GossIP: Trade marks, Copyright

27 April 2016

GossIP is a brief summary of a few recent legal developments in the IP, Technology and Media space:

IKEA loses trade mark in Indonesia

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has lost its right to use the IKEA trade mark in Indonesia.  Local furniture company Intan Khatulistiwa Esa Abadi lodged an application for a trade mark in Indonesia in December 2013 and were subsequently granted the rights to use the brand name “Ikea”.  Whilst Swedish IKEA had registered a trade mark in Indonesia in 2010, they had not used that trade mark for three consecutive years.  Indonesian law states that if a trade mark is not used in that time, it may be removed.  IKEA have the right to appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court or they can pay royalties to the Indonesian trade mark owner to use their trade mark.

Australian law is similar to Indonesian law in that IP Australia can remove a trade mark if it is not used for a continuous period of three years, but it will first give the trade mark owner an opportunity to respond and oppose any application lodged.

Stairway to heaven or stairway to the courts?

Led Zeppelin band members are due to face court over accusations that they stole the riff from the famous “Stairway to Heaven” song from a 1967 track called “Taurus” by Spirit.  A trustee for Taurus composer Randy Wolfe, filed the lawsuit claiming that “Stairway to Heaven” was written after the band had toured with Spirit in the late 1960s.  In defence of the lawsuit, Led Zeppelin’s band members are arguing that the chord progressions are widely known and should not be protected by copyright.  The claim will now progress to a trial as the judge hearing the case has ruled that there were “substantial similarities” between the two songs.

Similar copyright laws exist in Australia.  A few years ago John Butler Trio brought a lawsuit against a yoghurt company for the use of their song “Zebra” in an advertisement shown on television during the US Super Bowl.  We will monitor the case and provide an update in our next newsletter.

Kylie Jenner or Kylie Minogue? The battle of the brands

Kylie Jenner, part of the Kardashian family, has become famous around the globe.  In August 2015 Jenner applied to register the word mark “Kylie” with the United States Patent and Trade mark Office for advertising and promotional services. In February 2016 Jenner applied for an additional “Kylie” trade mark for use in entertainment services.

Kylie Minogue filed an opposition to the August 2015 trade mark on the grounds that it would confuse fans and had the potential to harm Minogue’s brand.  Minogue currently has 17 registered trade marks in Australia including the word mark “Kylie”.  She also owns the domain name ‘kylie.com’.

Whilst Minogue is particularly well known in Australia and the UK, Kylie Jenner arguably has a greater global following.  It will be interesting to see if the opposition proceedings are successful.  We will keep you posted.

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