Announcing the JIPLP Special Issue on the national transpositions of the DSM Directive: Call for Articles!

The Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) is delighted to announce a Call for Articles for its forthcoming special issue on the national transpositions of the DSM Directive 2019/790, which will be published in 2022.

Interested authors are invited to submit articles in the range of 3,500-6,000 words on a topic of their choice within this theme for consideration for publication in JIPLP. The issue will focus on the national approaches to the interpretation and transpositions of the Directive's provisions. Both actual transposition measures and draft provisions can be the topic of articles. No articles focusing exclusively on the text of the Directive may be considered for this issue.

Relevant articles must be submitted through the online portal, be in accordance with JIPLP house style, and carry the indication that they are for consideration for the special issue on the DSM Directive's national transpositions.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, 18 March 2022. No late submissions will be considered for this special issue.

For authors interested in discussing informally the topic of a possible contribution, please email the Editor of this special issue, Eleonora Rosati, and/or Managing Editor Sarah Harris.

The special issue will be available in complimentary open access for a limited period of time after publication. The Editor is also considering the possible organization of an online conference/meeting with the authors of the special issue after the special issue has been published.

The Authors' Take - Are copyright-permitted uses “exceptions”, “limitations” or “user rights”? The special case of Article 17 CDSM Directive

Are copyright-permitted uses “exceptions”, “limitations” or “user rights”? The special case of Article 17 CDSM Directive


by Tito Rendas


In law, terminology matters a great deal. In the specific case of copyright, it matters because the words we use to refer to permitted uses of protected works – uses like private copying, quotation or parody – may have important practical consequences. With this forthcoming article, I hope to clarify the legal nature of permitted uses in copyright law. For that purpose, I shall tackle two sources of terminological disagreement.

The first relates to the nature of the rules that lay down permitted uses, specifically whether they should be considered “exceptions” or “limitations”. According to conventional wisdom, this terminological choice may affect the way we interpret these provisions: it is said that “exceptions” must be interpreted in a strict manner, whereas “limitations” tolerate broad readings. After concluding that the rules setting forth permitted uses are better described as “exceptions”, I make clear that this qualification should not be taken as carrying a preference for their narrow interpretation or as admitting their hierarchically inferior status in relation to exclusive rights. Despite being exceptions, nothing prevents these rules from being construed extensively.

I then move on to examining the nature of the entitlements conferred by copyright exceptions. I submit that, in general, these entitlements are not rights properly-so-called, since they are not paired with a correlative duty. Instead, we should refer to them as “privileges” or “freedoms”.

In some cases, however, the prerogatives enjoyed by users may be appropriately qualified as “rights”. I argue that the safeguards contained in Article 17 CDSM Directive create one such case. Whereas Article 17(7) puts online content-sharing service providers under a duty not to prevent uses that are covered by exceptions, Article 17(9) gives the beneficiaries of exceptions access to truly offensive means of reaction, instead of mere means of defense. Read together, these safeguards confer actual rights upon users.


[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - Fighting the tech giants – news edition: Competition law’s (un)suitability to safeguard the press publishers’ right and the quest for a regulatory approach

Fighting the tech giants – news edition: Competition law’s (un)suitability to safeguard the press publishers’ right and the quest for a regulatory approach

by Tone Knapstad

As part of the ongoing debate on value-sharing for creators and users of online content, press publishers were granted a neighbouring right under EU copyright. This entailed an opportunity to obtain remuneration through licences for the use of online journalistic content by online aggregation services.

However, the right’s lack of efficiency became visible when press publishers in France, the first country to implement the right, attempted to enforce remuneration for Google’s use of snippets. Google demanded zero-remuneration licences or would abstain from using snippets from news webpages, which has proven to lead to decline in webpage traffic. Accordingly, the press publishers were still not seeing the promised remuneration. Since the strong market position of Google appeared to enable the ultimatum, the publishers claimed the behaviour infringed competition law, constituting an abuse of dominance.

This article argues that EU competition law cannot be relied on to ensure remuneration under the press publishers’ right. This argument is, firstly, based on an analysis concluding that practices similar to that of Google – forcing zero remuneration licences - do not constitute an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. Secondly, the argument is founded on the conclusion that competition law, de lege ferenda, should not be applied for such purposes, as the goal of competition law does not warrant securing remuneration. Moreover, it is suggested that the fairness standard, which some argue is becoming a benchmark in EU competition law, is not a steering principle in itself, but rather that fairness is the result of correct competition law enforcement.

Lastly, the article maps the alternative regulatory approaches initiated in the EU (Digital Markets Act), Australia (Mandatory Bargaining Code) and the US. This is done to assess whether these solve the problem of press publisher remuneration and to explore the implications of regulation for competition law.

