Aylar: Haziran 2016

Barcelona Bu Kez Kaybetti! Adalet Divanı Genel Mahkemesi “KULE” Kararı (T-614/14 )

cules

 

Haziran 2016’da Türkiye’nin çoğunluğu gecelerini Avrupa Futbol Şampiyonası’nı, sıkıldıklarında da Survivor’ı izleyerek (tersi de olabilir) geçiyor diye düşünüyorum. Türk Milli Futbol takımının gaz, milli duyguları körükleme gayreti, gazeteci fırçalama ve mimik gücü üzerine kurulu efsanevi performansı benim için pek şaşırtıcı olmadı, gene de halen –takım demiyorum- mevcut tek adamdan beklentisi olanlar varsa, onlara ilerleyen yıllarda bol sabır diliyorum. Yeter ki başarısızlık bahanesi olarak milli takıma düşman olanları tespit etme çabası içerisine girdiklerinde, sırayı kendi hallerindeki insanlara da getirmesinler.

Başlıktan tahmin ettiğiniz gibi, bu yazının konusunu oluşturan davanın taraflarından biri bir futbol kulübü, hatta dünyanın en bilinen ve popüler futbol kulübü. Ülke gündemi bugünlerde kısmen futbol üzerine kurulmuşken, futbolla bağlantılı bir yazı yazmasam IPR Gezgini’nin gündemle paralel ilerleme iddiasına aykırı davranmış olacaktım.

Tanıyanlar bilir, iyi bir BJK taraftarıyım ve yurtdışında önde gelen liglerin neredeyse tamamında desteklediğim takımlar var. Yurtdışında desteklediğim takımların çoğunluğunu ne kadar başarılı olduklarına göre seçmedim, bu zamana kadar biriktirdiğim algı ve bilgi bu seçimlerde belirleyici oldu. Desteklediğim takımlar zaman içerisinde değişebiliyor, ancak değişmeyen şeylerden birisi büyük bir “Barcelona FC” hater’ı olduğum gerçeği. Barcelona Futbol Kulübü’ne olumsuz yaklaşımım Real Madrid taraftarı olmamdan değil (kralcı değilim), Barcelona’nın Katalan vurgusunu ön plana tutmasına dayalı (bana göre) ayırımcı doğasından kaynaklanıyor. Her ne kadar, İspanyol İç Savaşı sonrası Franco döneminde Barcelona diktatörlüğe karşı direnişin sembolü haline gelmişse de, içinde bulunulan dönemde ayırımcı milliyetçiliğin simgesi haline dönüşmüş bir yapıyı desteklemek bana pek doğru gelmiyor. Aşırı zengin ve çokça harcayan bu gibi kulüpler karşısında daha mütevazi kulüpleri desteklemeyi tercih ediyorum (birkaç tanesi aşağıda yer alıyor).

 

stpauli

combatti

stetienne

 

Görece uzun girişin ardından yazıda aktarmaya çalışacağım davaya gelecek olursak:

Avrupa Birliği Adalet Divanı Genel Mahkemesi, 16 Haziran 2016 tarihinde verdiği sayılı “KULE” kararında ilana itiraz gerekçesi markaların önceki kullanımı ve bundan kaynaklanan tanınmışlığı gerekçeleri bağlamında bir Avrupa Birliği markasının ilanına karşı yapılan itirazın reddedilmesi üzerine açılan davayı değerlendirmiştir. Merak eden okuyucularımızın kararın tam metnine http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=9ea7d2dc30d5f9286a7c54d64cab8991dd24b0c8c69d.e34KaxiLc3qMb40Rch0SaxuTax90?text=&docid=180281&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=87087 bağlantısından erişimi mümkündür.

A.B.D. menşeili “KULE LLC” firması 22 Nisan 2011 tarihinde “KULE” kelime markasını tescil ettirmek için Avrupa Birliği Fikri Mülkiyet Ofisi (EUIPO, eski adıyla OHIM)’ne başvuruda bulunur. Başvuru kapsamında 14. sınıfta yer alan “mücevherat ve saatler”, 18. sınıfta yer alan “çanta, cüzdan, şemsiye, valiz, baston, deri ve deri taklitleri” ve 25. sınıfta yer alan “giysiler, ayak giysileri ve baş giysileri” malları yer almaktadır.

KULE

Başvuru ilk incelemenin ardından kabul edilerek ilan edilir. İlana karşı “Futbol Club Barcelona” yani BARCELONA FC, 2 Kasım 2011 tarihinde itiraz eder ve başvurunun reddedilmesini talep eder.

BARCELONA FC’nin itirazı İspanya’da belirtilen mallar için 20-23 yıldır tescilli “CULE” markalarına, EUIPO’da tescilli olmayan “CULE” markasının tanınmışlığı, kullanımı iddialarına dayandırılmıştır. Bu noktada “culé” ibaresinin Barcelona futbol takımının taraftarlarına veya sporcularına verilen takma isim olduğu da belirtilmelidir.

EUIPO itiraz birimi ilana itirazı reddeder ve bu karara karşı yapılan itiraz neticesinde konu EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu önüne taşınır.

EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu, 18 Haziran 2014 tarihinde verdiği kararla itirazı reddeder. Temyiz Kurulu itirazı reddederken takip eden gerekçelere dayanmıştır: İtiraz sahibi sunduğu dokümanlarla itiraz gerekçesi markaların gerçek kullanımını gösterememiştir, itiraz sahibine verilen süre içinde sunulmayan ve sonradan gönderilen dokümanların gerçek kullanım iddiasının incelenmesine esas teşkil etmesi mümkün değildir ve itiraz sahibi kendisine verilen süre içerisinde itiraz gerekçesi markaların İspanya’da iyi bilinir markalar olduğunu ispatlayamamıştır.

Barcelona FC bu karara karşı dava açar ve dava Adalet Divanı Genel Mahkemesi’nce T-614/14 sayıyla görülüp 16 Haziran 2016 tarihinde karara bağlanır. T-614/14 sayılı kararda yer alan temel hususlar yazının devamında bilgilerinize sunulmaktadır.

Barcelona FC’nin taleplerinden ilki başvurunun Genel Mahkeme tarafından reddedilmesidir. Bu talep Genel Mahkeme’nin dava sonucunda EUIPO’ya başvurunun reddedilmesi yönünde talimat vermesi anlamına gelmektedir. Genel Mahkeme bu talebi yerleşik içtihadı uyarınca reddeder, şöyle ki mahkemenin görevi EUIPO’ya talimat vermek değildir. Tersine EUIPO, Genel Mahkeme kararlarını inceleyip ve hükme ilişkin kısımlarını dikkate alarak uygun işlemleri yapmakla yükümlüdür. Bu nedenle, başvurunun Genel Mahkeme tarafından reddedilmesi içerikli talep kabul edilmemiştir.

Takiben, Barcelona FC’nin EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu’nun kararının iptal edilmesi içerikli talebi incelenmiştir.

Mahkeme, davacının EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu’na sunmayıp ilk kez mahkeme önüne getirdiği dokümanları incelenebilir nitelikte bulmamıştır. Şöyle ki, Genel Mahkeme’nin görevi, EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu kararlarının hukuka uygunluğunun incelenmesidir ve bu inceleme söz konusu kararların alınmasına dayanak unsurlar ve ilgili dönemdeki mevzuat dikkate alınarak gerçekleştirilmelidir. Mahkeme, EUIPO’ya sunulmayıp ilk kez kendi önüne getirilen dokümanları değerlendirerek esasa ilişkin yeniden inceleme yapmak gibi bir işleve sahip değildir. Dolayısıyla, bu tip dokümanlar mahkeme incelemesine esas teşkil etmemiştir.

Devamında esasa ilişkin değerlendirmeye geçilmiştir.

