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 »


Exams for Wannabee Israel Patent Attorneys

September 13, 2017

The Israel Patent Office has announced the dates of the qualification exams for Israel Patent Attorneys.

Oral Bagrut PicUnless given a dispensation from one, the other, or both, each candidate has to pass a written exam that tests calligraphy and scribal errors patent drafting skills and langauge skills, and an oral exam that tests dental hygiene knowledge of IP Law, particularly but not exclusively, Israeli law.

exam paperThere are two sessions for the written exams. Those wishing to take an examination relating to computer, mechanical or electronic technologies are invited to come on Monday 27 of November 2017. Those wishing to try their hand at biology or chemistry are invited to come on Tuesday 28 November 2017.

The oral exams will be held on 20th and 21st November and candidates will be assigned specific times on registration.

The deadline for registering is one month in advance.


Filing Baseless Patent Infringement Complaints in the US Can be Expensive

August 30, 2017

Octane fitnessIcon Health and Fitness sued Octane Fitness for patent infringement in 2009, saying that Octane’s high-end elliptical machines infringed US Patent No. 6,019,710, which describes an elliptical machine that allows for adjustments to accommodate individual strides. After two years of litigation, a district court judge found that Octane’s machines didn’t infringe. Octane asked for an award of legal fees, but in 2011, a judge rejected the company’s bid. That decision was upheld on appeal.

It is very rare for US courts to rule costs. This has resulted in the so-called patent troll phenomenon, wherein companies sue for patent infringement on very shaky grounds assuming that they have little to lose.

In this instance, Octane Fitness appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case in 2014. In 9-0 vote, the court issued an opinion (PDF) making it much easier to get attorney’s fees. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion, holding that patent laws call for awarding fees in an “exceptional” case, which is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position… or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”

With that, the case was kicked back down to the lower courts. Under the new standard, the district court judge awarded $1.6 million to Octane over the objections of Icon lawyers.

On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld (PDF) that award in its entirety. The district court found that Icon’s claim construction arguments were “wholly at odds with the patent text, prosecution history, and inventor testimony,” The court also found that Icon included Nellie’s Fitness, an equipment distributor, as a defendant for the purpose increasing Octane’s legal costs.

The appeals judges found “no clear error in its analysis” and upheld the district court’s award. The panel dismissed a cross-appeal by Octane asking for a larger award, which would also cover litigation over the fees.

COMMENT

trollThe case is reminiscent of a frivolous law suit brought by Pearl Cohen on behalf of Vagabond Source, where the courts ruled that Source’s counsel (i.e. Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer pay $187,308.65 in partial attorney’s fees, but that Source not be sanctioned. Pearl Cohen appealed that ruling, and lost again in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

We think that such cost rulings are in order to prevent abuse of the system.

 


MANDO

August 24, 2017

MANDOHalla Holding Corporation filed two Israel Trademark Applications Nos. 257747 and 257748 for the word mark MANDO and for the stylized Mando mark in classes 12 and 35.

