Registrability of Trade Marks – WIENER WERKSTATTE

A trade mark can be refused where it is descriptive of the goods and services it covers. This could be where the mark ‘designates the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value or geographical origin’ of the goods or service or other characteristic. For example, ‘GOOD BOOKS’ would be a descriptive trade mark in a class for printed materials and books. But what if I wanted to register a trade mark in the UK or as a CTM for a term which is descriptive of the products sold but in another language? For example ‘BON LIVRES’ or ‘BUENOS LIBROS’ for books.

A recent judgment from the General Court of Justice has confirmed an important distinction when registering foreign language trade marks in separate EU countries and when using the CTM system.  Essentially it seems far riskier to register a CTM when the word, in any one of the 23 official languages in the EU, is descriptive of the registered goods.

National registrations in the EU
The resounding principle in EU law is that descriptive foreign language trade marks can be registered where the relevant consumers in the country where registration is sought can not identify the clear meaning of the term.

So if I register the word ‘TABELA’ (‘table’ in Portuguese) in the UK for furniture the question is whether British consumers would identify that ‘TABELA’ actually means ‘table’. If not then the registration would be accepted. This principle was established in the MATRAZEN case where the word MATRAZEN, which means ‘mattress’ in Germany, was successfully registered in Spain as a trade mark for beds.

This is significant as the level of knowledge of German is seen from the perspective of the Spanish consumer.

CTM registrations
However what is the position of registering foreign language CTMs where the foreign language happens to be one of the official 23 languages?

Here the relevant territory would be that of the whole of the EU. And the relevant public, regardless of where the products are predominately being sold, is the consumer of the product in the particular language of the mark. So a CTM application for ‘TABELA’ would be assessed from the point of view of Portuguese speakers in Portugal, even though I may never sell a product there.
This has been confirmed in the recent ‘WIENER WERKSTATTE’ case. Here the applicants applied to register a CTM for WIENER WERKSTATTE, which translates to VIENNESE WORKSHOP from German to English and refers to a style of product design of the early 20th century.  All of the products registered were for a variety of objects from frames to lights to vases.

What is interesting with this case is that the Court’s approach seems to look at the language of the sign and decide whether consumers, where that language is spoken in the EU, would find the term to be descriptive (see para 20 of judgement).  The Court thought as German speakers would perceive the descriptiveness of the term Wiener Werkstätte, this was sufficient to have the trade mark refused in the whole of the EU.

In a previous ruling, the Swedish owner of the brand ELLOS applied for a CTM in various classes including class 25 for clothing. The word ELLOS is the third personal male plural pronoun in Spanish. On appeal to the General Court the latter found that, from the perspective of Spanish consumers, the mark ELLOS would denote that the goods concerned were intended for men. The result of the case was to remove the class 25 clothing description from the application (see here).

The impact of the WIENER WERKSTATTE judgment is to confirm that, strategically, a national approach to trade mark registration in the EU could be safer approach where the term in question happens to be one of the official languages of the EU and is descriptive of the products sold in that language.

Azrights IP Brands blog – from the team at Azrights Intellectual Property and Technology Solicitors


Citizens of New Albany can participate in their local government. This process insures that power will always remain where it belongs – with the people.

The most important right citizens have is the right to vote. By voting, the people have a voice in local government. The people decide who will represent them in local government.

Before voting in an, election, each citizen should be well informed about the issues and candidates.

Why We Should Vote

* To speak your mind:

Your vote is your choice. It tells the candidates and elected officials how you feel about important issues.

* To make them listen:

Your vote is your voice, too. When we turn out to vote, you can bet that the politicians know it – and you can be sure, when we all crank up that voice, they’ll pay attention to what we say.

* For our community:

Do you ever wonder why one neighborhood seems to get it all? And why certain groups of citizens get it all? One big reason is voting. When we vote, we get results.

* For our children:

Our children can’t vote-so we have to do it for them. That’s how we make our views known about safety, schools, borrowing, debt, and the environment and other issues that will affect our childrens future in Floyd County.

* To control our future:

Elected officials make decisions that affect our daily lives. The individuals we vote for will make decisions about our quality of life.

* To stop something:

Voting let’s you stop complaining about things going on in our community. It puts you the voter in the driver’s seat instead of under the bus!

* To win:

In every election year, some races are decided by just a handful of votes. Those who vote demand respect. When we vote, we win.

The right of the people to vote is invaluable in the creation of local government that is bound to the will of “ALL” the people.

Freedom Of Speech would like to say:

We are urging each of you to take the time to do your part and Vote Tuesday November 2th…


Eats, shoots and leaves

Here’s my new Sun column about Chinese overseas investment in Zambia — and Canada.

