Online Traders Falling Short of EU Law Standards for Consumer Protection

The EU Consumer Rights Directive (the Directive) came into force in 2011 and was implemented in the UK by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellations and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Its aim is to protect consumers when shopping ‘away from business premises’, and is often most applicable when shopping online. It sets out minimum information requirements that traders must adhere to, such as identifying the trader and the total price of the goods or services (including taxes and additional charges), and providing access to an online dispute resolution (ODR) platform. All information must be presented in a ‘clear and comprehensible’ manner for consumers. The full list of information requirements can be found at Article 6 of the Directive.

In order to assess compliance with the Directive, the European Commission, with the help of the Consumer Protection Cooperation network across Europe (CPC), annually instructs consumer protection authorities in different countries to undertake an EU wide screening (which they call a ‘sweep’) of online traders’ websites. The latest sweep assessed traders offering a variety of goods, services and digital content, including clothing, computer software and entertainment tickets, whilst previous sweeps have reviewed sites providing services and price comparison tools in the travel sector. The CPC then analyses the different information requirements to establish where ‘irregularities’ of non-compliance exist, and presents a report showing compliance across the EU. Continue Reading

NY Attorney General Files Fraud Claims Against Bitfinex and Tether

A showdown is underway between the New York Attorney General’s Office and the companies that own and operate the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and issue the stablecoin tether.  In short, after months of investigation, the AG’s office has filed a lawsuit under New York’s Martin Act (the NY laws regulating securities and commodities fraud) against the Bitfinex and Tether companies alleging that they may have defrauded Bitfinex customers and tether owners.  At the commencement of the lawsuit on April 24, 2019, the AG’s office obtained a court order compelling the Bitfinex and Tether companies to produce documents and information necessary for the AG’s Martin Act investigation and prohibiting the companies from continuing to engage in certain transactions with each other.  The companies have responded, disputing the AG’s allegations and asking the court to vacate the order.  At a hearing on May 6, 2019, New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen upheld the order compelling Bitfinex and the Tether companies to produce certain documents and information as well as the injunction.  But Justice Cohen expressed concern about the injunction’s breadth and clarity, and he gave the parties a week to negotiate a new injunctionThis dispute has crucial implications for both the regulation and market perception of cryptocurrency, so the industry will watch it closely. Continue Reading

Options for Amending Patents Challenged under the America Invents Act

On April 22, 2019, the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) published a notice in the Federal Register regarding the existing options available for Patent Owners to amend their patents during or after an America Invents Act (“AIA”) challenge proceeding. This notice did not amend or alter existing USPTO practices, but instead summarized and clarified three existing options available for Patent Owners to amend patents challenged under the AIA. The notice is a reminder that, while the obvious amendment option for a patent under an AIA challenge is a motion to amend (“MTA”), reissue and reexamination proceedings initiated by a Patent Owner are important alternatives and may provide an added benefit, in that the patent challenger has limited or no involvement in such proceedings. Continue Reading

Changes in China Concerning the Trademark Law and the Trade Secret Provisions of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law Address Concerns of Western Countries

Recent cases of trademark theft involving Chinese employees of US companies and China’s ever rampant phenomenon of trademark squatting have emerged as very critical areas of dispute between China and several Western countries. On April 23, 2019, two new sets of regulations were adopted by China’s State Council addressing these concerns. Both introduce more effective legal tools to protect foreign IP assets in China. One set  enables the Chinese trademark office to do more preventive clean-up work of fraudulent trademark applications, while extending the liabilities of squatters and their filing agents. The other set provides for a more severe punishment of the infringers while lightening the right holder’s burden of proof, thus making it easier to bring cases of trade secret violation to justice. Continue Reading

Squire Patton Boggs Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day

The theme for this year is “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports.” Accordingly, the Global Intellectual Property & Technology Blog would like to acknowledge the contributions of all innovators and creators involved in sports, as well as the commitment of the professionals who help secure and enforce their intellectual property and resolve intellectual property issues.    Continue Reading

Employment Adverts – making sure you have the right tools for the job

Advertising agencies aren’t often employed to create interesting concepts for job adverts and it is easy to forget that, just like any other advertisement, job ads must abide by the rules of the CAP Code (the Code). In fact, there is a whole section of the Code dedicated to marketing communications for employment, business opportunities and homeworking schemes as well as online advice on recruitment and business opportunity advertising.

The ASA has recently published some updated guidance on getting job advertisements right. We have summarised the key takeaways and how to avoid the potential pitfalls below. Continue Reading

Scripts and Copyright: Application ‘Pitched’ Out of Court

Seeking an interim injunction to protect against copyright infringement can often run into difficulties, as demonstrated by the recent judgment in Happy Camper Productions Ltd v British Broadcasting Corporation [2019] EWHC 558 (Ch).

The dispute centred on the script for an episode of ‘Pitching in’, a comedy-drama programme by the BBC about a widower in a Welsh caravan camp (the Episode). The Claimant sought an interim injunction to prevent the BBC from broadcasting the Episode, claiming copyright infringement in a script, written by one of its directors, which was also a comedy about life and death in a Welsh caravan site (the Script).

Another of the Claimant’s directors had, some years previously, met a BBC producer, and said they shared the Script with her. The Claimant argued that the Defendant then copied the idea and features of the expression of that idea in the Script by producing the Episode. Continue Reading

Further Changes for Patent Validity Challenges at the PTAB May Favor Patentees

The America Invents Act’s creation of patent challenge proceedings to be conducted by the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) provided a powerful tool for challenging patent validity outside of costly litigation proceedings. But recent events are changing the strategic advantage that such proceedings may hold for patent challengers.

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More About Using the ® and ™ Symbols on Your Trademarks – a U.S. Perspective

On April 9, 2019, my IP colleagues Kerry Lee and Matt Jones published an informative post about using the ® and ™ trademark symbols – which are internationally used and recognized to signal trademark registration. As their post had a UK perspective, we thought it would be useful to provide a US perspective as well.

US trademark law is governed by the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq.  The Lanham Act does not require notice of US trademark registration as a condition of trademark protection or continued registration. However, as Kerry’s and Matt’s article recognized, failure to use the trademark registration symbol or other notice after registration might limit a trademark owner’s rights – specifically, the right to obtain monetary damages from an infringer of a US-registered mark.  A registrant would still be able to obtain injunctive relief and attorney’s fees in appropriate cases – but not monetary damages or a profits award for infringement that occurred before the infringer had actual notice of the registration.

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