Thursday, 2 July 2015

More on Utility Models

This blogger's favorite subject seems to be Utility Model Certificates (UMCs, see previous post here), and feels a few statistics are worth noting.

In May 2014 the Kenyan patent office (KIPI) ceased substantive examination of UMCs (the announcement is on page iv of the KIPI journal linked here). All UMCs granted after that date were subjected only to a formalities examination - exactly like the patent system in South Africa.

Between July 1993 and May 2014, KIPI examined 254 applications and, from those, granted 51 UMCs. This represents a 20% allowance rate.

In the year from May 2014 to May 2015, KIPI granted 40 UMCs, all of which are unexamined for substance. Assuming that the quality of such applications is roughly unchanged, this means that 80% (about 32) of those UMCs are likely to be invalid for one reason or another.
Flood gates, opened!
(Source: Getty Images)

This blogger is currently researching whether UMCs are effective means of protecting innovations. Surely, though, the above figures ought to raise a red flag to lawmakers, IP practitioners, and, ultimately, those in businesses who might be hauled into court for infringing a UMC that has an 80% chance of being invalid....

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Overreaching surveillance in the most extreme

From Kenya comes news (here and here) that has really blown this blogger away, twice!

First, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), the government regulatory body, has issued a directive requiring that all devices using public Wi-Fi hotspots must be registered. Thus, a coffee shop or hotel patron using the free Wi-Fi with a laptop or smartphone must register the device with the CA, using a phone number and/or a national ID number. The Wi-Fi providers are also required to assign a unique IP address to all users so that all internet traffic can be linked to the specific device and user.

Second, the CA also intends to require that all businesses registered in Kenya must acquire a .ke (dot ke) domain address.
Big Brother really is watching...
Source: Getty Images

Oh, how are these mandates misguided?  Let me count the ways!

Problem #1: how will CA verify the information that is provided?  There are databases of national ID numbers, but some users such as tourists won't have a national ID. Does that mean I can enter my passport number, including a made-up number?

Problem #2: this will create a vast database of user information. How confident are we that the government will keep such information secure?  In fact, centralized storage of such information only makes cybercrime easier for the criminals - with a single hack, mountains of personal ID data can be obtained, and we all know that the Kenyan government websites are targets for attack (e.g., Kenya's military Twitter account).

Problem #3: will this Directive achieve the stated goals of reducing the risk from cyberterrorism, terrorists using Wi-Fi access, and cybercrime? This blogger thinks not, unless the CA knows how to overcome anonymizing tools such as Tor, VPNs, and encryption. (Comments from tech-savvy readers on this point are most welcome.)

Problem #4: what happens if the .ke domain for my business name is already taken? Then I'm forced to register something that is irrelevant or not as relevant? And, am I forced to maintain such registry and pay yearly renewal fees? What happens if the domain lapses?

Problem #5: rarely does a business want a .ke domain when the same .com or .org domain name is also available. So for those users, this directive merely increases the cost and red tape of doing business in Kenya. For the remaining users, this directive will make no difference as they would have registered the .ke in any case.

Problem #6: the intrusion into personal privacy by this directive speaks for itself. This blogger wonders about the legality of the directive. Article 31(c) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that every person has the right to privacy, including the right not to have information related to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed. This is, essentially, mass surveillance of the Snowden variety, and this blogger cannot believe that such surveillance is not unnecessary (particularly when 99+% of the monitored activities are likely to be legitimate).

This blogger is not aware of any country on earth that has either of these requirements - either in black letter law or in practice. If any reader knows of such a country, do share!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Uganda JAVA TM case in #SandtonDiscussion

Apologies for the late notice of this week's #SandtonDiscussion which focuses on the recent decision in the trade mark opposition by Mandela Auto Spares against the attempt to register trade marks in class 43 (restaurant services) containing the word JAVA by Nairobi Java House Limited on the basis of rights in the word JAVAS and CAFE JAVAS. It's a very interesting case that looks at the nature of the word JAVA for restaurant services in Uganda, the test for likelihood of confusion  and structure of opposition proceedings. It is also an example of the increasing sophistication of decision making on the continent. The Assistant Registrar references local and European law in determining the opposition.

The case can be found here and the discussion will be lead by none other than Lita Miti-Qamata. Tune in at 9CAT on Twitter -  #SandtonDiscussion.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Etraction up next in #sandtondiscussion

Monday's #SandtonDiscussion arranged by Lita is lead by Stephen Hollis (@orcagunslinger) and covers the recent appeal court decision in Etraction and the detail over prior use defenses.