Genel Mahkeme içtihadına göre, AB Marka Tüzüğü süresi içerisinde sunulmayan ek dokümanları dikkate alıp almamak konusunda EUIPO’ya geniş bir takdir yetkisi vermektedir. Dolayısıyla incelenmesi gereken EUIPO’nun bu yetkisini yerinde bir biçimde kullanıp kullanmadığıdır.

EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu’nun süresi içinde sunulmayan delilleri dikkate almama gerekçeleri, incelemenin gelinen aşamasında bu delilleri dikkate almanın mümkün olmaması ve buna ilaveten süresi içinde sunulmayan ek delillerin önceki markaların kullanım zamanı, yeri ve yoğunluğu gibi hususları göstermemesidir. Bu çerçevede süresi içinde sunulmayan deliller, inceleme konusu mallarla alakalı olarak kabul edilebilir nitelikte değildir. Bu hususlar Temyiz Kurulu kararında da belirtilmiş haldedir. Dolayısıyla, Temyiz Kurulu süresi içinde sunulmayan delilleri dikkate alıp almama hususunda kendisine tanınan yetkiyi yerinde biçimde kullanmıştır ve davacının aksi yöndeki iddiası kabul edilmemiştir.

Davacının diğer iddiası, EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu’nun kendisine sunulan ve kullanımı gösteren dokümanları incelerken hata yaptığı yönündedir.

Davacıya göre sunulan dokümanlar, Barcelona FC’nin itiraz gerekçesi markalarla özdeşleşmiş olduğunu ve kendisinden lisans almış kişilerce inceleme konusu mallara ilişkin olarak yaygın biçimde kullandığını göstermek için yeterlidir.

AB marka mevzuatına göre (2868/95 sayılı Tüzük madde22(3)), kullanım için sunulan kanıtların önceki markanın kullanım yeri, zamanı, miktarı ve biçimi hakkında bilgileri içermesi gerekmektedir.

Bir markanın gerçek kullanımından, ancak markanın esas işlevini, yani tescile konu mallar veya hizmetlerin kaynağını garanti etme işlevini yerine getirebilecek biçimde kullanılması halinde bahsedilebilir. Tek amacı markadan kaynaklanan hakları sürdürme olan simgesel kullanım (token use) gerçek kullanım olarak kabul edilemez.

Bir markanın kullanımının gerçek kullanım olup olmadığı değerlendirilirken, markanın ticari kullanımını oluşturan tüm faktörler ve durumlar, özellikle de malların ve hizmetlerin niteliği, ilgili piyasanın özellikleri, markanın kullanım sıklığı ve kullanımın ilgili ekonomik sektörde mallar ve hizmetler için pazar oluşturma veya pazar payı yaratma etkilere sahip olması gibi hususlar dikkate alınmalıdır.

Önceki markanın kullanımının büyüklüğü (ölçüsü) değerlendirilirken, bir taraftan markanın kullanımının ticari boyutu, diğer taraftan da markanın kullanımının zaman olarak uzunluğu ve sıklığı dikkate alınmalıdır.

Markanın gerçek kullanımı olasılıklar ve varsayımlarla ispatlanamaz, markanın etkili ve yeterli kullanımı, markanın ilgili piyasadaki kullanımına ilişkin somut ve objektif delillerle ispatlanabilir.

İnceleme konusu vakadaki kullanım iddiası da yukarıda yer verilen ilkeler çerçevesinde değerlendirilmelidir.

İncelenen vakada kullanıma ilişkin olarak dikkate alınacak 5 yıllık süre, davaya konu marka başvurusunun Topluluk Marka Bülteni’nde yayınlandığı 3 Ağustos 2011 tarihi esas alınarak saptanmalıdır.

Davacı kullanıma ilişkin olarak aşağıda özetlenen kanıtları sunmuştur: Bir İspanyolca sözlükte yer alan “culé” kelimesinin tanımı, İspanya’da sporla ilgili web sitelerinden alınmış 5 çıktı (bu çıktılarda Barcelona FC’ye ve “culés” olarak anılan oyuncu ve taraftarlarına referans yapılmaktadır), Barcelona FC’ye ve “culé çekilişine” referans yapan bir web sitesi çıktısı, Wikipedia’dan alınan bir çıktı (burada kulübün taraftarlarına “culé(s)” takma adının verildiği belirtilmektedir), İspanya’daki web sitelerinden alınmış benzer bilgileri içeren 2 diğer çıktı ve bir Google arama sayfası çıktısı (culé kelimesinin araması sonucunda çıkan 5 sonuçtan ikisi bir online sözlüğe, ikisiyse Barcelona futbol kulübüne referans yapmaktadır).

EUIPO Temyiz Kurulu kararında, yukarıda belirtilen delillerin dava konusu markanın kapsadığı mallar için kullanımı göstermediklerini, dolayısıyla gerçek kullanıma kanıt teşkil etmeyeceklerini belirtmiştir. Kurul’a göre deliller, sadece Barcelona FC’ye referans yapmakta ve “culé” kelimesinin bu kulübün taraftar veya oyuncularını işaret etmek için kullanılan bir terim olduğunu göstermektedir.

Genel Mahkeme, yukarıda sayılan delilleri tek tek kısaca değerlendirmiş ve delillerin davaya konu mallar bakımından davacının gerçek kullanımını gösterir deliller olmadığına hükmetmiştir. Mahkemeye göre, deliller her ne kadar “culé” teriminin Barcelona FC oyuncularını veya taraftarlarını anmak için kullanılan bir terim olduğunu gösterse de, bu durum dava konusu marka kapsamında yer alan mallara ilişkin gerçek kullanımı gösterir nitelikte değildir. Şöyle ki, yazı içeriğinde daha önce de belirtildiği gibi, gerçek kullanımdan bahsedilmek için önceki markanın kapsadığı mallara ilişkin yer, zaman, miktar ve kullanım biçimini gösterir nitelikte kanıtlar sunulması gerekmektedir. İncelenen vakada davacı, dava konusu mallara ilişkin olarak yukarıdaki içerikte deliller sunamamıştır.

Davacının sunduğu delillerin dava konusu marka kapsamındaki mallar bakımından gerçek kullanımını gösterememesi nedeniyle dava tüm gerekçeleri bakımından reddedilmiştir. Yani, genellikle kazanan Barcelona FC, bu kez kaybetmiştir.

Sınai Mülkiyet Kanunu tasarısının TBMM’nce kabul edilmesi halinde, ilana itirazlarda belirli hallerde itiraz gerekçesi markaların kullanımını ispatlama zorunluluğu itiraz inceleme sistemimizin bir parçası olacaktır:

kullanımmaddesi

Hal böyleyken ilerleyen günlerde, gerçek kullanım kavramı ve kullanımın ispatlanmış sayılacağı haller üzerine daha da yoğunlaşmak kanaatimizce yerinde olacaktır.

Önder Erol Ünsal

Haziran 2016

unsalonderol@gmail.com

 

Analysis of Foreign Patent Filings in Turkey, A Promising Economy

thinking_brain_image

 

Thanks to its geographical location, Turkey has the privilege of enjoying various advantages compared to its neighbors and has maintained its attractive position through centuries of being the home of many civilizations and as a connecting bridge between the main continents providing easy access to remote markets. Roots on the Asia harmonized with the motivation to keep up with the fast growing allure of the West, Turkey seems to prove the promising elevation thanks to the policies adopted.

 

With a population of almost 80 million, Turkey has a highly promising and growing economy within Europe, and continues to be one of the center of attraction for foreign investors. According to data disclosed by the Prime Ministry Office of Public Diplomacy of the Turkish Republic, the amount of foreign investment Turkey received between 2005 and 2014 alone was $144 billion compared to corresponding data from 2002, which was nine times less than the recent value.

 

In line with the strategic studies followed with the target deadline of 2023, Turkey is motivated to pave the way for a prospering future to be achieved. International investment is one of the core focuses to achieving that goal. The recent approach of the administrative institutions has been to achieve a friendly investment environment for foreigners and to enable local procedures to be as convenient as possible. Examples include reduced local procedures for establishing a company (down from 38 days to six days), equal treatment of national and international investors as secured by related laws, and so on. This may well be interpreted as a positive effect of the long lasting negotiations for the accession to EU where the regulations and laws have been liberated comprehensively. However, it is a total different topic to be discussed as to what extent, and whether the said can be achieved compared to what is served on the table by EU.

