In 2017, AM General LLC known for manufacturing the military vehicle known as the Humvee, sued Activision Blizzard, Inc., citing that Activision closely copied the design of the vehicle for several issues of the popular Call of Duty video game franchise, as well for repeatedly invoking the “Humvee” trademark and utilizing the vehicle and trademarks in various promotional materials.
The defendant argued that the strong protection afforded by the First Amendment warranted the dismissal of the AM General’s claims.
In April 2020, the court found, by using the Rogers Test, that Activision Blizzard’s interest in presenting military verisimilitude easily met the low bar for artistic relevance. Furthermore, by using the Polaroid Factors the court determined that Activision Blizzard’s use of Humvees was not explicitly misleading. Although some surveys did show some potential confusion amongst users, the fact that AM General was a manufacturer of vehicles and Activision Blizzard was a producer of video games heavily weighed against such assumptions.
In summary, the Court held in its decision to grant a summary judgment to Activision Blizzard against all of AM General’s claims, that “enhancing the games’ realism” was enough to determine the use of Humvees a part of the games artistic expression.
Such a case will prove helpful to art producers from all walks of life who might want to include possibly trademarked material in attempts to more closely ground their art in reality.
If you’ve received a notification of provisional refusal in response to your international trademark application from the French or Spanish national trademark offices, here you will discover what the procedures are to go against such a notification and fight to protect your IP in Spain and France.
Provisional Refusals France
In the French trademark system, the key legislative documents to keep in mind are the French IP Code and Law 2007-1544. The national French IP Office is the INPI. Once the INPI has received your application from the WIPO, it will take 6 weeks before it is published in the French Trademark Gazette. From this date, any pre-existing French trademark holder will be able to file an opposition with the Director General of the INPI.
Notice of Opposition
At this point, the applicant will be notified of the opposition, its grounds, and will be granted a time period within which to respond to the opposition. This counterstatement shall be your official argument against the opposition, so make sure that your arguments are bulletproof so that they stand up well before the INPI.
Here is a good point to highlight the importance of sticking to the deadlines placed upon you by either the INPI or the French/European trademark regulations. Often, such deadlines are non-extendable, so if you do not file the correct paperwork in the time given, your application (or opposition) will fail.
From the date of filing the opposition, the INPI must, by law, make a decision and notify the parties within 6 months. If no decision has been made, then the opposition will be rejected and the trademark application successful. This 6-month time period may be suspended if one of three situations arises:
- The INPI finds that the supposedly pre-existing French trademark was never registered
- One of the parties requests a suspension due to a claim pending before the courts
- Both parties request a suspension of three months, which can be renewed if both parties agree. This would often be due to the parties attempting to reconcile their differences and come to some sort of amicable agreement.
The first decision received will be a draft decision – technically a preliminary assessment of the matter – which then gives both parties the chance to submit their observations and further argue their claims within one month of receiving the draft decision. However, this opportunity to further argue your point, if the INPI has made an unfavourable draft decision, is in practice rarely effective in overturning the INPI’s initial decision.
Once the final decision has been made, there is a strict time period allowed for either party to appeal this decision to the French appellate courts. For French nationals, this time period is 1 month; for non-French nationals, this time period is 3 months. This is a crucial stage for the losing party, and it is their last real chance at protecting their IP in France.
It should be well noted that, in order to convince a judge that the INPI came to the wrong conclusions in their decision, your legal arguments must be very well-structured and coherent. Unless you are an experienced IP specialist, then it would be wise to hire a trustworthy IP lawyer to take you through the proceedings.
Provisional Refusals Spain
As one of the top European economies, with various strong industries such as tourism, it is a common territory to file for trademark protection. In Spain, the relevant legislation to be aware of is the Spanish Trademark Law, and the national IP office is the OEPM.
Notice of Opposition
Once an application has passed through the OEPM and has been published in the Official IP Bulletin, any pre-existing Spanish TM holder will have 2 months to file an opposition before the OEPM. Such an opposition will have to be started by filling out Model 4104, where the opponents case will be made as to why the applicant’s trademark would infringe on his pre-existing IP right. An important feature of the opposition in Spain is ability to attach a file to the Model in which you may exhaustively reason your claim. There is no limit on space or how many words may be used, therefore an experienced IP lawyer would be very useful at this stage of the trademark opposition proceedings. However, the OEPM does recommend not to be too repetitive or unclear in this file – if you go over the top, it could do more harm than good.
There are certain requirements in order for the opposition filing to be accepted by the OEPM found in article 26 of Royal Decree 1937/2004. If the filing has some sort of irregularity, don’t worry – you will be granted 10 days to remedy any defect and carry on with the opposition proceedings.