The case was neatly summarised here by Jeremy Speres who will also be joining the conversation. It should be another good one and you also are very welcome to take part over twitter using the #sandtondiscussion.

I must mention a word of caution though; speed tweeting during these sessions can easily lead to spelling mistakes so please be careful when using "etraction" and "use" or "prior use", the auto-correct combination can truly be scandalous (as I found out just a moment ago)!

Last week's discussion really was interesting. We were joined by none other then Julius Stobbs of Stobbs IP who provided some excellent insight into how UK practitioners are structuring their questionnaires and advertising to show/explain that shapes are not merely recognised as distinctive features but function as independent trade marks. John Ndlovu did a great job canvassing the tricky terrain between South African case law and that of Europe. Some highlights include:

Friday, 12 June 2015

The Kit Kat shape mark opinion in the EU - #sandtondiscussion

Monday's discussion takes us north to the Court of Justice of the European Union which provided its opinion this week on whether the shape of Nestle's almost century old Kit-Kat bar is registrable as a trade mark. There's more to it then that (there always is) and there is also the recent SCA judgment in South Africa upholding rights in the famous three dimensional wafer, which has seemingly contradicted a line of English decisions on the point. Why is this so? Find out on Monday.

The case discussion, coordinated by Lita, is being lead by John Ndlovu and we have a special guest appearance from leading UK firm Stobbs to give some context from a European perspective. All in all it should be a good discussion between 9am-10am CAT on Monday 15th. As usual you can follow the discussion or tweet in questions using the hashtag #sandtondiscussion on twitter.

Some action from this last Monday's discussion:

struggle images and copyright

I have struggle images and copyright on my mind as South Africa heads into into a long weekend. Tuesday 16 June is youth day and the fortunate amongst us will take Monday off  and enjoy a four day hiatus from the office.  The events that unfolded on the 16th of June 1976 were recorded in various ways, the most striking of which is Sam Nzima's photo of Hector Pieterson (below).
source: Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum 

Sam Nzima
source: The Citizen 
Mr Nzima  took the photo within the course of his employment by The World which was then owned by the Argus Group, so copyright resided in his employer. It was only in 1998 when the Argus Group was purchased by the Independent Newspapers Group that copyright was assigned to him. By his own account here and here he did not, and does not, want to seek royalties from those who used his photo, particularly in the fight against apartheid. In any event, he could only seek royalties for post-1998 usage, when he acquired copyright. Prior to that date, the Argus Group had economic exclusivity over the photo. It appears that since 1998 Mr Nzima has received no royalties from the use of his photo. He continues to lead a modest life in Lillydale, where he fled in fear for his life in 1976, leaving his photojournalist days behind. His iconic photograph is usually attributed to him, but sometimes it is published without attribution. So when you see this photograph over the next few days, spare a thought for photojournalists, like Mr Nzima, who risk their lives whilst capturing these gripping images. And maybe we need to talk about copyright in the employment context, but wait, that's another post....

For other photojournalist's copyright struggles read about Jurgen Schadeberg's long-running dispute with Little Brown here (1995),  here (2005) and here

Monday, 8 June 2015

Kenyan IP update

Coulson Harney which is a member of the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group have published their monthly IP newsletter packed with news on intellectual property in Kenya and abroad. Some nuggets from John Syekei's group this month include that:

  • members of the Kenyan Boys Choir successfully cancelled a registration for KENYA BOYS CHOIR in the name of Joseph Inzai on the basis that he had no legal claim to the trade mark
  • the High Court reached a controversial decision in Nonny Gathoni Njenga v Catherine Masitsa, Standard Group and Bauhaus ltd effectively extending copyright protection to TV formats, and in particular format shifting
  • the Nairobi High Court upheld the mandate of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) to conduct investigations
  • the ACA is now chaired by Polycarp Igathe
  • that the Weetabix trade mark matter has now been settled out of court
  • Time Warner attempted to enforce a Madrid Protocol registration against a local sweet manufacturer using the Ben 10 trade mark, which ultimately lead to an out of court settlement
  • British America Tobacco has attempted stop the implementation of certain plain paper tobacco regulations in Kenya
  • there has been a study on patent, utility model and industrial design activity from 1990 to 2014 released in March 2015 by the Scinnovent Centre which highlighted certain "bottlenecks" to obtaining IP rights in Kenya, including that lack of responses by examiners at KIPI, failure to submit required fees, withdrawals by applicants and poor drafting of applications.
  • Ruma Lodge had sued the Music Copyright Society of Kenya for malicious prosecution, but lost
You can read it in full here.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Tales from a Kenyan Patent Agent: the Utility Model, friend or foe?