Great Britain decolonized the African country of Zambia in the mid-20th century. China has recolonized it in the early 21st.

The story is the same throughout the Third World from Sudan to Kazakhstan: China invests in a poor country in return for strategic benefits, usually an oilfield or a mine. Besides getting cash, local dictators get a weapons dealer and a protector at the United Nations.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and China is filling the one left by the global retreat of the West and Russia.

Two weeks ago, Zambian workers at a Chinese-owned coal mine protested their poor pay and working conditions.

The mine’s Chinese executives evidently thought the hungry miners needed more lead in their diet since they took out their guns and shot 11 of them.

The Chinese government’s first response was to say its managers “mistakenly hurt” the miners. That didn’t wash, so now it has very generously directed their coal company to pay the medical bills for the men they shot.

In return, China has insisted that those who “incited the riots” be brought to justice. Just to be clear, it means the miners.

China has invested

0 million in Zambia. This spring, China paid .6 billion to buy a 9% stake in the Canadian company Syncrude. And that follows billions more invested in other oilsands companies in 2009.

Big Chinese investments in Canada’s strategic oilsands would have been unlikely five years ago. Under George W. Bush, the United States would have used diplomatic pressure to keep China out of its sphere of influence.

But Barack Obama isn’t big on concepts like the American national interest. He’s more interested in subsidizing electric cars than securing Canada’s 170 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Sensing no pushback, more Chinese investment is sure to come. China is sitting on .65 trillion in foreign currency reserves, and as Obama racks up the largest deficits in U.S. history, China is nervous about buying more U.S. treasury bills.

The oilsands are an attractive alternative: A long-term strategic investment in a stable country that just happens to be in America’s backyard. It’s not unthinkable that China would invest 0 billion here.

Is this good or bad for Canada? Both.

It would be nice to get some Chinese money for a change. There’s a myth that Canada-China trade is important. But it’s a one-way street.

We buy billion worth of their goods a year, but they only buy billion from us, mainly raw materials. That’s just 2% of our exports, less than what the U.K. buys from us. By comparison, CSIS estimates that China steals

 billion a year from us through industrial espionage.

Selling oilsands companies to China isn’t about their right to buy, it’s about Canadian businessmen’s right to sell. And if Finance Minister Jim Flaherty can sell government debt to China, why can’t Joe Oilman sell his shares?

We have to be on guard for the Emirates Airlines problem, of course. When a foreign government poses as a company, it can become a bullies if it doesn’t like Canadian corporate regulations.

Emirates Airlines’ owner, the government of the United Arab Emirates, kicked Canada out of an airbase there when we wouldn’t grant them more landing slots. United Airlines couldn’t do that, because they’re not part of a sovereign state.

It’s inconceivable that Chinese owners would shoot Canadian workers. But it’s not inconceivable that China would respond to regulatory rulings it didn’t like by banning imports of Canadian beef or wheat.

We’ll need to be on guard for that. But for now, the advantages clearly outweigh that risk. With blowhards like U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi disparaging our oil, it’s nice to know we have other, eager investors.

We should fast-track the proposed pipeline to the West Coast, too, so we can sell the oil itself to Asia. We’ve only got two years to build it, before a new, more attentive U.S. president is elected.

Ezra Levant

Wall Street Journal: MySpace, Apps Leak User Data; Site Sends Personal IDs When Ads Are Clicked

A few days after its report about privacy problems with Facebook’s applications, the Wall Street Journal reports on similar problems at social-networking site MySpace, “which had 58 million visitors in the U.S. in September.”
MySpace and some popular applications on the social-networking site have been transmitting data to outside advertising companies that could be used [...]
Privacy Lives

Associated Press: Migrant workers, privacy concerns are top difficulties for China’s once-a-decade census

The Associated Press reports on privacy questions with the census in China:
Counting millions of migrant workers and citizens’ privacy concerns are among the biggest difficulties facing China as it prepares for the world’s largest census next month, an official said Wednesday.
Six million census takers will be deployed across the country Nov. 1-10 to account for [...]
Privacy Lives

Excellent EFF post on failures of Cryptography regulation

The EFF has an excellent article on eight reasons why government regulation of cryptography is a bad idea.

The short answer is: the bad guys can easily get it and use it anyway, and it will make security for the rest of us much worse (not including the big brother surveillance  and constitutional issues).

The Privacy Blog

Sun TV!

Today Pierre-Karl Peladeau, the president of Quebecor, announced that I will be joining the new Sun TV all-news channel. I’ll have a daily news analysis show, based in Toronto. 