The applicant, once having received the opposition filing, will then have 2 months to file a counterstatement to the opposition, in which they will do the same as the opponent, reasoning why their Spanish trademark should be registered. Here, it is important for the applicant to understand that they have the right to withdraw or alter their application at any time. This would be wise in the case that a pre-existing Spanish trademark provides certain goods and services that seem to overlap with the goods and services described in the initial trademark application. If the applicant believes that they can commercially operate perfectly fine under a slightly different definition of the goods and services they provide, then that would be ideal. Again, the same criteria apply as for the initial opposition filing – that it be clear and concise, without repeating your arguments for the sake of filling out the form in an extensive manner. Once filed, the OEPM will then examine the claims and make a final decision, which will be notified to the parties.
This, however, is not necessarily the end of the road. If the final decision of the OEPM is unfavorable to your claim, you may still appeal against this to the Contentious-Administrative courts within a period of 1 month from the publication of the result in the Official IP Bulletin.
It must be stressed that throughout the trademark opposition proceedings, legal clarity and coherence in your arguments are of utmost importance, whether arguing before the OEPM or the Contentious-Administrative courts. Additionally, if you are to convince a judge that the OEPM made a mistake, the legal arguments must be very strong. Unless you have a vast experience in IP law and trademark protection, then it is highly recommended to make use of a specialist IP lawyer.Read More
Knowing how to register an international trademark is necessary if you operate internationally and want to protect your brand. It is the best way to ensure that the time you spent creating your brand image does not go to waste or copied by others. The protection of international trademarks is governed by the Madrid System, composed by the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol.
By following the Madrid System, you can protect your IP across the 122 countries that currently agree to mutually protect each other’s nationals’ trademarks – these countries are known as the Madrid Union.
Requirements to register an International Trademark
The requirements for an international trademark are essentially the same as for national filings. In fact, to receive international protection of your brand, you must first go through one of the national Trademark Offices of a Contracting State to the Madrid System, as we will see later on. First though, a quick recap of what can be protected under this system:
- Packaging of goods
- Smells (with specific requirements which shall not be explored here.)
A single international trademark can protect one or a variety of these concepts all at once, as long as these concepts come together to create a distinctive sign that identifies your brand and differentiates it from others.
However, it should be noted that in order to file for international protection, you must be either:
- A citizen of a Contracting State to the Madrid System
- A legal entity resident in a Contracting State
- A legal entity with a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in a Contracting State
Scope and duration of IP protection
An International Trademark will protect your brand for 10 years. After this 10-year period, you can file for a renewal, details of which will be covered later in the section titled “Follow up: IP Monitoring and TM Renewal”.
The number of countries in which it will be protected will depend entirely on your filing and where you decide to invest resources in brand protection. You can always request to add more countries to the trademark at a later date through a Territorial Expansion Application, so don’t worry if you want to start small and increase protection over time. This will cost 300 Swiss francs (CHF) plus 100 CHF per additional country. There can also be a variable element to this fee. To be sure, check out WIPO’s Fee Calculator.
How can I apply for an International Trademark?
First and foremost, to register for a trademark internationally, you must apply to a national trademark office pertaining to a Contracting State. You do not apply directly to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).
Steps of the Trademark Registration:
- Apply to the appropriate National Trademark Office
- Examination of trademark application by the WIPO
- Examination of trademark application by National Trademark Office of each requested country
Step 1: Apply to the appropriate National Trademark Office
The first step of the process entails applying to the right National Trademark Office for you. This is relatively simple to find out through a quick Google search. Below is a list of a few of the national offices with links to their websites.
- UK: IPO (Intellectual Property Office)
- Germany: DPMA (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt)
- France: INPI (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle)
- Spain: OEPM (Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas)
- Italy: UIBM (Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi)
In applying to this national office, you will have to fill in the Form MM2. Once filed, the national office will examine the application. If there are no defects to the filing, they will then pass your application to the WIPO for further examination at an international level. This will usually take up to 2 months.
Step 2: Examination of trademark application by the WIPO
Once approved by the national office, the WIPO will then take their turn to examine your application. This examination is mainly to ensure that there are no defects in the application and that you are a legitimate applicant that fulfills the requirements. Upon approval, it will be published in the WIPO’s International Trademark Gazette, and the application will then be forwarded to the national offices of every requested country.
Step 3: Examination of trademark application by the National Trademark Office of each requested country
The international trademark registration procedure essentially has the same effect as if you were to apply to register a national trademark in all of the countries’ requested. Therefore, at this stage, the relevant national trademark offices will examine your application for any faults and, importantly, any potential IP conflicts with already registered trademarks in that country.