This blogger has taken a bit of a hiatus, but welcomes the inspiration to write about his favorite subject: Utility Model Certificates (UMCs). Specifically, from an IP practitioner perspective, let's investigate whether UMCs are the inventors best friend or the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.
Halt! Who goes there?
(Getty Images) 

Inventors seeking to patent are inevitably faced with a decision - go for a patent, or go for a UMC? Both options have pros and cons, and the decision is always case specific.

The great part about a patent (in Kenya, or ARIPO, at least), is that the patent office does a substantive examination. The patent is therefore very likely to be assumed valid by a court in infringement proceedings. Indeed, there are patent cases in Kenya where the judge refuses to address whether the patent is valid, stating that the patent office is the venue for such analysis. This, of course, is quite different from litigation in most developed countries, where patent validity is part of nearly every patent trial. It is also, in this blogger's opinion, a reasonable decision by any judge that does not have the technical or legal expertise to judge the validity of a patent.

The drawback about a patent application is, lo!, that the patent office does a substantive examination. Thus a patent applicant takes the risk that the patent office will reject the application, leaving him/her with absolutely nothing but a patent application publication (which, it must be said, discloses the invention and exposes the applicant to further copycatting!).

The great part about a UMC is that there is no substantive examination. (There used to be substantive examination in Kenya, but this practice has stopped.) So a UMC applicant is guaranteed to get a UMC. This is true for UMCs in most countries around the world, and is essentially equivalent to the registration system of patenting in South Africa.

The (huge) drawback about a UMC is (lo, again!) that there is no substantive examination. So, when the applicant gets the granted UMC, s/he has no idea whether it's valid and would stand up in a court proceeding. Should I sue an infringer? Will it be a waste of money since the UMC is likely invalid?  Is the court going to even address validity? These are the questions that will forever plague a UMC holder. A patentability search/analysis can give some idea of the likely outcome, but is by no means a guarantee.

Then of course is the option to apply for a patent, and convert the application to a UMC application if the examination is negative. This seems an attractive option but is quite risky - if the examination is negative, then the resulting UMC will have a file history explaining to any future judge exactly why the application was not novel and/or not inventive.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.....

Media24 V Oxford University Press - copyright and competing dictionaries

A fascinating copyright case involving the art of dictionary making has come before an African court for the first time and will form the next discussion in Lita's #SandtonDiscussion broadcast on Twitter on Monday between 9am and 10am (GMT+1) and covered by this blog.

"The question of plagiarism or infringement of copyright poses particular problems in dictionary publishing, distinct from those faced by the general publisher. Personnel at all levels of the dictionary-making process from the company’s lawyers to project managers and even low-level freelance compilers- may from time have to make decisions as to what constitutes, and what does not constitute, an unacceptable degree of copying from previously published dictionaries. Prima facie cases of plagiarism may manifest themselves in many different aspects of the dictionary text: conventions of presentation, the headword list, definition style, not to mention the actual content of particular definitions, examples, translations, and illustrations.

The core of the problem resides in the fact that all lexicographers working in a given language (or between two given languages) are covering essentially the same body of knowledge. Given that this body of knowledge is itself linguistic in nature, and that it is usually incumbent upon the lexicographer to produce a text which documents often by way of example typical meanings and usages, it is probably inevitable that dictionaries of broadly similar scope and aims will contain comparable stretches of text that show a degree of similarity unacceptable in other areas of publishing. Off course, some leeway is provided by the fact that dictionaries come in different shapes and sizes with different markets in mind, and each will carve out its own particular section of langue appropriate to its own purposes. However, the problem becomes particularly acute when a publisher sets out to produce a direct competitor to an already existing dictionary in terms of size, number of headwords, and general focus of coverage.