 

Looking at the data

The chart overleaf (Fig. 1) has been generated using data obtained from the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (www.invest.gov.tr). It summarizes practical details as to Turkey’s level of competitiveness in different aspects compared to its neighbors.

 

handemum1

 

handemum2

 

To translate the above overall present situation in terms of levels of competitiveness and the outcome of the transparent investing environment in Turkey into numbers, the data in Fig. 2 overleaf has been gathered from the Central Bank of Turkey and Ministry of Economy and grouped per year. It will be referred to in order to further address the growing interest and investment of international firms in Turkey.

 

According to the 2013 statistics, all that is available so far through the publication dated June 25, 2015, of the Turkish Statistical Institute under no. 18858, regarding the Foreign Controlled Enterprises, “the production value of full enumerated part of Annual Industry and Service Statistics ( AISS), the Foreign Control Rates (FCR) in 2013 was 13.4%” and German, American and French enterprises controlled 2.3%, 1.8% and 1.5% of the total production respectively”.

 

Intellectual Property Rights

To nominate Turkey as one of the attractive countries for foreign investment, the question is further to be raised as to whether it is a convenient ground for the protection of intellectual property rights. This being one of the critical assets companies create after investing in a foreign country.

 

Referring to the data available as of February 17, 2015 at the Turkish Patent Institute’s (TPI) official website (http://www.tpe.gov.tr/TurkPatentEnstitusu/statistics), in line with the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community ( NACE Rev 1.1), the inventions for which protection was sought by foreign filers in Turkey belongs to the following main industries listed in Fig. 3 overleaf:

 

handemum3

 

Based on the data provided by the Information, Documentation and IT Department of the TPI, breakdown of the routes that filers use to get protection in Turkey is given in the chart opposite (Fig. 4). It provides statistical information from local patent registry covering 2010 to 2015.

 

handemum4

 

The registry records of 2010-2015 for patent applications filed by foreign firms show that 37,260 cases out of a total of 38,768 sought patent protection through validation of European Patents in Turkey. The number of national phase entries for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in the same period is 877 cases, while the national patent applications as filed by foreign firms remains at the a limited case number of 631.

 

Regarding the origin of the foreign companies opting for validation of European Patents the largest group are based in Germany (9,494 cases), followed by the US (6,014 cases), and then Switzerland (3,194 cases), Italy (2,921 cases), France (2,765 cases) and the UK (1,357 cases). For national phase entries, the US tops the list with 202 applications, while China (151 cases), Japan (111 cases), Korea (100 cases), Germany (41 cases) and the Russian Federation (32 cases) are among the top countries to prefer to use the international patent system to protect inventions in Turkey. The national patent applications, reaching a total number of 631 files between 2010 and 2015, are again mirroring the leading presence of US and Germany respectively while Asian firms may well be listed as the following countries with noticeable numbers. Still, the recent numbers for 2015 even reflects a change of attitude of Asian firms who also start to prefer the regional path towards the protection of the inventions in Turkey.

 

It is of course not surprising to note that Germany and the US are the two leading top patent filers in Turkey. This is a reflection of the presence of German and US firms in Turkey, their market share, and the investment directed from those countries. And, in parallel, they expand the protection of their inventions into Turkey via validation of European Patents as these countries are among the top patent filers before the European Patent Office too.

 

National Turkish Patents

Still, for international firms to prefer to file national patent applications, is the granting system for inventions in Turkey actually friendly and promising?

 

The granting system for inventions are regulated under the provisions of Decree Law No. 551 and Regulations pertaining to the protection of inventions as in force as of June 27, 1995. The current decree law and the respective regulation in relation to the implementation of the said was put into force to achieve practical solutions that reflect the corresponding international treaties, regarding the protection of inventions. In 2012 a draft was promulgated for a smoother adoption of European regulations. This was followed by inevitable arguments and discussions in relation to the coherency of the revisions and whether the proposals could realistically be put in practice by the TPI once the technical background and the capacity of the patent examiners was considered. The related patent draft has not yet been come into force.

 

Therefore, the current practice will be summarized stating that inventions are protected under three main types to be listed respectively as follows:

  • patent with examination (term of protection is 20 years)
  • patent without examination (term of protection seven years)
  • utility model certificates (term of protection is 10 years)

 

Where a term of protection of 20 years under patent with examination is sought, the applicants are notified with an official notification once due formal examination is completed. Where an official search as to novelty is to be requested that should be filed within 15 months, either as of the actual date of filing or the date of priority if claimed. Once the search report is conducted and notified, the applicant has the right to select a system either for a patent with or without examination.

 

If a system for a patent without an examination is requested by the applicant, the next step will be the publication stage. This is followed by a notification as to the decision of grant.

 

For a patent with examination to seek a term of protection of 20 years, the applicant is to proceed with a request for examination, while an official request for an examination to be carried out is limited to three examination reports. That is, if the final and third examination report is not affirmative as to the patentability of the claimed invention, the application will then be rejected and the applicant has a further right to file counter arguments against the said decision before the respective Specialized IP Court in Ankara.

 

A Utility Model Certificate on the other hand may well be nominated as the smoothest, yet weakest, type of protection for inventions considering the administrative steps, yet the capacity of enforcement. The procedure may well be summarized to include an initial filing proceeded by a publication to be finalized with a notification of decision of grant. The respective type of protection is granted where no technical search and examination are carried out. This leaves the rights owner vulnerable to third party arguments on the patentability of the claimed and protected invention.

 

Translation and Search/Examination

Turkey is not a party to the London Agreement regarding translation requirements of granted European Patents during national validation stages. Even so, the European Patents option is more practical than local practices that have to be followed for either local patent applications or national phase entries for International Patent Applications (PCT). Basic translation requirements along with due costs to occur, during local procedures, the period either from national filing or national phase entry to a possible stage of grant will literally be time consuming.

 

For PCT applications where the IPRP is available at the time of national phase entry, further local procedures are still friendly, since a notice of decision of grant will be notified if the respective IPRP is affirmative as to the patentability of the claimed invention, since TPI does not further proceed with a local examination. On the contrary, where the international search report is available during national phase entry, the applicants are to proceed with an examination to be carried (as limited to three as stated above) and the local procedures may last longer than projected. Indeed, one of the reasons for delays is the current practice of the TPI, whereby applicants are requested to select search/examination offices authorized to act on behalf of the TPI as subsidiary offices.

 

Due to the limited technical capacity of the related department of the TPI, once a local patent or a national phase application is filed, applicants are notified by the TPI as to whether the related technical field of the claimed invention falls within the scope of fields to be searched and examined by the patent examiners of TPI. Where it does not, the offices notified to be selected are the European Patent Office (for search only), Russian Patent Office, Danish Patent Office, Swedish Patent Office and Austrian Patent Office. Inevitable delays are experienced due to the cooperation between the selected authority and the TPI covering communication of the request, sequence of operations, and the deadlines to be followed for the issuance and notification of the reports by the selected authority to the TPI and then on to the applicant by the TPI, etc.

 

As a sign of a promising change, thanks to the dedicated work of the Turkish Patent Institute, the related procedures have evolved into a scheme whereby the number of patent applications searched and examined by local patent examiners has climbed to 45% in 2014. A big improvement considering only 9% in 2009 were searched and examined by local examiners. Recently, TPI declared that the corresponding rates are increased by 32% to reach to a total file number of 1,038, meanwhile all due related procedures are planned to be attended locally by TPI by 2016.

 

Conclusion

Under current practice, and the alternative types of protection available, the approach and the preferences of the filers varies depending on their priorities. It could be either to achieve a type of protection and to delay concerns regarding possible third party attacks to an unknown future, or to start to struggle during the administrative stages before TPI to seek a term of protection with shields of criteria of patentability affirmed.