Usually, an important part of the national procedure is to publish the application in their national gazette or bulletin and allow a time period for other trademark holders to voice their concerns. If there are any conflicts with pre-registered trademarks, the national office has one year to communicate a notification of provisional refusal – this time period can occasionally be extended to 18 months or longer.
If there is no notification of such a provisional refusal, the trademark is granted and your brand is now officially protected in that country. Congratulations!
Follow up: IP Monitoring and TM renewal
Now that you officially have a registered international trademark, you might feel like the job is over. That is unfortunately not the case. There are many companies and individuals out there who might want to copy your brand and use it for their own personal or commercial gain.
Therefore, to ensure that your hard work has not been for nothing, it is of utmost importance to establish an IP monitoring program. Fortunately, we have partnered with [insert partner’s name here with a link] so that you can rest easy knowing that you are protecting your trademark and your brand image.
It is also essential to remember that your international trademark is only protected for 10 years. Once this time period has elapsed, you need to file for a renewal. The WIPO and the vast majority of national trademark offices do not send out automatic reminders, so you should either carefully manage this or hire a trustworthy IP lawyer to ensure that you don’t wake up to find that you have to start the procedure again.
Register an International Trademark: Conclusion
Now that you know how to apply for an international trademark, protect your brand and monitor your IP, it should be noted that the actual process can take some time. Moreover, if there are mistakes in your application or a notification of provisional refusal is communicated to the WIPO or any national trademark office, that can further complicate matters and result in lengthy delays.
If you would feel safer hiring an attorney to take you through the whole procedure, you can contact us.Read More
By INPI Argentina
Moeller IP Advisors kindly informs to clients and friends that on May 27, 2019, the INPI Resolution No. 123/2019 was published, clarifying the recent modifications of our Trademark Law and its regulatory decree.
By this Resolution, the following is determined:
- Multiclass applications are not allowed. Trademark applications should be filed indicating only one class of the Nice Classification.
- The obligation of filing a Declaration of Use falls only upon trademarks and trademark renewals granted as of January 12, 2013.-
- A grace period of up until January 12, 2020 is stablished to comply with the submission of the Declaration of Use for trademarks and trademark renewals granted between January 12, 2013 and January 12, 2014.- Further information regarding the Declaration of Use may be found
- Trademark renewal applications may be filed as from 6 months prior to the expiration date and up to 6 additional months from said date.
- The notification system of our TM Office remains the same until further regulation is issued regarding electronic notifications.
- Two extension of term of 10 and 5 days is automatically granted to the ordinary 30 days term for replying to an Official Action provided that the corresponding fee is duly paid.
Important information regarding Declaration of Use in Argentina
Filing of Declaration of Use mandatory. Term
The obligation of filing a Declaration of Use (DOU) falls only upon trademarks and trademark renewals granted as of January 12, 2013.- The DOU should be filed as from the 5th anniversary of validity up until the 6th anniversary of validity, together with the payment of the corresponding fee.
Grace period for filing Declaration of Use
A grace period of up to January 12, 2020 is stablished to comply with the submission of the DOU for trademarks and trademark renewals granted between January 12, 2013 and January 12, 2014.-
If the DOU is not submitted in due time, it could be later on filed provided that an additional fee is paid or each year of delay.
Proof of use
The submission of proof of use is not required. Filing of the DOU, executed by Moeller IP in representation of their clients, is sufficient.
Use of marks
The mark that was not used in the first 5 years becomes vulnerable to cancellation due to lack of use. However, the mark would not be lost unless the cancellation is been declared at the request of a third party. The subsequent use regularizes the use situation of the mark.
If the mark is used only for some products in the class, the products that were not used would be vulnerable due to lack of use. However, this would not affect the validity of the registration for all the products it protects unless there is a cancellation request filed by a third party.
If the mark is used for products or services in other classes of the Nice Classification, this use would suffice to preserve the validity of a registration provided that said products or services are related to the class in question. The same goes in case the mark is used to designate activities related to the products or services protected by the registration.
We hope this information is clarifying and Moeller’s team remains available for any information or clarifications you may need. If you have any questions please reach out to us via email@example.com
Moeller IP Advisors to teach again a course on Latin American Trademark Law at Austral University in Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Moeller IP Advisors
Like every year since 2012, Mariano Municoy, an IP attorney and partner in charge of Business & Professional Development at Moeller IP Advisors, has been invited to teach trademark law during the Regional IP program offered by Austral University, Buenos Aires.
This unique IP program is attended in person and online by professionals from all over Latin America including people already working at the PTOs and governmental organizations of different countries in the region.
During July 2018, Municoy will teach two classes on subjects such as dealing with cancelation and nullity actions as well as protecting commercial names where recent local and regional have arisen (particularly in Argentina and Mexico).
For more information check http://www.austral.edu.ar/derecho/institucional/eventos/Read More