Given that most working lexicographers continually consult other dictionaries as a matter of routine it is important that all personnel involved in the dictionary-making process should be in a position to decide, on some kind of systematic and uniform basis, what kinds of copying, if any, are acceptable, and which are not. This is desirable not only in terms of the strict legal requirements of copyright, but also on professional and ethical grounds.” @para 75 of the judgment

Nic Rosslee
Nicholas Rosslee will be leading the discussion on Media24's attempt to halt Oxford University Press's competing bilingual Afrikaans/English dictionary, and the usual culprits ( ) will be supplying commentary. But of course, that could include you - please feel free to chime in before, during or after the Monday using the #SandtonDiscussion.

Some action from this week's discussion:

New plant varieties in Sub-Sarahan Africa -- an article

Vol.14 issue 3 of the Bio-Science Law Review, published by Lawtext, contains an article of substantial relevance to readers of this weblog. It's "Intellectual Property Protection of New Varieties of Plants in Sub-Saharan Africa: Overview of Existing Regimes (Part 1)" by Marcelin Tonye Mahop, Aprinah Magarinah Shikoli and Alhaji Tejan-Cole. According to the abstract:
Innovation: getting hotter in Africa ...
"The 1994 WTO TRIPs Agreement requires WTO members, except least developed countries (for the time being if they do not want to) to provide some form of intellectual property protection to plant varieties, but does not oblige them to utilise a specific IP tool (between patents or sui generis Plant Breeders' Rights) for such protection. In this article, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has sought to provide an overview of the approaches adopted by 33 jurisdictions across Africa for the protection of new varieties of plants using either a sui generis system (UPOV-based or not) or the patent system. These jurisdictions include the two main African regional intellectual property organizations, the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) and its English-language counterpart, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and 31 national regimes for plant variety protection in Africa. Part 2 of the article will appear in the next issue of the journal".
The sequel, in Vol.14 issue 4, is unsurprisingly entitled "Intellectual Property Protection of New Varieties of Plants in Sub-Saharan Africa: Overview of Existing Regimes (Part 2)".

It's good to see a journal like the BioSLR carrying materials on Africa, since there is a feeling in some quarters that the continent is merely a repository for old varieties which pharma companies and others target for bio-prospecting purposes, rather than a place from which innovation springs.

Egypt, Japan launch patent prosecution highway

Afro Leo learns from the latest (May 2015) AGIP Bulletin that the Egyptian Patent Office and the Japanese Patent Office have agreed to commence a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme, in order to accelerate the patent grant procedures. The programme actually started this week, on 1 June 2015.

The PPH pilot programme will let Egyptian patent attorneys file requests for accelerated examination, upon request of the Japanese applicant, on the condition that the Egyptian Patent Office has acknowledged patentability of the invention, as well as receiving the necessary documents related to the patent application filed at the Egyptian Patent Office.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Can you help Kingsley?

Our good friend and dedicated purveyor of the African IP missive, Mr Kingsley Egbuonu, is currently researching an article which will highlight IP's most influential people for leading publication Managing Intellectual Property. He would love to have a case for at least 5 influential people from Africa, to put to his editor.  Typically he is looking for non private practice individuals of substantial standing and influence in the IP sector in Africa. All recommendations to Kingsley's contact details here.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Guidance on trade mark prior use defence - Etraction v Tyrecor on appeal

Just over a year ago, we reported on a rather confusing trade mark infringement and expungement judgement of the Western Cape High Court in Etraction v Tyrecor. I also promised to report the appeal judgement once delivered, which I now regret just a little given that it meant I had to compile this report on the appeal in the early hours of a freezing Cape Town winter’s morn.
Nevertheless, the SCA’s appeal judgement was an interesting read, mostly for the things it did not decide, but also because of Judge Wallis’ apparent fondness for the phrase “There is not a jot or tittle of evidence…” which he’s used not once but twice in the space of two months.

Briefly, the appellant had claimed that the respondent was infringing its registration for INFINITY in respect of tyres and wheels.  The respondent relied on the section 36 “prior use” defence but also counter-claimed for expungement of the mark on the basis of, amongst others, section 27(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Act.