 

Looking back again at the portfolio of foreign filers, the current statistics available in the TPI’s registry records show that the regional path via validation of a granted European Patent is the most preferred route to protecting inventions in Turkey. As of 2000, when Turkey became a member of the European Patent Convention, there has been a remarkable increase in organizations using this method and a subsequent decrease in the numbers of patent applications recorded at the local registry for national phase entries.

 

We assume that the leading position of the regional path into Turkey through validation of European Patents will prevail, depending on i) the concentration of the foreign filers coming mainly from major European countries and the US and ii) the adaptation to the new Unitary Patent era, which offers advantages yet also brings the need to put in place practical strategies for gaining IP protection in non-EU countries.

 

Hande Mumcuoğlu

Trademark & Patent Attorney

mumcuogluhande@gmail.com

This Article first published and circulated at The AIPPI World Congress 2015 in The Patent Lawyer Magazine, of CTC Legal Media.

 

A New Chapter of IP in Turkey: Green Light for Trademark Owners to Co-exist

tbmm

 

The need for a comprehensive revision of the Decree Laws as implemented through the protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Turkey has been an ongoing issue, and the chapters of this long journey so far have failed to pave the promising setting, with repeated terms of anti-climax in return.

 

The IP community in Turkey has been trying to speak out on behalf of the local and international firms to invest into Turkey, who have concerns of trust that prevail against the IP system, both in terms of practice on the administrative level and further through enforcing the rights as granted. Furthermore, practical attitudes and strategies have been generated to adjust to the environment in Turkey to achieve best solutions, with less risks.

 

Indeed, this has not been the quest only for the IP community, and the need for a substantial change has well been acknowledged and concentrated on senior administrative levels of TPI (Turkish Patent Institute) too. Since 2002, though not systematical and periodical, certain drafts have been discussed to signal the need to revise key articles of the decree laws. It is to be admitted that the political strategies adopted through the negotiations for accession to European Union shadows on different fields of society and the need for the transition of protection of IP has become top issues to be consolidated.

 

On a professional approach, we may argue that some earlier intentions to revise drafts with no solid ground arrived in relation to protection of IP – lessons learned– the feedback received from counter partners with whom TPI organizes frequent workshops and the case based topics as to drawbacks of the implementing regulations as addressed by the IP community at every possible grounds of discussion, all provide boost for this gradual change.

 

Though particulars of the new draft law deserves a detailed analyses through further articles, the outline for the readers of this article is set out to mainly refer to the key option for the applicants to benefit through registration of  trademarks, i.e the option to co-exist if mutually agreed on.

 

Before moving to the details of this long awaited option soon to be practiced, key revisions of the new draft law worth nothing may be, but not limited to, the following:

  • Co-Existence: This deserves to be listed as one of the top promises of the new draft Co-existence agreements will be accepted to be practical tools against rejection of a trademark application based on absolute grounds, due to earlier trademark application/ registrations cited with identical/confusingly similar description and class details.
  • Publication Period: Once ex-officio examination is completed and affirmed to be applicable for registration, the said is published within the monthly official trademark bulletin, and the said term of publication has even recently been started to be The updated term of publication is now two months, which may well be interpreted to reach an assumption that the formalities through ex-officio examination of trademark applications are now faster compared to earlier practice of the related department of TPI. Though each case has its own transaction history, in some recent cases, notice of publications have been experienced to be notified even within within 15 days as of actual date of filing.
    • Term of Opposition: Time to involve from filing to registration stage will be shorter thanks to the revised terms of oppositions to be filed against cited publications, to be limited to two months while the current practice enables interested third parties to attend to due action item within three
    • Renewal per Class: Registered holders of trademarks may select classes at renewal stage where no such option is available through current practice (i.e the option to renew partially)
    • Serious Use to be Proved: Per applicant’s request, the application of whom is contested during the publication period and the opponents who argue on registered earlier rights (at least for five years), are to prove serious use of the products/services which enjoy the right of protection and grounded as bases of opposition. This very article within the new draft law is another new requirement for opponents to consider and to satisfy while it may well be argued that the actual practice and frame of it will better be digested and acted upon through the course of related procedures, sure to be tailored individually per each particular
    • Term of Distinctiveness: Deliberate reference is made to “distinctiveness” as a key concern to be satisfied during examination on absolute

 

The Critical Aspect of Co-existence agreements and Importance Attached

The Article 7/a (b) of Current Decree Law No. 556 in relation to protection of trademarks has been in the center of a series of discussions, as it sets the practice of Turkish Patent Institute (TPI) in relation to examination of trademark applications on absolute grounds. For an insight to be provided, the said Article is to be cited to read as follows:

 

Absolute Grounds for Refusal for Registry of a Trademark Article 7/1(b)

The following signs shall not be registered as a trademark:

  1. b) Trademarks identical or confusingly similar with a trademark registered earlier, or with an earlier date of application for registration in respect of an identical or same type of product or

 

Upon receipt of an official request to seek protection for a trademark application, the examiners of Trademark Department of TPI conduct an examination on absolute grounds where the trademark application as filed is subject to the provisions and implementing regulations as defined under Article 7. This very article is considered to be a formal ground for “public interest” to be protected, which is interpreted to be defined particularly under Article No.7/1(b), and discussed to be further supported through a legal ground as defined under the provision of the Article No. 35 of the Constitution. The respective article of the constitution priorities “public interest” where a right to a property may be limited or restricted if/when necessary, i.e “when in conflict with public interest”. The meaning to be attached to “public interest” is still not that narrow to be biased on a negative obligation criteria only, as it engages with the positive obligation to protect the rights conferred against third parties, too.

 

Centralized on the positive obligation on the logic behind this respective article of the constitution, Turkish Patent Institute consolidates the provisions of the said, and trademark applications as examined on absolute grounds are rejected for registered rights in a sense for “public interest” to prevail against third party applications, with confusingly similar nature and to prevent intended registration for/to protect the registered holder. The principle of uniqueness.

 

The Right Conferred through Application/Registration is in Public Domain to be Protected Ex-Officio?

The scope of the right of the holders of registered rights are defined

under Article No. 9 of Decree Law No. 556 and the rights conferred are at the disposal of the registered holders per their preferences, which are expected to be customized through the filter of the contemporary rules of world of business, commerce and trade and the actual setting of the environment where trademarks are to function in parallel to the mission associated.

 

Since this very article outlines the tools the registered holders may apply, it is obvious that the said are all within the discretion of the right owner. Then the question arrives to the idea behind the motivation of relocating the issue of “protection of public interest” and how it turns out to be translated to cover, to secure the interests of the registered holders.

 

Different attributions are available among the IP community in Turkey discussing whether the current practice of TPI is subjective, extends the logic of examination on absolute grounds (to reside mainly on the criteria to be satisfied for a description to be nominated as proper and distinctive), imitates to supervise the earlier rights (which are argued not to be associated with arguments on relative grounds) or not.

 

This so-called or discussed subjective approach, where the interest of the applicants/holders (tagged as public in the sense of Article 7/1(b)) prevails in the new draft law and examination on absolute grounds, will be carried out based on the earlier rights at the local registry. In that sense, although a certain population of IP community cited to be against this practice and consider the said to be outdated once compared to the practice of various IP authorities in different countries, there is still a considerable level of attitude to favor this approach for the trademark applicants/holders rights to be protected through preventing third party applications with confusingly similar nature at the administrative level.

 

Still, what the majority of the IP community in Turkey agree and appreciate is the introduction of co-existence agreements to be accepted by TPI, who has acknowledged the necessity to respect and adopt the contemporary rules of business, where (and if) the brand owners are willing to cooperate with third parties to expand the terms and potential of the business to be generated, while enjoying the exclusive rights granted.