I’m looking forward to it. Here’s the official announcement. Please sign up on the website to receive details about the channel’s debut in the future:

Gemini-nominated journalist Krista Erickson, and columnist Ezra Levant are the latest additions to the growing SUN TV NEWS team. Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor Inc., Quebecor Media Inc. and Sun Media Corporation made the announcement today speaking to the Economic Club of Canada in Calgary. Krista Erickson joins the hard news team as a reporter and daytime news anchor. Ezra Levant will bring his outspoken nature to prime time as a straight talk host.

“I am very pleased to have Krista and Ezra join the hard news, straight talk SUN TV NEWS team,” said Mr. Péladeau. “Both of them have the experience and personality we are looking for to deliver a new and exciting product for Canadians.”

“With her extensive track record in the hard news business, Krista will add depth and perspective to the breaking stories of the day,” added Mr. Péladeau. “Ezra isn’t afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. Whether it’s his national crusade for freedom of speech, or his refreshing and contrarian take on the oilsands. Fans and foes alike won’t want to miss a minute of his show.”

“Along with SUN TV NEWS host Charles Adler, Krista and Ezra all hail from Western Canada. With SUN TV NEWS the west will be in,” concluded Péladeau.

Krista Erickson’s career began in 1999 in her hometown of Winnipeg at CBC Manitoba. In 2004, she was appointed host of CBC Manitoba’s supperhour newscast “CBC News at Six”. A frequent contributor to CBC network programs, “Marketplace” and “The National”, Erickson joined CBC’s Parliamentary bureau as a network correspondent in 2006 where she specialized in public safety and national security issues and consumer affairs.

A lawyer by profession, Levant first started writing for the Calgary Sun in 1995 and his articles are also published in the Edmonton Sun. He was the founder of the Western Standard news magazine, and is the author of bestselling books, including “Shakedown” and the recently released “Ethical Oil.”

Ezra Levant

Associated Press: Review: Privacy issues, lateness marred NY primary

The Associated Press reports on an audit from the Office of the New York State Comptroller concerning problems in the state primary elections:
A state review of new voting machines used for the first time in New York City last month shows numerous problems ranging from lack of privacy to polling sites opening late in all five [...]
Privacy Lives

Rejecting Anonymity, Making Authors Accountable

Since it’s birth the Internet has relied upon the interaction of its users for content – now social media and Web 2.0 technologies have propelled user generated content to the forefront, and concern is mounting over the impact of allowing people to post material online anonymously.

Reuters recently became the latest site to prohibit anonymous comment, although how effective the new posting rules are remains to be seen, as there is seeminlgy nothing to stop someone registering an account using a false name.  The anonymous nature of the internet presents a whole host of problems to sites which rely on user generated content, especially where the volume of material submitted is so great that effective moderation isn’t practical.  By letting users upload videos without verifying their identity, Youtube has provided a platform that is regularly used to distribute pirated content; many message boards are plastered with abusive, hateful comments from anonymous posters; and anonymity is more than likely a factor contributing to ‘low quality’ discussion and information online.

However, the anonymous nature of the net has also been leveraged by Wikileaks to encourage the submission of sensitive information; it is arguable that the absence of repercussions leads to greater honesty online; and there are many cases where anonymity is necessary.  In defence of online anonymity Andrew Alexander of the Washington Post writes:

For every noxious comment, many more are astute and stimulating. Anonymity provides necessary protection for serious commenters whose jobs or personal circumstances preclude identifying themselves. And even belligerent anonymous comments often reflect genuine passion that should be heard.

Reuters are far from alone in their efforts to curb anonymous posting – Amazon encourages people to use their real names, verified by cardholder details, when writing reviews because they believe that material attributed this way will be of higher quality: since an author willing to sign his or her real-world name on a piece of content is essentially saying “With my real-world identity, I stand by what I have written here.”

Blizzard, the publisher of the blockbuster game Starcraft 2 released earlier this year, now requires users to post under their real names in community forums:

Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before.

In light of potential liability for libellous comment appearing on their pages, website operators have more to worry about than the quality of user generated content, and while anonymity online is not going away any time soon, we may be witnessing the beginning of a trend towards accountability for otherwise anonymous posters.

Azrights IP Brands blog – from the team at Azrights Intellectual Property and Technology Solicitors

Cybercasing the Joint: On the Privacy Implications of Geotagging

There has been debate recently on questions about personal privacy that can arise from “geotagging” photographs or videos — embedding GPS location data — and then publishing those photos on Web sites or social-networking services such as Twitter or Facebook. A report from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute and [...]
Privacy Lives