[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - The purpose of copyright

The purpose of copyright 

by Simone Schroff

Digital technology has redefined how copyright works are created, distributed and consumed, changing the expectations of creators, commercial intermediaries and users alike. In this environment, clarity about what copyright aims to achieve is crucial to strike a viable bargain between the different groups.

The purpose of copyright has come under intense and sustained scrutiny over the last two decades. Copyright law is traditionally seen as a tool to protect the author, reward creators and investors and ensure societal benefit. While the debates about the right balance are wide-ranging and sometimes highly contentious, any consensus has proven elusive. Stakeholder dissatisfaction and claims of policy failure are increasingly common.

This article argues that the stagnating debates show that the traditional copyright theories do not provide sufficient guidance. Instead, reforms need to be reassessed based on what policy makers actually try to achieve. Using conventional discourse analysis on empirical EU policy evidence, the cross- institutional minimum consensus on what copyright aims to achieve is explored.

The results show how EU copyright policy differs from the theoretical and member state level debates. In particular, all aspects of EU copyright are shaped by the Single European Market: technological change brings economic benefits and copyright is a tool to harness them. As a result, copyright is considered a property right and all interference with it needs be kept to a minimum while competition law provides the safety net. The findings also show that while the narrative of harm to creators mobilises public opinion, reform proposals are more likely to succeed if they treat technological innovation as an economic opportunity rather than a threat.

[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - For a clarification of the concept of similarity - Critical review of European case-law regarding infringement of a mark with reputation

For a clarification of the concept of similarity - Critical review of European case-law regarding infringement of a mark with reputation


by Louis Louembé, Pierre Massot, and Mythili Thaya


What is similarity between signs? If no one asks us, we know what it is. If we wish to explain, to him who asks when elements of resemblances are sufficient for a sign to be considered similar to a trade mark with reputation, we find it far more difficult! This is the paradox of trade mark lawyers put in the words of Saint Augustine (surely for a more philosophical question). Although more practical, the question of the similarity of signs is of the utmost importance to defend efficiently trade marks with reputation against free-riding.

Indeed, when a trade mark is well-known, it is sufficient for the sign in dispute to repeat a characteristic element of the trade mark with reputation, however minor it may seem, to trigger a mental association with it, as demonstrated in the famous "Master" case (judgment of 11 December 2014, Coca-Cola, T-480/12). It is therefore important to have a method of assessing similarity between signs sufficiently thorough to take into account apparently minor elements but which can be sufficient to create a likelihood of association because of all relevant factors (such as of the reputation of the trade mark, the identity of the products and services offered, etc.).

Our article aims at demonstrating that European case-law is not satisfying in this regard. Indeed, the CJUE has initially modelled the method of assessing similarity in the case of infringement of a trade mark with reputation on the method designed to search for a likelihood of confusion. As a consequence, it excludes any consideration of reputation at the stage of assessing similarity and encourages consideration of the overall impression produced by the signs. Although the CJEU has attempted to make certain adjustments, the method of assessing similarity in relation to trade marks with reputation remains unsatisfactory and a source of uncertainty in the case law. It is also inconsistent with the case law on protected designations of origin, even though the logic governing these two systems is similar. We conclude that the method of assessing similarity in the case of infringement of a trade mark with reputation should be reviewed and defined with regard to its own purpose, i.e. identifying elements of resemblances sufficient to create a mental link between signs, and not a likelihood of confusion.


[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - Comment on Andy Warhol Found. for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 8806 (2d Cir. March 26, 2021)

Comment on Andy Warhol Found. for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 8806 (2d Cir. March 26, 2021)

U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals tames “transformative” fair use; rejects “celebrity-plagiarist privilege”; clarifies protectable expression in photographs


by Jane C. Ginsburg


In Andy Warhol Found. for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 8806 (March 26, 2021), the Second Circuit reversed the SDNY’s grant of summary judgment that Andy Warhol’s silk screen adaptation of a photographic portrait of entertainer Prince was a fair use. The Second Circuit’s decision retreats both from its prior caselaw’s generous characterization of artistic reuse as “transformative,” and from the outcome-determinacy of a finding of “transformativeness.” The court also provided an important explanation of copyrightable authorship in photographs.