 

Compared to earlier drafts, with an attempt to revise and foster the practice of protection of IP rights in Turkey, this very recent draft law has already been submitted to the Parliament and we hope the law to be accepted and be in force by the end of 2016. All these recent activities in a general sense have also been supported and co-operated with the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology of Turkey. Sure, a new chapter is soon to be introduced and the practice of the revised articles may come along with minor adversities, yet the vision behind deserves to be appreciated as the key provisions, either revised or introduced, are intended to be evocative of contemporary regulation of leading IP offices in foreign countries and down to earth grounds for registered trademark will be provided to function at the discretion of their holders.

 

Hande Mumcuoğlu

Trademark & Patent Attorney

mumcuogluhande@gmail.com

 

This article was first published and circulated in the INTA, Orlando Issue 3 2016 of The Trademark Lawyer Magazine http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?pbid=8f450367-5863-4898-9c66-eb82480402b1&pnum=53

Expansion in the Subject-Matter of Trademark: Have the Law of Passing-Off and the Law of Designs Become Redundant regarding the Protection of Trade Dress?

duygu2

The 21st century is witnessing the victory of the visual sense among the five senses taking into consideration increased visualization of everyday life. In such an environment, inevitably, trade dress has become an important value for companies which want to gain advantage in the economic competition. Trade dress can be identified as “total image” and “overall appearance” of a product or its packaging.[1] It includes visual appearance, shape, packaging or even colour of a product and the decor of a restaurant.

Although the subject matter of trademark in the EU has previously been identified as relatively strict (especially compared with the US), recent Apple[2] case has triggered the expansion of the subject matter of trademark protection in a way including service dress. Under such an expansion, whether the law of passing-off and the law of designs have become redundant have been a highly debated issue which needs to be analyzed specifically. For this purpose, this paper will examine protection of trade dress regarding trademark law and designs law in the EU, and passing-off in the UK and it will reveal that there is still need for the law of designs and the law of passing-off regarding trade dress, so despite the overlapping of the protection provided to trade dress by designs law and passing-off, they have not become redundant.

First, trade dress protection under the EU trademark law will be analyzed. Then, designs law in the EU will be examined as another way of having trade dress protection. After that, law of passing-off will be explained as an alternative protection of trade dress in the absence of any registration. Finally, laws of trademark, designs and passing-off will be compared to draw attention to the advantages and disadvantages of each regime in terms of protecting trade dress. The paper will be concluded stating that the laws of trademark, designs and passing-off provide different kinds of protection to trade dress, and they have different advantages and disadvantages; so the law of passing-off and the law of designs have not become redundant considering the expansion of the subject matter of trademark.

 

Protection of Trade Dress under the EU Trademark Law

 

Trade dress is a judicially-made notion originally stemming from the US jurisdiction used to signify overall image of a product or service capable of identifying the source of them. In Europe, this notion does not appear neither in the statutory law nor in the jurisdiction explicitly; instead, the term “get-up” is used to identify the total look and feel of the product.

Although the statutory law in the EU does not use the term “trade dress” itself, the Regulation which establishes a unitary trademark (Community Trade Mark, CTM) throughout the EU specifies “signs of which a Community trade mark may consist” including shapes and packaging in Article 4 provided that they are capable of “distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings”.[3] In Article 7, the Regulation puts forward necessary conditions for the signs to be registered as a CTM where distinctiveness has been one of the most crucial of them. According to the CJEU, a sign is regarded as distinctive if it “identif[ies] the product in respect of which registration is applied for as originating from a particular undertaking, and thus distinguish[es] that product from products of other undertakings”.[4] As a result of this definition, non-distinctive signs are excluded from protection since they refer “to the characteristics of goods or services in respect of which registration is sought”.[5] As those signs should be used by other competitors freely, they should be prevented “being reserved to one undertaking alone”.[6] As is seen, main rationale behind the requirement of distinctiveness is to prevent hampering of competition through giving monopolistic rights over freely used signs.

In the birth-place of trade dress, Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana[7] case, in which a Mexican style business venue was wanted to be protected as a trade dress, points out explicitly necessary criteria for trade dress protection in the US law. Accordingly, the two important factors are distinctiveness and non-functionality. Regarding the first requirement, the trade dress must identify the source of the product or the service and must distinguish it from other competitors.[8] However, not all trade dresses are inherently distinctive, but only ones which are “suggestive, arbitrary and fanciful” have been regarded as distinctive by the Supreme Court.[9] In that case, the Court mainly examined whether inherent distinctiveness was enough for trade dress to be protected under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act[10] or secondary meaning was necessary for this protection. The Court held that the trade dress was inherently distinctive “because their intrinsic nature serve[d] to identify a particular source of a product” and it was neither descriptive nor functional, so there was no need to prove acquired distinctiveness through secondary meaning,[11] which manifests that a trademark can be regarded as distinctive either as a result of inherent distinctiveness or acquired distinctiveness.

On the other hand, in much recent Wal-Mart v Samara case, the Court distinguished product shapes from packaging and stated that the former was not capable of identifying the source of the product and required secondary meaning to be regarded as distinctive.[12] This decision of the Supreme Court shows that proving distinctiveness of a trade dress has become harder for companies due to the requirement of secondary meaning since then.[13]

On the other hand, regarding trade dress, the EU trademark law does not require acquired distinctiveness in all circumstances. In other words, the distinctiveness test in the EU regarding trade dress is not different from traditional trademarks such as words. Also, the trademark law does not set different eligibility criteria for shapes, packaging and graphically represented signs other than words to be eligible in the meaning of Article 7 of the Regulation. The CJEU has many times put forward this issue through stating that “the criteria for assessing the distinctive character of three-dimensional trademarks consisting of the appearance of the product itself are no different from those applicable to other categories of trade mark”.[14]

Non-functionality is the other main requirement for trade dress protection. In the US context, Sections 2(e)(5) and 43(a)(3) of the Lanham Act explicitly state that in order to benefit from trade dress protection, it must be non-functional.[15] In Traffix, the Supreme Court stated that a trademark is functional “when it is essential to the use or purpose of the device or when it affects the cost or quality of the device”.[16]

In the EU context, Article 7(1)(e) of the Regulation provides specific exclusions to registration of trade dress, which can be identified similar to the “functionality doctrine” in the US law. Accordingly, signs which consist exclusively of the shape, or another characteristic, which results from the nature of the goods themselves; which is necessary to obtain a technical result; and which gives substantial value to the goods are excluded from registration.[17] This exclusion of functional, natural or ornamental product shape marks distinguishes trademark from design. It is enough for an application to fall in the ambit of one of those three conditions to be rejected.[18]

In that context, Lego[19] case was resulted with the rejection of the application of toy brick according to this provision based on the reason of not to prevent competitors from using similar shapes. In other words, competitors should not be detained from using the applicant’s “technical solution” through giving the latter a monopoly.[20] In the Hauck case, the CJEU interpreted “shape which gives substantial value to the goods” provision broadly to include not only shapes with “artistic or ornamental value” but also “essential functional characteristics” of a shape in order not to give exclusive right to the applicant regarding the latter.[21] In this respect, it is reasonable to state that the courts have tried to establish a balance between competition and private reward when deciding on the protection of trade dress. For this purpose, Article 7(1)(e) of the Regulation plays a balancing function specific to trade dress besides other provisions under Article 7 of the Regulation.

Main rationale behind the Article 7(1)(e) is clearly put forward in Philips v Remington case through stating that the purpose is “to prevent trade mark protection from granting its proprietor a monopoly on technical solutions or functional characteristics of a product which a user is likely to seek in the products of competitors”.[22] In other words, the provision aims to confine the use of the shape with the function of identifying its source rather than stifling competition in a way which gives the exclusive right of the technical or functional form to one competitor.

