On 1 January 2021, the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) came into force and the general principles of EU law, existing EU treaties and EU free movement rights ceased to apply in the UK, after the transition period set out in the Withdrawal Agreement ended on 31 December 2020. Under the European Union

No doubt the famous fictional detective would have been only too happy to lend his detective skills to get to the bottom of the copyright infringement case brought by Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate against, amongst others, Netflix and the producers of the recent Netflix film, Enola Holmes. The case was dismissed in December, presumably because the parties reached a settlement, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

Background

For those who haven’t yet worked their way through all of Netflix’s recent releases, ‘Enola Holmes’ is a film based on a book by Nancy Springer, and centres around the teenage sister of the famous detective, as she goes to London in search of her mother who has disappeared.

The film was released in September 2020, but three months before that, the Conan Doyle Estate (CDE) issued legal proceedings in the USA against, amongst other defendants, Nancy Springer, Netflix and the producers of the film, for (i) copyright infringement in relation to the film’s depiction of Sherlock Holmes, and (ii) trade mark infringement in relation to the use of the ‘Holmes’ name in the film’s title.


Continue Reading Sherlock Holmes and the copyright infringement claim

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The Government has published its legislation programme for Spring 2021. The programme contains 32 bills for publication and prioritisation by the Government.

Key Bills of relevance to the data protection, commercial and technology sector include:

Bills expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny  

  • Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill – This Bill will provide for the establishment of a Media Commission (including an Online Safety Commissioner), the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, a regulatory framework to tackle the spread of harmful online content, and implementation of the revised Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive 2018/1808. The heads of Bill were published on 9 January 2020, and 8 December 2020. Member States were due to implement the revised AVMS Directive in national law by 19 September 2020, so Ireland has missed this deadline.
  • Hate Crime Bill– This Bill will repeal the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, to provide for new and aggravated offences, including an offence of incitement. The Heads of Bill are in preparation.


Continue Reading Government publishes Spring Legislative Programme

The purpose of copyright is to protect original artistic works, but Banksy is well-known for his view that “copyright is for losers”, which may well be linked to the fact that he would likely lose his anonymity by asserting copyright over his works. He has instead sought protection from commercialisation by third parties of his works through various trade mark registrations. However, a recent decision by the EUIPO has put an end to his trade mark registration protecting one of his most famous pieces of art.

Continue Reading Banksy loses EU trade mark due to “bad faith”

As we continue to adjust to new restrictions introduced by the government as a result of the pandemic, the world of trade marks has been business as usual.  In this blog, we discuss a recent decision relating to a high profile trade mark proprietor, Lionel Messi, who is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in the world.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently dismissed appeals brought by the EUIPO and a Spanish company against the judgment of the General Court authorising Lionel Messi to register the trade mark ‘MESSi’ for sports equipment and clothing. The CJEU held that there is no likelihood of confusion between the word mark MASSI and a figurative sign containing the word MESSi.


Continue Reading No likelihood of confusion between MASSI and MESSi

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has made an important ruling for brand owners, online marketplaces and retailers alike, in finding that Amazon is not liable for unwittingly stocking trade mark infringing goods on behalf of third party sellers.

Continue Reading E-commerce operators not liable for trade mark infringement for mere storage of infringing goods

In a recent case, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) considered whether a functional shape is precluded from copyright protection. The case was referred from the Commercial Court of Liège (Belgium) (C-833/18).

Background

The original case before the Commercial Court of Liège concerned a claim for copyright infringement brought by an English company, Brompton Bicycle Ltd (Brompton). Since 1987, Brompton has marketed and sold folding bicycles. The Brompton Bicycle, which was protected by a patent until 1999, has the distinct feature of having three different positions: (i) a folded position; (ii) an unfolded position; and (iii) a stand-by position enabling it to stay balanced on the ground.

When a South Korean company, Get2Get, started marketing a bicycle that could also be folded into the same three positions as the Brompton Bicycle, Brompton brought a claim for copyright infringement. In its defence, Get2Get claimed that the shape of the Brompton Bicycle could not be protected by copyright law because its appearance is dictated by the technical solution sought, which is to ensure that the bicycle can be folded into three different positions.


Continue Reading Is a functional shape precluded from copyright protection?

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The provisions of the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 (the Act), which was signed into law on 26 June 2019, were commenced on 2 December 2019.

The only provisions which are not yet in effect are sections 2(1), 9 and 21, which will automatically come into operation on 26 December (i.e. 6 months from the passing of the Act on 26 June 2019).


Continue Reading Commencement of the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019

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For the first time, the Irish High Court has been asked to make a blocking order in regard to the illegal live streaming of Premier League games. Instead of watching Premier League games through legitimate and licensed services, some people were seeking to do so free of charge. The Court granted the blocking order, requiring five Irish ISPs (including  Eir,  Sky Ireland Ltd, Sky Subscribers Services Ltd, Virgin Media Ireland Ltd  and Vodafone Ireland Ltd ) to block illegal live streaming of Premier League games.

Continue Reading High Court blocks illegal live streaming of Premier League Games

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On 29 July 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held​ that Red Bull’s signature blue and silver colour trademarks were invalid. This followed an earlier decision by the General Court of the European Union in 2017 which found that the graphic representation and description of the two colours were not sufficiently precise.

The threshold for successfully registering a trademark consisting of a single colour or combination of colours has been set purposefully high, in order to avoid situations where a large company is able to effectively monopolise a particular colour within a particular class of goods or services. A company seeking to register a colour trademark must demonstrate that their mark has acquired distinctiveness, and be able to describe it in a sufficiently clear and precise manner.


Continue Reading European Court declares Red Bull’s colour trademarks invalid