The Authors' Take - Shipment of Counterfeit Goods in Singapore: The Extent of Liability of Freight Forwarders

Shipment of Counterfeit Goods in Singapore: 
The Extent of Liability of Freight Forwarders

Yusarn Audrey

As part of international trade, goods are commonly shipped and delivered across multiple borders (eg. due to transhipment). This inevitably exposes shippers (freight forwarders) that knowingly or unknowingly carry counterfeit goods to border enforcement laws and applicable regulations of multiple jurisdictions. In particular, questions of their liability for trade mark infringement (or other forms of infringement of intellectual property rights) may arise due to their carrying of the said shipments.

This issue was discussed by the Singapore High Court decision in Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Megastar Shipping Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 305 (High Court of Singapore, 24 November 2017) (LV v Megastar), where guidance was provided vis-à-vis the potential liability of freight forwarders that carry shipments containing counterfeit goods.

The High Court determined that whether a freight forwarder (or other intermediary) would be liable for trade mark infringement is highly fact-sensitive, and depends on various factors such as the nature of the transaction and the extent of their knowledge and/or involvement in the same.

The court also made it clear that trade mark infringement may arise even if the goods are merely in transit (eg. where the shipment is brought into Singapore temporarily pending transhipment to another location) and are not actually placed on the market in Singapore.

[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).]

Sir Richard Arnold joins JIPLP Editorial Board

Sir Richard Arnold
The Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) is thrilled to announce that Sir Richard Arnold (High Court of England and Wales - Chancery Division) has accepted the invitation to join its Editorial Board

Sir Richard Arnold does not require an introduction, as his own contribution to IP as a barrister first and as a judge now, as well as a scholar, is well-known and appreciated all over the world.

However, here is his bio:

Called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1985, Sir Richard became a QC in 2000. He was Chairman of the Code of Practice for the Promotion of Animal Medicines Committee from 2002 to 2008, an Appointed Person hearing trade mark appeals from 2003 to 2008 and a Deputy High Court Judge from 2004 to 2008.

He was appointed to the High Court, Chancery Division in October 2008 and was appointed to be Judge in Charge of the Patents Court in April 2013. He was appointed as an External Member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office in March 2016.

He is the author of Performers’ Rights (5th ed, Sweet & Maxwell, 2015), the editor of the Halsbury’s Laws of England title Trade Marks and Trade Names (5th ed, Butterworths, 2014), was editor of Entertainment and Media Law Reports from 1993 to 2004 inclusive and has published numerous articles in legal journals.

JIPLP is truly honoured to have Sir Richard among the members of its Editorial Board, and looks forward to working with him.

The Authors' Take - Disparaging or offensive trademark registrations in the United States

Disparaging or offensive trademark registrations in the United States 
Are there any limits after the US Supreme Court's decision in Matal v Tam?

Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP

The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Matal v. Tam erased the country’s seventy-year-old policy, codified in § 2(a) of the Lanham Act, baring the registration of any trademark that “[c]onsists of or comprises . . . matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”  In a case challenging the Patent & Trademark Office’s refusal to register the mark THE SLANTS for a musical group composed of Asian-Americans, the Court held that the prohibition on registration of disparaging trademarks could no longer be enforced because it is in conflict with the right of free speech that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees.  The decision also effectively settled a more prominent controversy in litigation for over 25 years over whether trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins football team should be cancelled as disparaging to Native Americans.

Most notably, the Court rejected the government’s contention that a trademark registration is “government speech,” to which the First Amendment does not apply, rather than private speech that the First Amendment protects.  The Court decisively rejected the “government speech” argument because trademarks are chosen by the applicants, not the government, and often express a viewpoint—indeed merely by giving offence an offensive or disparaging trademark is expressing a viewpoint.  The decision reinforced the First Amendment’s robust free speech guarantee of even unpopular, odious expression, noting that “the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’”

The Tam decision also calls into question whether the Lanham Act’s statutory provision barring registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech.  Tam has unleashed a torrent of trademark applications not only for a variety of marks using offensive racial and ethnic slurs, but also for marks consisting of or including four-letter words not traditionally used in polite company.  Whether the scandalousness restriction will survive First Amendment scrutiny is currently before the courts in another case, In re Brunetti, wending its way to possible future Supreme Court review.  The government is arguing that Tam is distinguishable and so the restriction can survive.  

[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 Authors' Take - Spiegel Online: Do copyright exceptions and fundamental rights make easy bedfellows?

Spiegel Online:

Do copyright exceptions and fundamental rights make easy bedfellows?

Universidade Católica Portuguesa – Faculdade de Direito

In Spiegel Online – a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) made in the context of proceedings opposing German politician Volker Beck and news publisher Spiegel Online GmbH – the German Federal Supreme Court (BGH) referred a number of questions about the interpretation of exceptions laid down in Article 5 of the InfoSoc Directive, in particular the exception for the reporting of current events and the quotation exception.