The CJEU has stated many times in its decisions that there is no need to prove acquired distinctiveness through use but inherent distinctiveness is sufficient for registration of those shapes, packaging and signs, which differentiates the EU law from the US one on that point. However, the CJEU has asserted in Mag Instrument case that “consumers are not in the habit of making assumptions about the origin of goods based upon the shape of their packaging in the absence of any graphic or word element, and it could therefore prove more difficult to establish distinctiveness in the cases of such three-dimensional trademarks than in the case of a word or figurative mark”.[23] As a result of this “normative presumption”, the CJEU has made use of “departs significantly test” to determine whether the product shape is inherently distinctive or not.[24] According to this test, “[o]nly a mark which departs significantly from the norm or customs of the sector and thereby fulfils its essential function of indicating origin” can be identified as distinctive in the meaning of Article 7(1)(b) of the Regulation.[25] However, the ignorance of the CJEU to take into consideration the second step, the requirement of “fulfilling essential function”, in the Apple[26] case has opened the doors for trade dress protection to services.[27] While Apple’s trade dress was registered as a result of its acquired distinctiveness in the US, it was found inherently distinctive by the CJEU, which shows that the CJEU has interpreted the “departs significantly test” loosely. After that case, it has become possible to state that the scope of trademark has extended to include service dress.

This analysis shows that while the US treats trademarks differently and requires acquired distinctiveness for product shapes to be protected under the trademark law, there is not such differentiation in the EU law. As long as a trademark including trade dress satisfies the requirement of distinctiveness and non-functionality in the meaning of Article 7(1)(e) of the Regulation, it does not matter whether it is the result of inherent or acquired distinctiveness. On the other hand, what really lies at the very heart of the distinctiveness test in the EU is consumer perception which the CJEU has identified average consumer not in the habit of considering trade dress as the indicator of source. This “normative assumption” results with the requirement of high level of distinctiveness regarding trade dress in practice.

As the EU trademark law requires such a high level of distinctiveness, this can be a reason to analyze designs law to examine whether there is a room for trade dress protection. If it is, there appears a chance to protect trade dresses under design law which are failed from the scrutiny of Article 7 of the Regulation.

 

Protection of Trade Dress under the EU Designs Law

 

According to the definition given in the Designs Regulation which establishes a unitary design protection throughout the EU, namely Community Design (CD), “design means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation”.[28] It is obvious from this definition that through referencing “the appearance of the whole or a part of a product” it includes trade dress.[29] Main difference between trademark and design is that the former identifies the source of the product or service and distinguishes them from other companies’ products or services whereas the purpose of the latter “is to make the product itself more useful and appealing”.[30]

Article 4(1) of the Designs Regulation puts forward “novelty” and “individual character” as the requirements of a design to be protected as a CD.[31] A design is regarded as new if it has not been made available to the public before the date of filing or priority date and it is “considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public” before the date of filing or priority date.[32] Here, another important difference between trademark law and designs law appears regarding the term “informed user”. Whereas, trademark law refers to “average consumer” who is “reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect”,[33] designs law conceptualizes “informed user” which is defined as the “end user” who is an “ordinary people, lacking the knowledge of the ‘skilled designer’” but familiar with the existing designs.[34] In PepsiCo case, the CJEU identified informed user in between the trademark concept of “average consumer” and the “sectoral expert” to mean that “not to a user of average attention, but to a particularly observant one, either because of his personal experience or his extensive knowledge of the sector in question”.[35] In this respect, although it is difficult to distinguish them from each other, it is reasonable to assert that informed user can be deemed one step ahead of average consumer as the former is aware of existing designs.[36] This assumption shows that average consumer can be more disadvantageous to truly identify the origin of the trade dress since he barely “has the chance to make a direct comparison between the different signs” whereas informed user is supposed to be aware of the design corpus.[37]Under this assumption, trademark law requires a high level of distinctiveness test to protect only source-indicative signs.

Furthermore, as it has been pointed out above regarding the CTM, in the same way, the legislator provides certain provisions to exclude “features of appearance of a product which are solely dictated by its technical function”[38] from designs protection to prevent competition being endangered by the monopolization of certain features which should be, indeed, being left to the use of competitors freely. However, it is not always easy to specify which features of the design are technically functional. In this respect, “design freedom” is an important factor to be examined. In cases where there is only one way to  produce the design which requires the same appearance with the design of claimed registration, then it is appropriate to say that the appearance of the product is solely dictated by the function as there is very limited design freedom; hence cannot be protected as a design.

As article 3(2) of the Design Directive clearly puts that “a design shall be protected by a design right to the extent that it is new and has individual character”, meaning that there is no requirement for the design to be “distinctive” in order to be protected. This will give to design owner the opportunity to register his trade dress as a CD if he does not have a CTM protection because of the lack of distinctiveness of this trade dress in the meaning of Article 7 of the Trademark Regulation.

 

Protection of Trade Dress under the Law of Passing-Off

 

The law of passing-off, which has been developed in the UK jurisprudence, can be identified as a form of unfair competition specific to common law which aims to prevent deception.

The classic definition of passing-off was made in Jif Lemon[39] case since then “goodwill”, “misrepresentation”, and “damage” have been regarded as requirements of passing-off protection, the so-called “classical trinity”.[40] The first element of passing-off, namely goodwill, is a special concept to differentiate passing-off from trademark protection. It is goodwill, “the benefit and advantage of the good name […] attractive force which brings in custom”, that passing-off protects but not the trademark itself.[41] To illustrate, in Jif Lemon, it was not the trade dress (lemon-shaped-3D packaging) of the claimant being protected but his goodwill acquired in the course of time.

Misrepresentation is the second element required for passing-off action, which is different from confusion because in the former, deception is “material” and there is a real likelihood of damage towards claimant’s goodwill.[42] Accordingly, in Jif Lemon case, the defendant’s use of a different label on the same lemon-shaped-3D-trademark did not regarded sufficient enough to prevent customers from deceiving as they would probably think that the good was belong with the claimant.[43] Misrepresentation generally results with damage, which is the last element of passing-off, on the claimant’s goodwill in the form of loss of customer or loss of distinctiveness, especially in cases where passing-off was realized through inferior goods or services.[44] As the claimant argued in Henry the Hoover case, any breakdown in the copied version of the vacuum cleaner would be related with the claimant whose goodwill would be eventually affected negatively.[45]

In cases where trademark infringement is not actionable due to the lack of registration, passing-off provides protection. As it was in Lego case, although the registration of the shape of the Lego brick as a trademark was rejected due to its functional feature in the meaning of Article 7(1)(e) of the Regulation, it was protected against copying under the unfair competition law which can be seen as the EU version of passing-off. Two other important cases, Henry the Hoover and Puffin/Penguin, further proves that passing-off has been extended to offer protection to certain types of trade dress. In Henry the Hoover[46] case, the defendant copied the shape of the vacuum cleaner of the claimant but without the smiling face and the name “Henry” on it. The court sought whether the goodwill of the claimant on the small-man-like trade dress was sufficient enough to succeed in passing-off action.[47] The court found the shape of the vacuum cleaner distinctive and indicative of the origin of the product even in the absence of the word mark “Henry” and the smiling face and decided on passing-off[48], which shows that passing-off is flexible enough to provide protection to trade dress. In Puffin/Penguin[49] case, although the signs of “penguin” and “puffin” were not similar to find trademark infringement, an injunction was obtained by the claimant as a result of passing-off action due to the resemblance of the two trade dresses taking into consideration the colour and the birds used as a whole.

 

Comparative Analysis

 

After having analyzed the laws of trademark, designs and passing-off, it is proper to say that each of them provides different advantages as well as disadvantages to applicant of trade dress. It is obvious that the trademark law provides perpetual protection and gives exclusive right to the right-owner to prevent unauthorized use of identical/similar goods and services; therefore, protection under trademark law is highly desirable compared to the limited protection of the designs law and protection of the law of passing-off against copying. Also, there is no need for a trade dress to be “new” to be protected under the trademark law; even if it has been used in trade for many years, it is possible to register it as long as it satisfies the requirements set out in Article 7 of the Regulation. In fact, under such a situation it would be easier to register the trade dress based on acquired distinctiveness through use. Particularly, if the right-owner has a design protection, he can easily benefit from perpetual protection of trademark law based on its acquired distinctiveness after his design expired.