The marks covered Horns for motor cars, Anti-theft devices for motor cars, Wheel rims for motor cars, Cycles, Parts and accessories for cycles, Cycle rims, Wheels for motorcycles, Cycle spokes, Cycle stands, Cycle frames, Cycle handle bars, Cycle hubs, Two-wheeled motor vehicles, Air bags{safety devices for automobiles}, Steering wheels for automobiles, Reversing alarms for automobiles, Parts and accessories for automobiles, Electric cars, Tandem bicycles, Mopeds, Touring bicycles, Delivery bicycles, Bicycles, Bicycle rims, Wheels for bicycles/cycles, Bicycle spokes, Frames{for luggage carriers}{for bicycles}, Bicycle stands, Bicycle frames, Bicycle handle bars, Parts and accessories for bicycles, Handlebars, Shock absorbing springs for motor cars, Spiral springs for vehicles, Shock absorbing springs for vehicles, Spring-assisted hydraulic shock absorbers for vehicles, Air springs for vehicles, Suspension Shock absorbers for vehicles, Shock absorbing Springs for vehicles, Suspension shock absorbers for vehicles, Shock absorbers for automobiles, Brakes for motor cars, Brake linings for motor cars, Brake shoes for motor cars, Brake segments for motor cars, Disk brakes for vehicles, Band brakes for vehicles, Brakes for vehicles, Brake facings for vehicles, Brake linings for vehicles, Brake shoes for vehicles, Brake systems for vehicles, Braking systems for vehicles and parts thereof, Brake segments for vehicles, Brake Shoes for vehicles, Block brakes for vehicles, Conical brakes for vehicles, Non-skid devices for vehicle tires[tyres], Braking devices for vehicles, Cycle brakes, Band brakes{for land vehicles}, Block brakes{for land vehicles}, Brake pads for automobiles, Brakes for bicycles/cycles, Bicycle brakes, Gearboxes for motor cars, Crankcases for components for motor cars{other than for engines}, Clutch mechanisms for motor cars, Torque converters for motor cars, Gears for cycles, Reduction gears for land vehicles, Gears for land vehicles, Gear boxes for land vehicles, Transmission shafts for land vehicles, Gears for vehicles, Cranks for cycles, Bearings for land vehicles, Axis for land vehicles, Couplings for land vehicles, Axle journals, Trailer couplings, Electric motors for motor cars, Motors for cycles, Alternating current[AC] motors for land vehicles, Driving motors for land vehicles, Motors for land vehicles, Servomotors for land vehicles, Motors{electric}{for land vehicles}, Direct current[DC] motors for land vehicles; All goods included in Class 12, and Import-export agencies, Administrative processing of purchase orders, Wholesale services for freezers, Retail services for hot-water heating apparatus, Wholesale services for automobiles, Commercial intermediary services in the field of bicycles, Retail services for tires[tyres] and tubes, Wholesale services for antifreeze, Retail services for liquid fuels, Commercial intermediary services in the field of parts of vehicles, Commercial intermediary services in the field of articles of vehicles, Commercial intermediary services in the field of renewal parts of vehicles, Trade agency, Trade consultancy, Trade brokerage, Offer services [trade]; All services included in Class 35

On 23 November 2015, the marks were allowed and on 29 February 2016 an Opposition was submitted by MAN Truck & Bus AG under Section 24a of the Trademark Ordinance and regulation 35 of the regulations.

On 2 May 2016, the Applicant submitted their counter statement and on 6 October 2016, the Opposer submitted their evidence. The Applicant should have submitted their counter-evidence by 6 December 2016, but on 30 November 2016 and again on 2 February 2017, they requested and received two monthly extensions, and so had to submit evidence by 5 May 2016. Despite the extensions, the Applicant did not, in fact, submit their counter-evidence.

On July 2017, and going beyond the letter of the Law, the Patent Office Court sent the Applicant the following notice:

On 6 October 2016 you were required to submit your evidence under Section 39 of the Trademark Ordinance 1940. After receiving extensions, the deadline was set for 5 May 2017. To date, you have not submitted evidence. You have 10 days to let us know if you intend to proceed with this opposition proceeding. If you fail to respond, the case will proceed to a ruling.

The Applicant failed to respond, no evidence was received and no further extensions were sought. The secretaries referred the case to Ms Shoshani Caspi for a ruling.

In light of the above, Ms Shoshani Caspi considers the Applicant as having abandoned Israel Trademark Applications Nos. 257747 and 257748, and the Opposition is accepted for all opposed goods.

Using her authority under Section 69 of the Ordinance, and considering the fact that the Opposer had to submit a statement of case and evidence, instead of the Applicant simply actively abandoning the Application at their own initiative, Ms Shoshani Caspi ruled costs of 7500 Shekels exc. VAT.

Ruling re two Israel Trademark Applications Nos. 257747 and 257748  for MANDO by Ms Shoshani Caspi, 25 July 2017.

COMMENT

Applicant could have saved themselves fees by withdrawing. Additionally, even without submitting evidence they were entitled to request that Adjudicator consider the Opposition on its merits. It is certainly possible that MAN Truck & Bus AG do not have a strong enough case to prevent the mark being registered.

 

Procrastination can be expensive.


Cobra

August 22, 2017

COBRA.pngKnipex-Werk and C Gustav Putsch KG opposed Israel trademark application nos. 279193 in class 7 and 283268 in class 8, which were both filed by Ohev Zion LTD (Ohev Zion, is Love Zion). The marks are shown alongside.

Furthermore, Knipex-Werk and C Gustav Putsch KG filed Israel trademark application no. 289408 in class 8 for the word COBRA, for water pump pliers and pipe wrenches.

