for “Big Deal” covers shop services for toys, kitchenware, disposable articles, houseware, clothing for children, and drawing books; all included in class 35.   It is owned by H.A.B. Trading Ltd which has stores selling discounted goods. Yediot Internet (YNet) has an internet website offering special offers. Their website is called Big Deal.

big deal storeynet big-deal

Yediot Internet filed a request to cancel H.A.B.’s mark and H.A.B. Trading LTD requested that Yediot Internet’s counter-evidence be deleted from the file due to it not complying with various formalities. Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi refused the request to throw out the evidence, but gave the applicant for cancellation (Yidiot Internet) 14 days to resubmit their expert opinion as a proper signed and dated affidavit with an  appropriate lawyer’s warning within 14 days, and to ensure that the trademark owner’s counsel receives a copy in this period as well. She also awarded interim costs of 800 Shekels + VAT to the mark owner (H.A.B. Trading Ltd ) to be paid within 14 days. A report of that decision may be found here.

This post reports in the next episode in this thrilling saga.

In the 22 June 2016 decision Ms Shoshani Caspi found that there were indeed flaws in the Expert Opinion submitted by Yidiot Internet that adversely affected the value of their submission as evidence. For example, the signatures were on an otherwise blank piece of paper appended to the opinion, so it is not clear that the undersigned expert was aware of what his signature was attached to. The opinion didn’t include the name of the expert giving it, and wasn’t dated.

Since striking evidence from the record is a drastic step that may have dire consequences to the party whose evidence is struck from the record, Ms Shoshani Caspi preferred to give the party requesting the cancellation a window to correct the formalities.

The Opinion was submitted on paper and not using the on-line submission system, contrary to Regulation 6b of the Trademark Regulations 1940. [MF astute readers will probably guess that back in 1940 there was no on-line submission process – the current regulation is an amendment – MF]. The requester for cancellation ignored the Adjudicator’s instructions and it is not clear that the Opinion was submitted to the agent of record of the owner of the trademark.

Apparently losing patience, the Adjudicator gave the agents for Yediot Internet until September 1, 2016 to comply with her instructions as the hearing was set for September 4, 2016. She then warned the agents for Yediot Internet that failure to follow her instructions would affect the weight she would give to the evidence submitted.

Re Proceeding to Cancel Israel Trademark No. 131862 “Big Deal” Interim Decision by Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi, 28 August 2016

 


Israel Trademark No. 158991 “פליסקה, PLISKA, ПЛИСКА” (stylized)

September 12, 2016

pliskaIsrael Trademark No. 158991 “פליסקה, PLISKA, ПЛИСКА” (stylized) was registered on 1 September 2014 for alcoholic drinks in class 33. On 24 March 2005 half the ownership was transferred from Capital Food Company ltd. to D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) ltd.

On 2 February 2016, Vinex Preslav Joint-Stock Company filed a request to have the trademark struck from the register due to alleged lack of use during the previous three years. Vinex Preslav Joint-Stock Company is a Bulgarian company that claims to have used the term Pliska for alcoholic beverages since 1994, and has registered the mark worldwide under the Madrid Protocol since 2005. Vonex Preslav claim to have sales in Israel.

Furthermore, Vinex Preslav notes that there is an agreement between the registered owners, Capital Food Company Ltd. and D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd, that was submitted to the Israel Patent Office, under which D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd undertook not to use the mark from 1 January 2005 onwards.

On 31 March 2016, Capital Food Company Ltd. submitted their statement of case. They claim that their rights to the Pliska trademark outweigh those of Vinex Preslav, that they have used the mark in recent years and intend to continue using it. Capital Food Company Ltd allege that a cancellation request filed 14 years after a mark was registered is surprising and itself indicates that the mark has a reputation.

On 25 May 2016, Capital Food Company Ltd submitted a request to transfer the mark to Vinex Preslav in accordance with an agreement reached between the parties. However, on 31 May 2016, Vinex Preslav submitted their evidence to have the mark canceled and requested a decision based on the evidence submitted without a hearing.

Vinex Preslav requested that the cancellation ruling be based on a statement by Mr Vadim Farber, the CEO of Carmi International Foods Ltd, who is the distributor in Israel that Vinex Preslav uses. Mr Vadim Farber affirmed the existence and contents of an agreement between Capital Food Company Ltd. and D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd. under which D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) ltd. were obliged not to use the mark, and he further affirmed that the mark had not been used in Israel over the previous three years.

Vinex Preslav also submitted a statement from Ronen Menashe, an investigator at SML Israel Intelligence Ltd, in which he affirmed that his investigations had yielded no evidence of usage by D.Y.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd. today or over the past ten years. Mr Menashe had held a conversation with the director of D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd. who explained that he conducted his affairs via a further company, since D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) ltd.  is no longer active. Furthermore, the new company does not make any usage of Israel Trademark No. 158991 “פליסקה, PLISKA, ПЛИСКА”. Mr Menashe also visited a number of shops spelling wines and spirits but none of them sold products with Israel Trademark No. 158991 “פליסקה, PLISKA, ПЛИСКА” on it, or any other products manufactured by D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) ltd.

On 21 June 2016, Capital Food Company Ltd announced that they no longer had any connection with D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd, would not be submitting evidence, and requested a ruling based on the material of record.

