After cancelling the BIG MAC trademark in the EU, Irish fast food chain Supermac's has continued its offensive against McDonald's, this time petitioning to cancel its MC trademark in the EU. In another blow to the multinational fast-food giant, the EUIPO has partially cancelled the MC mark on the basis of a lack of use as a standalone mark as it is exclusively used as a prefix, only retaining chicken nuggets and some sandwiches.
While McDonald's will continue to maintain its registrations for products containing the "Mc" prefix, such as "McNuggets" and "McFlurry", the EUIPO determined that there is no use of the MC mark by itself. The question, then, is if the addition of these other elements altered the distinctiveness of the mark. The EUIPO Cancellation Division determined that, if paired with a descriptive element such as a "Muffin" (ie. as in "McMuffin"), the additional element does not add to the distinctiveness of the mark.
McDonald's will most certainly appeal the decision; however, the partial cancellation of the MC trademark is a reminder that giants aren't immune to challenges by the "little guy".
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A competitor to popular children’s animated TV series Peppa Pig has come to the playground—a tapir with the mark “TOBBIA”.
The show Peppa Pig is known for its 2-dimensional drawings and centers around Peppa, a young pig, her family and friends. Its creation over a decade ago has become an icon for young children around the world.
In April 2015, Entertainment One UK Ltd and Astley Baker Davies, owners of the Peppa Pig Mark filed an application for a declaration of invalidity against Xianhao Pan’s trademark for “TOBBIA”. Both marks are associated with Class 25 "clothing".
The case was originally heard by the EUIPO Cancellation Division and, to much surprise, the court held the marks were not confusingly similar. The decision was appealed to the EUIPO First Board of Appeal. It was here that the marks were reviewed for similarities and differences, visually, aurally and conceptually.
In regards to the visual similarities, the Appeal Board found the shape of the head and snout to be almost identical as well as the ears, cheeks and eyes. In addition, the shape of the bodies was also found to be very similar.
The elements of the word were also considered. The Board noted that aurally, the double letter in the middle of both words “Peppa” and “Tobbia” would be similar when spoken. Xianhao Pan's argument that the animal depicted in his mark was a tapir, not a pig, was dismissed by the board.
The Appeal Board declared the “TOBBIA” mark invalid in the EU for all goods.
For more information about EU trademarks, please contact us.
By Nathalie Siah.
Brexit is fast approaching on March 29, 2019. What will the impact be on IP rights?
Below is a summary of the key areas:
For trademarks, the effects will be minimal. The UK government has confirmed that in the event of a “No Deal Brexit”, equivalent rights will be granted in the UK that correspond to the EUTM registration. These rights will be created automatically and without cost to the owner. Registration certificates will not be issued by the UKIPO, but the details of these marks will be available on the database. For “pending” EUTMs, the applicant will have 9 months to apply for the same protections in the UK while retaining the priority date of the EU application. For pending applications, UK application fees will apply. The mark and the specification must be identical to, or at a minimum, contained within, the EUTM application.
There will be no change to the way patents are filed and prosecuted. The UK will remain a member of the European patent system, governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC) –completely separate from the EU. There are many non-EU members such as Iceland, Switzerland and Norway that are also part of the EPC. The European Patent Office (EPO) will continue to validate European patents in the UK and patent prosecution will follow suit.
Copyright has existed for centuries, prior to the formation of the EU. The UK and EU member states are part of several international treaties on copyright which do not depend on UK’s membership in the EU. Therefore, protection of copyright will be largely unchanged.
What may change
As the first country to leave the EU, the UK has the opportunity to deviate from established EU law. The threshold for copyright protection for example, may be of interest. Currently, the threshold in the EU for copyright is a “uniform test of originality, based on intellectual creation” established by the Infopaq case. However, prior to joining the EU, the originality threshold was far lower and the result of their “labour, skill or effort”. The UK may be inclined to revert back to this lower threshold once the UK leaves the EU if they so choose. Similar trends may be seen in patent and trademark jurisprudence emanating from the UK post-Brexit.
For more information on the effects of Brexit for Canadian IP owners, please contact Paula Clancy.