On 25 June 2017, the parties submitted a notification to the effect that after long and continuous negotiation, they had reached a coexistence agreement regarding the registration and usage of the marks in Israel, with intent to prevent misleading or confusing Israeli consumers, and the Opposition was thus closed with both parties agreeing to pay their own costs. A copy of the coexistence agreement was appended to the notification.

The parties stated that they were unaware of any actual events of confusion resulted by their usage of the marks in Israel, and that endorsement of the coexistence agreement would protect the public interest, prevent confusion and misleading the public and protect the interests of both parties, acquired through use of their marks in Israel.

cobrasIn the framework of the agreement, the Applicant and the Opposer agree to a number of conditions, designed to protect the Israeli consumers. In addition to restricting the range of goods in the Applications, as detailed below, the Applicant will only use the stylized COBRA mark, and not the word alone. The Opposer will not use the stylized mark. Both parties undertake not to use their marks with respect to goods that the other party has applied for, and thus there is no likelihood of customer confusion.

In accordance with the agreement, the parties have requested that Application number 279193 be restricted to “electric, electro-mechanical or chargeable pliers, wrenches and pipe  wrenches”, and that Application no 284368 will actively disclaim “pliers, wrenches and pipe wrenches”.

The parties request that opposed Israel trademark application nos. 289408 in class 8 for  “water pump pliers and pipe wrenches” be immediately examined and allowed and the Opposition be considered dropped only on publication of the 289408 application as allowed. Should any of this agreement not be allowable, the parties requested that a hearing to be attended by their legal representatives be scheduled as soon as possible.

RULING

There are three trademark applications. The Applied for marks are stylized and the Opposer’s mark is a simple word mark.

In light of the agreement before her, the Adjudicator, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi does not consider that it is sufficient for the Opposer to agree to refrain from using the Applicant’s stylized mark. Also it is insufficient for both parties to refrain from applying for Cobra marks for goods that the other party sells. The Adjudicator considers this insufficient to create the desired difference between the two Cobra marks.

As to correcting the list of goods, the Adjudicator is only partially satisfied.

The list of goods of Israel trademark application no. 279193 in class 7 is as follows:

“Machines and electric and chargeable hand tools, such as electric drills and electric saws; electric and motorized gardening tools, such as choppers, fence trimmers, leaves blowers; air compressors; vacuum cleaners; welding machines; water-pressure washing machines; and electric machines and machine tools for making, processing and cooking food and beverages, namely food processors, meat grinders,  blenders, juice press, vegetable peeling and slicing apparatus; coffee grinders; kneading machines, devices for grinding, milling, crushing and chopping food; electric can openers, electric meat grinders, garbage disposals; vacuum-cleaners; water pressure cleaning devices, steam cleaning devices; and parts and accessories for all the above; all the aforementioned goods excluding electric, electromechanical or chargeable pliers, wrenches and pipe wrenches; all included in class 7.”

The Adjudicator was willing to allow the suggested restriction which disclaims the articles listed by the other party in Israel trademark application no. 289408. However, the agreed list of goods for Israel trademark application no. 284368 in class 8 is not acceptable. That list is as follows:

“Manual hand tools, namely drills, hammers, screws, pinchers, corner nibblers, table nibblers, saws, nibble wheels, razors, electric and non- electric hair clippers and beard, trimmers, scissors to trim hair, nail clippers, electric irons and steam irons, electric hair stylers; parts and accessories for all the above; all the aforementioned goods excluding pliers, wrenches and pipe wrenches; all included in Class 8.”

This is unacceptable since Israel trademark application no. 289408 also includes: “Manual hand tools, namely drills, hammers, screws, pinchers, corner nibblers, table nibblers, saws, nibble wheels”, so the amendment to Israel trademark application no. 284368 is not acceptable.

If, however, Israel trademark application no. 284368 is amended to exclude “Manual hand tools, namely drills, hammers, screws, pinchers, corner nibblers, table nibblers, saws, nibble wheels”, the marks will be considered allowable and the coexistence agreement will be endorsed. The parties have until 19 July 2017 to accept this. There does not seem to be a point in holding a hearing whilst the parties are negotiating, and if the parties fail to come to an agreement, the Opposer should submit their evidence within two months, i.e. by 5 September 2017, with the appropriate fees.

Interim Ruling by Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi re coexistence of COBRA trademark applications, 6 July 2017.