Lynn Goldsmith's photograph (L);
Andy Warhol's Prince (R) 

Like other recent decisions, this judgment may signal a taming of “transformative use.” Prior caselaw, particularly in the district courts, seemed to accept almost any alleged new meaning or purpose, or added expression, as “transformative,” and then, having racked the first fair use factor into the defendant’s column, lined up the other three to conform to the first. Appellate courts now may be curbing this enthusiasm, both by adopting a more critical assessment of alleged transformations, and by reviving the independent importance of the fourth factor, market harm. In emphasizing the impact of the defendant’s use on the plaintiff’s ability to license derivative works, the Second Circuit may have begun to redress Cariou’s derogatory treatment of the art world proletariat. The court recognized that depriving photographers of licensing markets, including markets for using their works as “raw material” for other artists to stylize, disserves the overall goal of copyright to promote creativity by enabling artists to make a living.

Furthermore, the court’s exposition of protectable expression in photographs should reassure photographers, particularly photojournalists, whose art consists largely of knowing how and when to seize the moment. Against the contention that such images merely convey a reality the photographer did not create, the court’s emphasis on “the image produced in the interval between the shutter opening and closing,” (at *37) recognizes that “the readiness is all.” (Shakespeare, Hamlet V.2).


[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - Preclusion Due To Tolerance: Conditions For Applying The Acquiescence Rule In Trade Mark Law

Preclusion Due To Tolerance: Conditions For Applying The Acquiescence Rule In Trade Mark Law

by Michal Bohaczewski


The article analyses a rule of the EU trade mark law referred to by the legislature as ‘acquiescence’. The provisions on acquiescence provide for a period of preclusion for filing an invalidation or infringement action against a later registered trade mark which has been used on the market, provided that the proprietor of the earlier right tolerated that use for 5 successive years. 

The study first examines the prerequisites for the commencement of the period of preclusion resulting from the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU. In particular, the author refers to the requirement of knowledge by the proprietor of the earlier trade mark of the use of the later mark which, in some cases, in the absence of evidence of direct knowledge, may be deduced from the circumstances of the case. 

The article further analyses the conditions which need to be fulfilled for the period of preclusion to expire. The author raises the issue of the form in which the proprietor of the earlier right should oppose the use of the later trade mark in order to exclude his acquiescence. This matter of major practical importance is currently subject to a question referred to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling (C-466/20). 

The study also examines the relationship between the preclusion due to acquiescence and the ‘peaceful coexistence’ of the trade marks as a factor to be taken into account in the assessment of the likelihood of confusion between the signs, since prima facie the scopes of application of both rules may seem to overlap. The author concludes however that in reality there is little room for an overlapping between them.


[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

The Authors' Take - Trademarking “COVID” and “Coronavirus” in the United States: An Empirical Review

Trademarking “COVID” and “Coronavirus” in the United States:

An Empirical Review


by Irene Calboli


Since its global debut in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a tsunami of trademark applications including the terms “COVID,” “Coronavirus,” and other medical and pandemic-management related terms. In this Article, I examine the applications that have been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office until the end of 2020. In particular, I present a comprehensive set of data regarding the products for which the applications have been filed, the type of filing entities, the legal basis for filing, and the date of filing throughout the relevant period. Based on these data, the COVID-19 pandemic led not only to a large number of filings for medical and pandemic-related products, but also for unrelated and promotional products. Individuals and small businesses were the largest groups of filers, and over two thirds of the applications were based on intent-to-use rather than use in commerce. The number of filings closely mirrored the development of the pandemic during the various months of 2020. In addition, when compared with previous filings for signs including terms related to past sensational events, including pandemics, the numbers of “COVID-19 related” applications were much higher than any previous filings. This confirms the catalyst effect of the COVID-19 pandemic also on the trademark application system, even though a large number of these applications may ultimately not be registered as several signs may be found to be generic or descriptive—in particular for medical and pandemic-related products—or deemed not to function as trademarks—for example if they are used as ornamentations on promotional products. The signs may also be found to be deceptive if they imply a specific cure or solution, when this may not be accurate. Still, the data presented highlight several interesting aspects of the phenomenon of “filing sensationalism,” even though it remains difficult to understand what triggered this large number of filings precisely with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic--a time that we all hope to put behind in the nearest future.

[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]

In conversation with ... Prof. Dr. Annette Kur


The editors of the
 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) were very honoured when Prof. Dr. Annette Kur accepted their invitation to join the journal’s editorial board a couple of years ago. I too was delighted when Annette agreed to talk to me recently for the second in a new series of conversations with leading figures in the IP community…

The effects of chance or coincidence – perhaps serendipity? – were a recurrent theme of our conversation, a retrospective survey of Annette’s distinguished career. With characteristic modesty, Annette described how she first developed an interest in the Nordic countries, leading the Nordic Department at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition in Munich. Annette first arrived at the Institute, drawn initially by the favourable conditions in which to write her PhD, not with a background in IP, but from a competition and consumer protection perspective. This desire to protect consumers and the socially weaker has persisted ever since. It was Annette’s (rudimentary to begin with) knowledge of the Swedish language that was instrumental in establishing her at the Institute – the first defining moment of her illustrious career. Annette proceeded to master (passively) not only Swedish, but also Norwegian and Danish, and spent significant amounts of time translating, which was a key task in the country departments at the Institute. The Nordic community became and remains precious to Annette’s heart.