However, such kind of generous protection is not always easy to obtain especially in case of trade dress where proving distinctiveness has been harder as a result of the CJEU’s “normative presumption”. Although the scope of trademark protection has been extended since the Apple case in a way including service dress; nevertheless, there have been many cases that the CJEU rejected trademark protection regarding certain trade dress applications because of the lack of distinctiveness and/or due to their functional, natural and ornamental features. As the law of trademark provides perpetual protection, it has been more focused on the purpose of protecting competition to prevent signs, which should be open to use of competitors, become monopolized  in perpetuum; therefore, satisfying necessary conditions for registration of a trade dress as a trademark has been harder than registering it as a design. Even though a trade dress can pass the distinctiveness test successfully and being registered, it can be invalidated as a result of opposition, meaning that there is always a possibility of a trade dress to become invalid under the trademark law. Last but not least, the “inconsistency” in and among the decisions of EUIPO, the Boards of Appeal and the General Court resulting with lack of predictability, can be an important disincentive for applicants to register their trade dresses as CTM.[50]

In cases where a trade dress is not regarded as “distinctive” or cannot pass the Article 7 examination in the Regulation, it can be possible to register it as a design. It has been analyzed that whereas trademark law necessitates “distinctiveness” for registration, designs law requires “novelty” and “individual character” which are different from the trademark concept of “distinctiveness”. Therefore, in cases where it is difficult to prove distinctiveness of the trade dress no matter inherent or acquired, designs law appears as a savoir where it is easier to pass the test of “novelty” if the trade dress has not been made available to the public before. Indeed, there is no substantial examination and opposition processes in the Community designs law, which makes the registration process faster and easier than trademark.[51] Another remarkable feature of the designs law is it allows making multiple applications, meaning that it is possible to include more than one design to single CD application, which provides easiness in terms of both time and cost compared to CTM’s single sign requirement.[52] The protection is not limited with identical/similar goods or services in the designs law, which stands out as another advantage of it whereas, except well-known marks, the protection is only possible for identical/similar goods and services in the trademark law. Also, there is the right of deferment in CD which provides up to thirty months of deferment of publication from the date of filing/priority.[53]  Regarding such a longer list of advantages of the designs law compared to the trademark law, relatively shorter term of protection appears to be the most important disadvantage of the former.

If it is not possible to register the trade dress under the laws of trademark or designs, there is still a chance to have protection under the law of passing-off. It can be possible for trade dress owner to have protection against copying in the absence of any registered right if the “classical trinity” is fulfilled. Cases such as Jif Lemon, Puffin/Penguin and Henry the Hoover have proved that the scope of passing-off is flexible enough to provide protection to trade dress. However, it only protects against copying which is a disadvantage compared to the generous protection of the trademark law and the designs law. On the other hand, it is harder to prove acquired distinctiveness in trademark law compared to passing-off as the former gives monopoly power to the owner, which requires higher level of distinctiveness whereas the latter only enables the owner, without giving any property right, to prevent others using his trade dress in a deceptive way.[54] Passing-off also makes it easier for unregistered trade dress to be registered in the future through proving acquired distinctiveness by use. Regarding its relatively narrow scope of protection, passing-off can be considered as a last resort where, depending on the applicant’s aim, it is favourable to apply for design protection first as not to endanger the novelty requirement and later to try his chance on the trademark law.

As is seen, there is no single way of obtaining trade dress protection as it is possible to have cumulative protection. Since each regime has its own advantages and disadvantages, it depends on the purpose of the applicant to choose which type of protection he needs. To illustrate, if the trade dress owner has a small company and he is new in the sector, it is suitable for him to register his trade dress as a CD first, as this is quicker and less expensive than having a CTM, as well as does not require substantial examination and allows multiple applications. Then, he can register his trade dress as a CTM to benefit from its perpetual protection. If he misses the chance of registering his trade dress either as a CTM or as a CD, he can still protect it against copying based on the law of passing-off.

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, despite the expansion of the subject matter of the trademark law in the EU, this paper has shown that the law of passing-off and the law of designs have not become redundant as each law provides different advantages to trade dress owners, and registration of trade dress under one of them does not preclude the owner from other registrations or benefiting from the protection of passing-off. Instead of making them redundant, this overlapping of different type of protections provides freedom of choice and alternatives to trade dress owners as they are not mutually exclusive regimes. However, what has really been affected from this overlap resulting with the extension in the duration of the monopolistic rights and less competition is public domain, which exceeds the purposes of this paper.

 

Duygu Çampınarı

LLM Student in Intellectual Property Law

University of Leeds

duygucampinari@gmail.com

 

[1] Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana Inc 505 US 763 (1992).

[2] Case C-421/13 Apple Inc v Deutsches Patent-und Markenamt [2014].

[3] Council Regulation (EC) 207/2009 on the Community trade mark (codified version) [2009] OJ L78/1, art 4.

[4] Linde AG (C-53/01), Winward Industries Inc (C-54/01), and Rado Uhren AG (C-55/01) [2003] ECR I–3177.

[5] Case C-191/01 P OHIM v Wm Wrigley Jr Company [2003] ECR-I 12473.

[6] Case C-191/01 P OHIM v Wm Wrigley Jr Company [2003] ECR-I 12473.

[7] Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana Inc 505 US 763 (1992).

[8] Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana Inc 505 US 763 (1992).

[9] Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana Inc 505 US 763 (1992).

[10] 15 USC § 1125.

[11] Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana Inc 505 US 763 (1992).

[12] Wal-Mart Stores Inc v Samara Bros 529 US 205 (2000).

[13] Christina Platt Hillson, ‘Trade Dress Protection: When A Dress is Just A Dress According to the Supreme Court in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v Samara Brothers’(2001) 53 Baylor Law Review 461, 476.

[14] Case C-144/06 P Henkel v OHIM [2007] ECR I-8109.

[15] 15 USC § 1052 and § 1125.

[16] Traffix Devices Inc v Marketing Displays Inc 532 US 23 (2001).

[17] Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the Community trade mark and Commission Regulation (EC) No 2868/95 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 on the Community trade mark, and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 2869/95 on the fees payable to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market  [2015] OJ L341/21, art 7(1)(e).

[18] Case C-205/13 Hauck GmbH & Co KG v Stokke A/S, Stokke Nederland BV, Peter Opsvik and Peter Opsvik A/S [2014].

[19] Case C-48/09 P Lego Juris A/S v OHIM [2010] ECR I-8403.

[20] Case C-48/09 P Lego Juris A/S v OHIM [2010] ECR I-8403.

[21] Case C-205/13 Hauck GmbH & Co KG v Stokke A/S, Stokke Nederland BV, Peter Opsvik and Peter Opsvik A/S [2014].

[22] Case C–299/99 Philips v Remington [2002] ECR I–5490, para 78.

[23] Case C–136/02 P Mag Instrument Inc v OHIM [2004] ECR I–9182.

[24]Cesar J Ramirez-Montes, ‘Protecting “Service” Dress in Europe’ (2015) <https://law.depaul.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-intellectual-property-law-and-information-technology/programs/ip-scholars-conference/Documents/ipsc_2015/abstracts-papers-presentation/RamirezMontesC_Paper.pdf> accessed 29 November 2015. (Work in progress)

[25] Case C–136/02 P Mag Instrument Inc v OHIM [2004] ECR I–9182; Case C-144/06 P Henkel v OHIM [2007] ECR I-8109.

[26] Case C-421/13 Apple Inc v Deutsches Patent-und Markenamt [2014].

[27] Cesar J Ramirez-Montes, ‘Protecting “Service” Dress in Europe’ (2015) <https://law.depaul.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-intellectual-property-law-and-information-technology/programs/ip-scholars-conference/Documents/ipsc_2015/abstracts-papers-presentation/RamirezMontesC_Paper.pdf> accessed 29 November 2015. (Work in progress)

[28] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 3(a).

