A generic lion is non-distinctive even to specialised public
On 5 February 2020 the General Court issued the judgements T-331/19 and T-332/19 (available only in French) and upheld the EUIPO Board of Appeal’s decision to reject the application of Balmain, the famous fashion house, for the registration of two graphic trademarks.
It all started in 2017, when Balmain tried to register two graphic trademarks depicting a lion’s head, surrounded by a ring-made chain, before EUIPO. EUIPO rejected the registration for goods in classes 14 (cufflinks and jewellery) and 26 (buttons, shoe press-studs) under the Nice Classification (link) on the absolute grounds that the trademarks were devoid of any distinctive character (Article 7, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph (b) of the Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of the European Union trade mark). Balmain appealed to the EUIPO Board of Appeal, but the appeal was rejected with decisions R 1522/2018-5 and R 1224/2018-5.
Consequently, Balmain filed an appeal before the General Court. In their appeal, Balmain argued that their goods from classes 14 and 26 under the Nice Classification are purchased by professional and highly-specialised public whose degree of attention is higher than that of the general public, which is why a lower degree of distinctiveness of their trademarks’ signs should suffice for registration. The General Court, however, was of a different opinion and explained that the high degree of attention of specialised public cannot, by itself, affect the assessment of the trademark’s distinctive character. Since there is a plethora of jewellery, cufflinks and buttons depicting the head of a lion on the market, and since Balmain trademarks’ designs did not differ from them in any significant way, the General Court upheld the EUIPO Board of Appeal’s decision to refuse the registration of the trademarks.
The Internet Archive will file an appeal against an unfair decision that ignores the value of the libraries’ work
The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization that maintains the Open Library, a digital library index, and is dedicated to preserving knowledge. As many of the works in the Internet Archive are under copyright, the Archive uses a system of controlled digital lending based on digital rights management to prevent unauthorized downloading or copying of copyrighted books. In March 2020, due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet Archive established the National Emergency Library, eliminating the waiting lists used in the Open Library and expanding access to books for all readers. In June 2020, the Emergency National Library faced a lawsuit from four book publishers and was ultimately closed.
The 43rd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (hereinafter SCCR) made substantial progress on the issues advocated by the A2K Coalition (Access to Knowledge Coalition), which IPI is a member of. This year’s session was the most productive on the issues of exceptions and limitations. James Love (Knowledge Ecology International), a long-time observer at WIPO, described the outcome and the impact of the public interest community as the strongest since the conclusion of the Marrakech Treaty, which brought global copyright exceptions for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.
Today, March 17, 2023, a symposium on law in the information society is taking place in the golden lecture hall of the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. Dr. Maja Bogataj Jančič will present copyright aspects of artificial intelligence at the symposium.
The third day of the 43rd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is intended for discussion on the topic of exceptions and limitations to copyright, especially in connection with the right to research.