RULING

Section 41 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states:

41. [a] Without prejudice to the generality of the provision of sections 38 to 40, application for the cancellation of the Registration of a trade mark regarding some or all of the goods or classes of goods in respect of which a trade mark is registered (hereinafter – goods regarding which the cancellation is requested) may be made by any person interested on the ground that there was no bona fide intention to use the trade mark in connection with the goods for which it is registered in connection with the goods regarding which there is a request to cancel the registration and that there has in fact been no bona fide use of the trade mark in connection with those goods in connection with the goods regarding which there is a request to cancel the registration, or that there had not been any such use during the three years preceding the application for cancellation.

The purpose of the section is to keep the trademark register clean from non-used marks. See BAGATZ 67/71 “Prem” Ltd. vs Registrar of Trademarks, p.d. 28(1) 802, 811, where, with respect to the previous version of the section it was ruled that:

Section 22 is intended, primarily, if not exclusively, to purify the trademark register of all marks that are not in use and without bona fide intent to use. This is a national issue, so that registers are not weighed down with theoretical marks. It was not incidental that the legislators required bona fide usage after registration.

The requester for cancellation first claimed that the owners had never used the mark in Israel. Following the request to transfer the mark to them by the current owners, there is no need to cancel the mark, but only to transfer ownership and to delete D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd from the register.

It will be noted that Section 41 of the ordinance allows for full or partial cancellation of a mark by narrowing the list of goods covered.  There is, however, no provision for cancelling some owners whilst leaving others as registered owners.

The request to cancel the mark focuses on a lack of usage by D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd, and the investigator did not attempt to determine whether or not Capital Food Company Ltd was using the mark. Mr Farber testified that the owners were not using the mark, but Capital Food Company ltd themselves claimed usage in recent years but did not substantiate this with any evidence. Furthermore, Capital Food Company ltd transferred their share in the mark to Vinex Preslav, leaving the fate of the mark with the Commissioner, and without making any demands themselves.

The net effect of this is that the request is really one of correcting the register by deleting D.I.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd as an owner. Section 38(a) of the ordinance states:

38(a) Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, any person aggrieved by the non-insertion or omission from the Register without sufficient cause, or by any entry wrongly remaining on the Register, or by any error or defect in any entry in the Register, may make application in the prescribed manner to the Supreme Court or may, at his option, make such application in the first instance to the Registrar. 

The requester for correcting  the register is an aggrieved person and is covered by Section 38a). It has previously been established that an “aggrieved person” is no different from the “interested party” referred to in section 41 of the Ordinance (- see Seligsohn “Trademarks and Related Laws” 1973, page 105. The Supreme Court related to this in Civil Appeal 941/05 Wine Maker’s Cooperative of Rishon l’Zion and Zichron Yaacov  vs. The Kerem Company Ltd. p/d/ 61(3) where it is stated:

The phrase “he that is disadvantaged” is explained liberally in the case-law to include someone who suffers some disadvantage in some manner vis-a-vis some third-party who enjoys a trademark registration that they are not entitled to. This explanation is based on the English phrase “Aggrieved Person” as understood in the English Law that the  Ordinance brings into Israel Law.

 The requester for cancellation fulfils this precondition since, according to his statement, he’s used the mark in his home country for decades, has usage abroad and is interested in using the mark in Israel.

The Commissioner’s has wide authority in this regard, a previous commissioner ruled regarding Israel Trademark No. 66312 “NIPRO” in Abbott laboratories vs. Nissho Corporation 13 July 1999:

Since Section 38 deals with various changes to the register, from cancellation due to lack of distinctiveness and including transfer of rights in a mark from one entity to another, the considerations behind allowing amendments depends on the underlying justification and on the scope of amendment requested. There are cases where a Section 38 amendment will be allowed and others where it will not.

This is demonstrated by the fact that the legislators limited the period under which a mark may be cancelled due to non-registerability, but did not limit the period during which the register could be amended (see section 39(a1) of the Ordinance, and also the words of explanation (published on 27 July 1999 Page 525 in the protocols of the Law for amending Intellectual Property legislation in light of the TRIPS agreement 1999, Book of Laws 1721 from 30 December 1999, Page 48, which resulted in this section being added to the Ordinance.

Nevertheless, when considering a request to amend the register, it is necessary to consider the rights of third parties that could be disadvantaged by the amendment. Such third parties are not merely the parties themselves, but include competitors who if the amendment is not allowed, could file for cancellation of the mark due to lack of use.

Furthermore, the requester of the cancellation wishes to be registered as the user themselves, after testifying that the mark is not actually in use. The correct procedure is to have the non-sued mark cancelled and then to file a new application. The new application is then open to third-party challenges by way of opposition and allows other parties, their say.

Additionally, if the mark is indeed dormant for so long, this increases the likelihood that other parties may be using the mark and assigning the mark in this manner could leave such other parties exposed to infringement actions.

Thus even if the end result is that the requester of the cancellation be registered as the mark owner, this result should be achieved with consideration for the rights of others, and not by devious means.

In light of the above, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jaqueline Bracha rules as follows:

  1. The request to amend the register such that D.Y.L. Trade (Maglan) Ltd is replaced by Vinex Preslav as the owner is not acceptable
  2. If Vinex Preslav wishes to continue with the cancellation request, they have 30 days to show lack of use of both owners. Since Capital Food Company Ltd. have stated that they will not be submitting evidence themselves, the decision will issue based on the submission by Vinex Preslav only
  3. Vinex Preslav may abandon the cancellation request within 30 days; the mark will remain owned by two parties and Vinex Preslav may substitute themselves for Capital Food Company Ltd as the part owner as per the transfer of ownership record that was submitted.

Cancellation or Change of Ownership of Israel Trademark No. 158991 “פליסקה, PLISKA, ПЛИСКА” (stylized) Ms Jaqueline Bracha, 22 August 2016