The most significant points to take from this judgement are:

1.   It appears to be the first time the SCA has weighed in on the debate about whether an unregistered mark is assignable separately from the goodwill of the business – see para 11.22 in Webster & Page.  The SCA (at para 14) sided with the High court in the Butterworths case where it was held that this is not possible, contra to indications in the Incledon case of the opposite position;

2.   In a footnote (10) the SCA questioned (without deciding) its previous finding in the Caterham case to the effect that only a reputation and not goodwill or custom in South Africa is required to found a claim of passing off. This was in light of the recent ruling of the UK Supreme Court in the Starbucks case reported yesterday on this blog by Ian Learmonth, where the contrary view was taken;

3.   The court gave credence to the statements in Webster & Page at para 15.18.1 to the effect that it is possible for a distributor (as opposed to the manufacturer) to acquire a reputation and goodwill in the name or get-up of the distributed goods in certain circumstances (see para 18);

4.   A broad meaning is to be ascribed to the words “predecessor in title” appearing in section 36. In particular, the SCA was prepared to accept in this case that the respondent was a predecessor in title of the previous user of the mark despite there being no apparent formal assignment of goodwill or sale of business documentation; and

5.   Without deciding the point, the court gave firm support to the view that one is not required to prove prior use giving rise to a reputation in order to rely on the section 36 prior use defence, but merely bone fide and continuous use.

All in all a great read touching on quite a few tricky issues.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Starbucks v British Sky Broadcasting 2015 UKSC 31

Now... this is Ian (ed)
This is a guest post by Ian Learmonth, following the discussion he lead last week on the case (see further commentary using the hashtag #SandtonDiscussion) especially as it relates to South Africa and other common law jurisdictions heavily influenced by developments in English law.

"This case considers whether a passing off claim in the United Kingdom requires the plaintiff to show that it has customers in the territory concerned, or whether simply having a reputation is sufficient. The plaintiff is the operator of an Internet based television company in Hong Kong, under the brand NOW TV. The services they offer require hardware which is not available in the UK and it was common cause that its core services could not be accessed from the UK. However, a large number of members of the Chinese speaking community in the UK are aware of the brand through past exposure while abroad. Some content generated by the plaintiff was freely available via the plaintiff's website and on YouTube, but this material is primarily intended to promote its services in Hong Kong.

Now ..,this is Sky (ed\)
The defendant launched an Internet based television service under the brand NOW. The Court accepted that the marks were likely to cause confusion, but noted that the plaintiff, despite having a reputation in the UK, had no customers and therefore no goodwill. It was held that the existing English common law required goodwill in the territory. However, the Court was called on to develop the common law to recognize that reputation could substitute for goodwill in light of modern communication and business practices.

The Court conducted a fairly thorough examination of the approach to the requirement of goodwill in other common law jurisdictions. It noted that in Ireland, New Zealand and Canada, the requirement for goodwill was still strictly applied. In Australia and South Africa courts have recognized that reputation alone is sufficient to support a claim for passing off. In Hong Kong and Singapore recent jurisprudence has wavered slightly but both have concluded that goodwill remains a requirement. It should be noted that in Singapore it has been held that reputation created through a large scale pre-launch marketing campaign may be sufficient to attract protection on the basis of passing off.
Now ...this is Starbucks (ed)

In reaching its decision the Court decided that a plaintiff must have customers in a jurisdiction, who access the service in that jurisdiction; in other words it is not sufficient for a plaintiff to show that individuals are present in the jurisdiction who make use of its services outside of the jurisdiction. However, the Court did recognize that customers who are able to book the services within the jurisdiction, should be considered as customers, even if the factual use of the service only occurs outside the jurisdiction.

The Court also noted that consideration must be given to issues of public policy. It specifically drew attention to the fact that a balance must be drawn between the public interest in free competition and the need to protect a trader from unfair competition. It was acknowledged that where a business has been advertised but not marketed no benefit has been provided to the public.

In interpreting the common law, the Court also considered the impact of legislation which protects foreign well known trade marks. It noted that such legislation is put in place precisely to protect foreign brands from abuse where they are not used within a jurisdiction, provided the necessary requirements are met. The defendant argued that the existence of legislative (provided certain criteria are met) militates against providing broader common law protection. The Court noted that this argument had strong force, although ultimately it was not required to make a decision on this argument.

Ultimately, the Court held that reputation, in the absence of goodwill in the form of customers, was not sufficient to sustain a claim of passing off. The Court explicitly left open the question of whether reputation generated by a marketing campaign in advance of an imminent business launch would attract protection."