[29] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 3(a).

[30] Susanna Monseau, ‘European Design Rights: A Model for the Protection of All Designers from Piracy’ (2011) 48 American Business Law Journal 27, 46 citing Wal-Mart Stores Inc v Samara Bros Inc 529 US 205 (2000).

[31] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 4(1).

[32] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 6(1)(b).

[33] Linde AG (C-53/01), Winward Industries Inc (C-54/01), and Rado Uhren AG (C-55/01) [2003] ECR I–3177.

[34] David C Musker, The Design Directive (UK, The Chartered Institute of Patent Agents) < http://www.jenkins.eu/downloads/the-design-directive-by-david-musker.pdf> accessed 05 January 2016.

[35] Case C–281/10 P PepsiCo Inc v Grupo Promer Mon Graphic SA [2011] ECR I–10178.

[36] Anna Carboni, ‘The Overlap Between Registered Community Designs and Community Trade Marks’(2006) 4 Journal of IP Law & Practice 256, 262.

[37] Anna Carboni, ‘The Overlap Between Registered Community Designs and Community Trade Marks’(2006) 4 Journal of IP Law & Practice 256, 262.

[38] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 8.

[39] Reckitt & Colman Products Limited v Borden Limited [1990] 1 WLR 491.

[40] Jennifer Davis, Intellectual Property Law (3rd edn, OUP 2008)

[41] Jennifer Davis, Intellectual Property Law (3rd edn, OUP 2008) 149 citing IRC v Muller & Co’s Margarine Ltd (1901)

[42] Jennifer Davis, Intellectual Property Law (3rd edn, OUP 2008).

[43] Reckitt & Colman Products Limited v Borden Limited [1990] 1 WLR 491.

[44] Jennifer Davis, Intellectual Property Law (3rd edn, OUP 2008).

[45] Numantic International Ltd v Qualtex UK Ltd [2010] EWHC 1237 (Ch).

[46] Numantic International Ltd v Qualtex UK Ltd [2010] EWHC 1237 (Ch).

[47] Numantic International Ltd v Qualtex UK Ltd [2010] EWHC 1237 (Ch).

[48] Numantic International Ltd v Qualtex UK Ltd [2010] EWHC 1237 (Ch).

[49] United Biscuits UK Ltd v Asda Stores Ltd [1997] RPC 513.

[50] Anna Carboni, ‘The Overlap Between Registered Community Designs and Community Trade Marks’(2006) 4 Journal of IP Law & Practice 256, 260-261.

[51] Anna Carboni, ‘The Overlap Between Registered Community Designs and Community Trade Marks’(2006) 4 Journal of IP Law & Practice 256, 260.

[52] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 37.

[53] Council Regulation (EC) 6/2002 on Community designs (codified version) [2002] OJ L3/1, art 50.

[54] Jennifer Davis, Intellectual Property Law (3rd edn, OUP 2008) 170-171 (citation omitted).

 

INTA KONFERANSI BU YIL ORLANDO’DAYDI

intaorlando1

 

ULUSLARARASI MARKA BİRLİĞİ (INTERNATIONAL TRADEMARK ASSOCIATION / INTA) dünyanın önde gelen ve en büyük marka etkinliklerinden olan konferanslarından 138.’sini bu yıl Mayıs ayında A.B.D.’nin Orlando şehrinde bulunan Orange County Convention Center’da gerçekleştirdi. Kendi resmi sitesinde de belirtildiği üzere INTA, toplam 10.115 kayıtlı katılımcı ile bu yıl tarihindeki en geniş katılımlı toplantıya ev sahipliği yaptı. Temsil ettiğimiz vekillik firmasından Gamze Coşkun Bakır ile birlikte firmamızı uluslararası arenada temsil etmek, sektördeki gelişmeler ile değişimleri yakından takip etmek ve sektörün nabzını ölçmek amacıyla toplantıya katılım gerçekleştirdik.

Giderek küreselleşen, fikri ve sınai mülkiyet haklarının korunmasının son derece önem arz ettiği dünyamızda, yalnızca markalar değil aynı zamanda diğer fikri mülkiyet haklarıyla da yakından ilgilenen birçok müvekkil, vekil ve avukatın bir araya gelmiş olduğu canlı bir forum olan INTA, aynı zamanda güçlü bir iş ağı ve ilişkisi oluşturma açısından da son derece önemli bir etkinlik. Bu büyük toplantı esnasında, WIPO, EUIPO, OAPI ve ARIPO gibi uluslararası örgütlerin yanı sıra bireysel olarak firmaların stantlarından oluşan sergi ve stant alanında geliştirilen programlar ve sunulan hizmetler konusunda bilgi edinmek mümkün. Bunun yanı sıra, alana ilişkin çeşitli konularda çok sayıda eğitim ve seminere katılma olanağı da bulunuyor. Aynı zamanda dünyanın dört bir yanından katılım sağlayan marka ve patent vekilleri ile yüz yüze ve birebir görüşmeler yaparak ülke bazındaki mevzuat ve uygulamaların ilk ağızdan öğrenilmesi, istişare edilmesi ve iş ilişkilerinin geliştirilmesi fırsatı ise tüm bireyler ve firmalar için büyük öneme sahip.   

140 ülkeden 10 bini aşkın katılımcının yer aldığı konferans kapsamında gerçekleştirilen toplantılar ve görüşmeler, sınai mülkiyet haklarının gelişimi ve bu hakların korunmasına verilen önemin artmasına katkıda bulunmanın yanında son derece verimli ve karşılıklı sorulara cevap bulunmasını sağlayıp yeni işbirliği fırsatları da yaratıyor. Bu durum elbette gözle görülür bir kıyasıya rekabet ortamı da yaratıyor. Bu görüşmelerin gerçekleştirilmesinde buluşmaları kolaylaştıran 4 ayrı buluşma noktasının ve son derece geniş bir toplantı alanının payının büyük olduğundan da özellikle bahsetmek gerekiyor.

Yapılan görüşmelerde dile getirildiği üzere marka alanında en çok tartışılan ve gündeme getirilen sorunların başında, uluslararası alanda özellikle Türkiye’nin de içinde bulunduğu belirli bölgelerde yoğunlaşan sahte ve taklit ürünler geliyor. Bu görüşmelerin büyük bir kısmında çeşitli ülkelerden vekillerin müvekkilleri adına takip ettikleri sahte ürünlere ilişkin işlemlerin sayısındaki artışın dikkat çekici olduğundan bahsedildi. Aynı zamanda yeni Avrupa Birliği Marka Tüzüğü ile birlikte AB’nin resmi bir kurumu olan OHIM’in adının Avrupa Birliği Fikri Mülkiyet Ofisi (European Union Intellectual Property Office – EUIPO) olarak değişmesi, yeni tüzük ile birlikte yaşanacak sistemsel ve uygulamaya ilişkin değişiklikler tartışılırken, ABD’li vekiller ile görüşmelerin temel odak noktasını Kullanım Beyanı sunulmasına ilişkin ayrıntılar ve ABD Patent Ofisi’nin WIPO aracılığı ile gerçekleştirilen başvurular konusunda verdiği ret kararları oluşturdu.

Dünyadaki gelişmeleri yakından takip edebilmek ve uluslararası olarak marka ve patent vekilleri ve ilgili firmalar ile ikili temaslarda bulunabilmek amacıyla gerçekleştirilen INTA 2016 etkinliğinde yer almak ve firmamızı temsil etmek son derece büyük bir fırsat ve gurur verici bir deneyim idi. Son olarak Universal Stüdyoları’nda gerçekleştirilen Büyük Kapanış Etkinliği de böylesine önemli ve görkemli bir konferansa yakışacak derecede keyifli ve eğlenceli idi.

İpek Şener

Uluslararası Marka ve Tasarım Danışmanı

Haziran 2016