 

Annette referred to the Institute as a microcosm of the wider IP community, which also holds a special place for her. It is unique. A small community in the early days, the Institute became a hub for IP internationally and is still a family. Annette described the appeal of IP intellectually: copyright and its affinity with the arts, and patents, though very different, still connected with ideas. Annette loves the playfulness and flexibility of the IP system. Its rules may be rigid, but at their core is a genuine dynamism as nothing is cast in stone. As Annette put it, “everything moves”. It struck me that Annette, as a true comparativist, enjoys the intellectual stimulation provided by contrasts; she compared the German system, with its rigidity and hierarchy, with the Nordic academic landscape and its non-hierarchical style of communication. Within the Max Planck Institute, as people come together from so many different countries, it is impossible to impose a strict hierarchy or a strict dogma. According to Annette, this accentuated the openness and playfulness at the Institute, especially in the Nordic Department. 

 

Known as a guiding light in design law, having been instrumental in the creation of the system of Community designs, Annette shared with me how further serendipity influenced the next phase of her career. Having previously focused on unfair competition and trade mark law from the consumer’s point of view, Annette was invited by the then director at the Institute to participate in a new interesting research project. This was subsequently adopted by the Commission as a blueprint and European design law was established. With typical self-deprecation, Annette attributes her then being viewed as a “design person” to several more amazing coincidences, and even confusion between the Hague Conference on Private International Law and Hague – the International Design System!

 

As Annette said, “Coincidences play a role in influencing one’s life and one’s academic output”.

 

In a final strange coincidence, I was lucky enough to take delivery of the recent festschrift published in honour of Annette by Cambridge University Press. This arrived by chance about an hour before we had arranged to speak and provided me with the opportunity to read more about Annette’s history and to note some of the distinguished names whose chapters have been included in the book, a further sign of the high esteem in which Annette is held. Prof. Eleonora Rosati will shortly be reviewing the book, and readers can look forward to reading her review in a forthcoming issue of JIPLP.

The Authors' Take - Governing the fashion industry (through) Intellectual Property assets: systematic assessment of individual trade marks embedding sustainable claims

Governing the fashion industry (through) Intellectual Property assets: systematic assessment of individual trade marks embedding sustainable claims


by Sara Cavagnero


As public interest in sustainable fashion rapidly surges, trade marks are playing a prominent role in promoting eco-friendly products and engendering consumer trust. PRADA registered the trade mark “Re-Nylon” to signal its collection based on the regenerated-nylon yarn ECONYL, while the fast-fashion giant H&M relied on the trade mark “CONSCIOUS” to identify products made with recycled or organic materials.

These IP assets allow companies to transfer information on the so-called credence attributes, which empower consumers to select products reflecting not only their instrumental preferences but also their values. However, a missing piece of the puzzle relates to the correlation with sustainability commitments, given that the information provided is not neutral but framed by the brand and, thus, potentially contested.

The risks are clearly outlined in the report released in January 2021 by the European Commission, which revealed that 42% of green claims made by garments, cosmetics, and household companies on their websites are “exaggerated, false or deceptive”, and in 59% of cases not supported by any evidence.

The systematic assessment of 12.335 trade marks including 22 sustainability-related vocabularies filed in the United States, the European Union, and at the international level from 2000 to 2020, revealed that sustainability-related trade marks represent a modest portion of the overall number of registrations in classes 23, 24, and 25, but the growth figures are rising, in line with the general filing trends.

The untouched primacy of the term “green” suggests that corporate strategies are mainly based on green marketing principles, signalling, since the late 1980s, the positive correlation between eco-friendly shade or wording in visual branding and consumers’ judgment about companies’ actions.

Furthermore, by confirming that sustainable trade marks are largely decoupled from sustainable corporate practices, the research results validate the idea of expanding the existing taxonomy of greenwashing sins, by identifying a new form of disingenuous communications, conveyed via individual trade marks.

Still, this proposal is not flawless. Indeed, the IP regulatory framework is ill-adapted to monitor sustainability claims conveyed through individual trade marks and the misleading advertising regulation does not appear to be unfolding its full potential.

Potentially, instead, a more regulated approach, inspired by the food sector, may help to curb disingenuous corporate practices conveyed via trade marks.


[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). The full text of this contribution will be made available on Advance Access soon]