Friday, 29 May 2015

Misuse of trade secrets and more #SandtonDiscussion - JRMM Technologies v Ball

This Monday's 9am (GMT+2) #SandtonDiscussion arranged by Lita is being lead by Reinhardt Biermann who will cover the recent case of JRMM Technologies v Ball involving:

  • misuse of trade secrets, passing off and confidential information
  • decisions between action and application court procedures
  • the importance of choosing business partners correctly
  • how not to spend your start up funds
all in the context of a new business for importing and distributing rock crushing equipment for use in mines. And if you think there is nothing secret about a rock crusher check this out.

The #SandtonDiscussion hashtag enables to you comment on, partake and follow previous discussions even after they have taken place. 

Some action from this week (if there is nothing below then the embed is not working, please check the blog):

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Comments on South Africa's Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Systems Bill, 2014

Since the call for comments on this bill (noted here), the following comments have been published:

  1. The International Trademark Association (INTA)'s comments are available here 
  2. The UCT IP Unit  has posted comments (here) co-authored by Tobias Schonwetter (UCT),  Lesle Jansen (Natural Justice) and Laura Foster (Indiana University). 
  3. The Anton Mostert Chair in IP at Stellenbosch University has posted comments by Sadulla Karjiker (here) and Madeline Kleyn (here)  

Amongst other concerns, INTA notes the potential negative impact of  a 'the co-existence of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions with trademark rights' and implores the creation of a system that is 'consistent with the well-established intellectual property principles of territoriality, exclusivity, priority, and notice' (p. 1). All the other comments are unanimous in their  view that the sui generis approach to the protection of TK advanced by the bill is a better approach than that provided for by the IP Laws Amendment Act. However, they all point out concerns about the Bill in its current form. In my view, one of the most pressing of these is how this Bill, if it it passed, will relate to the IP protection provided by the various IP statutes as amended by the IP Laws Amendment Act. The UCT IP Unit submission notes that South Africa will have a mixed approach [that offers the option of either IP or sui generis protection] that may cause tensions 'among and within indigenous communities' about the selection of  protection for their TK (p. 3).    Dr Kleyn, on the other hand, is of the view that such a mixed approach is not feasible because 'the two separate systems of protection for IK provided for in these two pieces of legislation cannot co-exist.' Therefore she recommends that the 'IKS Bill should upon promulgation repeal the IPLA Act' (p. 14). 

It will be interesting to see how discussions on this Bill develop both in and outside parliament.
For more discussion, see Linda Daniels 'A Cautious Welcome For South Africa’s Traditional Knowledge Legislation'

Friday, 22 May 2015

Join us on Twitter for the #SandtonDiscussion every Monday

For the past eight months Afro Leo has been attending internal discussion sessions on IP managed and run by Lita Mita-Qamata. These discussions, presented on a rotational basis, cover the latest and most relevant trade mark cases in local and foreign courts. Other participants include John Ndlovu, Ian Learmonth, Nic Rosslee, Maureen Thuto MakokoEric Mashida and Reinhardt Biermann.

You are now also invited to join us each Monday at 09:00 GMT + 2 by tracking the conversation at #SandtonDiscussion on Twitter and contributing. What will happen is as follows:
  •  each Friday we will communicate the case intended for discussion on the Monday
  •  the leader of the discussion will prepare and present on the Monday
This Monday's case will that of the recent UK Supreme Court decision  Starbucks (HK) Limited v British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC which makes direct reference to the South African Caterham trade mark decision in deciding a case involving internet protocol television. Find out how South African law of passing off differs from that in force in the UK, and what effect this may have on common law jurisdictions in Africa.

The case will be presented by Ian.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

ARIPO, OAPI attend INTA in San Diego -- but there is still further to go

This year's International Trademark Association (INTA) Meeting in San Diego, California, is now over and the nearly 10,000 registrants are wending their way home.  For many of our African colleagues this means taking two or three flights and experiencing a second major bout of jetlag in a single week. Afro Leo wishes them all a safe trip home and hopes that the experience was a positive one for them.

It is good to see Africa being represented at INTA not only by the many practitioners who have put aside their daily workload in order to travel and participate.  Both ARIPO and OAPI (in alphabetical order) took display booths in the INTA Exhibit Hall and were able to provide useful advice to those who sought it.

ARIPO now has 19 member states, plus 12 states with observer status, while OAPI has 17.  This is very encouraging, for those of us who remember what things were like 30 or 40 years ago, but it indicates that Africa as a regional concept still has a considerable distance to travel if it is able to achieve the sort of functional efficiency and cost-saving that is enjoyed by other regions in the world. Let's hope that we won't have to wait too long to see those benefits.