Most notably, the BGH asked about the way in which the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU should be taken into account in determining the scope of exceptions. As EU copyright enthusiasts know, the traditional canon of strict interpretation of exceptions has been consistently mitigated by the CJEU’s understanding that interpretation must also ensure the exceptions’ effectiveness and the observance of their purpose. Moreover, in interpreting exceptions like quotation (C-145/10, Painer) and parody (C-201/13, Deckmyn), the CJEU has attempted to strike a fair balance between the intellectual property rights of authors and the fundamental rights of users. Generalising this approach to the remaining exceptions would be a welcome move by the Court.

But the most important among the six questions referred by the BGH is whether the fundamental freedoms of information and of the press may justify exceptions beyond those listed in Article 5. On the one hand, a negative answer would be consonant with the closed nature of the catalogue of exceptions, proclaimed in Recital 32 of the Directive. On the other hand, opening up the catalogue, even if only in carefully delimited circumstances, would amount to an injection of much-needed flexibility into EU copyright law. In the absence of legislative reform in this regard, such a solution would give national courts some breathing space to openly accommodate unforeseen and socially valuable uses of protected works.

[*] The author acted as legal adviser for the Portuguese Government in Case C-516/17, Spiegel Online. Nonetheless, the views expressed in this post are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Portuguese Government.

[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).]

Goldring award for JIPLP founder Jeremy Phillips

Credit: MARQUES Class 46 Blog
It is with great pleasure and pride that we learnt that our founding editor, Jeremy Phillips, was awarded the David Goldring Volunteer Award at the 31st Annual Conference of MARQUES yesterday. Jeremy dedicated his entire life to teaching, researching and practicing IP law, creating, among others, the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, the IPKat, Class 46 and many other blogs and communities. His contribution to intellectual property went well beyond his activity as scholar and teacher, as Jeremy worked tirelessly to bring together all of us in a cohesive, dynamic, curious and supportive network of IP professionals, academics and enthusiasts. Although Jeremy retired in 2015, his passion for IP, his dedication to the IP community and his unshakable enthusiasm will forever live in all of us.

It is only fitting that Jeremy's latest accolade bears the name of David Goldring, whose knowledge of IP, and trade mark law more specifically, was paralleled only by his enthusiasm for the subject. Like Jeremy, David was animated by the desire to contribute to the development of IP, to further its understanding and to shape its policies and laws. In the early 1980s, he was one of the founders of MARQUES, of which he became a Treasurer in 2003, missing only one Annual Conference in thirty years. The David Goldring Volunteer Award, created after his death in 2016, celebrates David's achievements and long lasting contribution by honouring others whose work in trade mark law shares the same spirit, values and generosity. David's ethics and legacy resonate very clearly in Jeremy's lifelong commitment to IP and we share his joy in receiving this award.

We are sure that Jeremy will appreciate receiving your congratulations, messages and best wishes - you can leave them on this page, as a comment to this post, together with the heartfelt congratulations that Eleonora, Marius, Sarah, Guy and I proudly (very proudly!) send to him on behalf of the entire community of JIPLP readers and authors.

Joint JIPLP-GRUR event - A Distinctive Mess? Current Trade Mark Law and Practice in the EU and UK

Since January 2013, the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) has partnered with the German Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (GRUR) to exchange content between JIPLP and GRUR Int., as well as organising events aimed at IP enthusiasts - wherever based!

On Friday, 24 November 2017, join JIPLP and GRUR for an exciting half-day event devoted specifically to the latest trade mark developments and trends in the EU and UK.

The conference will be held at the beautiful London offices of Allen&Overy. It will consist of two panel sessions composed of leading IP practitioners and academics who regularly contribute to JIPLP and GRUR Int, and feature a keynote address by Sir Richard Arnold.

Here's the programme:

14:00-14:30 - Registration

14:30-14:40 - Welcome remarks

14:40-15:40 - EU trade mark law (Moderator: Eleonora Rosati (University of Southampton and JIPLP Co-Editor); Discussants: Yann Basire (Université de Haute Alsace and CEIPI - Université de Strasbourg), Karin Sandberg (Harmsen Utescher and GRUR Board Member), Marius Schneider (Attorney-at-law at the Brussels and Mauritius bar and JIPLP Co-Editor), David Stone (Allen&Overy and JIPLP Board Member), Gert Würtenberger (WK-IP and GRUR President))

15:40-16:00 - Coffee/tea break

16:00-17:00 - Keynote address: Sir Richard Arnold

17:00-18:00 - Trade marks in the UK (Moderator: Stefano Barazza (University of South Wales and JIPLP Co-Editor); Discussants: Anna Carboni (Wiggin and JIPLP Board Member), Birgit Clark (Baker & McKenzie and JIPLP Board Member), Gill Grassie (Brodies and JIPLP Board Member), Darren Meale (Simmons&Simmons and JIPLP Board Member)

18:00-19:30 - Conference ends; drinks and nibbles

Attendance is free, but registration is required. If you are interested in attending, hurry up and register here.