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International Trademark Association (INTA) members should help stop the propagation of counterfeits, according to association president David Lossignol.

This comes after INTA released a report which showed up to 79% of 18-23-year-olds surveyed had purchased counterfeits in the past year.

Lossignol announced at the opening ceremony INTA’s Unreal Challenge, which is to encourage members of INTA to go to schools in their communities and teach students about the dangers of counterfeits.

“INTA is a strong community that is united under one group” said Lossignol.

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A new study published by the International Trademark Association (INTA) showed 79 percent of 18-23-year-olds surveyed bought a fake version of a branded product in the year prior to the study, and only 48 percent believed it was morally wrong to buy a counterfeit. Having surveyed 4,500 people in 10 countries, the report also showed that young people expect brands to align with and reflect their own morals and values.

With that in mind, one particular session at INTA: Brand meaning and valuation in the age of millennial consumerism, could offer remedies to these sentiments by connecting the two.

The session, headed by a diverse panel of four, first broke down the predilictions of these gen zs and millennials. “Over half of millennials read the label and look for sustainability,” says Carol Gustalder from Heart + Minds Strategies. Young people are considerably more likely to be conscious of the companies they buy from, and it is reflected in their buying habits.

So how do brands attain this good faith? “Brands will have to consider their corporate social responsibility to create this connection with the younger generation,” says Andrea Gerosa from ThinkYoung ASIBL. The session went on to highlight how building good faith in brands, through the preferred method of communication for this demographic (social media), could resonate with younger demographics.

“Gen z, who are more focused on saving money, might be susceptible to buying counterfeits.” Says David Haas of Stout. The session, with its focus on millennials and gen z, did not try to address the lack of income issue of buying fakes, as indicated in the study, but posed that companies that actively foster a good image could encourage more buying.

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More than 11,100 brand owners, trademark practitioners, and other intellectual property (IP) professionals from 150+ countries are gathering today through May 22 in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association (INTA) to discuss contemporary topics that impact brands, consumers, and local and global economies.

The event comes at a time when the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights takes on increased importance, and when brand owners worldwide are considering the opportunities and challenges in the rapidly changing global IP environment.

Among the more than 300 educational sessions, INTA’s just-released attitudinal study, Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products, will be the focus of a session on May 19; the multi-country study explores Gen Z’s relationship with brands and uniquely looks at purchasing decisions of both real and counterfeit products through a moral vs. practical lens.

At the Opening Ceremony on May 19, INTA President David Lossignol, Head of Trademarks, Domain Names and Copyrights at Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland, will issue a call “to make counterfeiting socially unacceptable,” as part of his presidential initiative, Brands for a Better Society.

Also at the Opening Ceremony, Michael Haddad, a United Nations climate change champion and record-holding professional athlete, will give an inspirational keynote address. After Mr. Haddad became paralyzed from the chest down due to an accident at age six, he taught himself to walk again through his belief in “turning disability into distinctive ability.”

The Annual Meeting draws trademark and other IP professionals from major corporations and law firms, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, service providers, and high-level officials from national, regional, and international IP offices.

Trademark-intensive industries contribute significantly to local economies, gross domestic product, and job growth. International trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, including digital piracy, is expected to skyrocket to as high as $2.81 trillion by 2020, according to study published in 2017 by INTA and the International Chamber of Commerce-BASCAP.

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Almost one-quarter of brands have had their domain targeted by cybercriminals, according to the latest global research report released by MarkMonitor. The report also highlighted that 62% of brands reported that cybercrime impacted their business in the last year.

Almost half of the sample believes brand infringement has increased over the last year, while 46% said that cyber threats influenced the development of their domain strategies. The report also highlighted that responsibility for domain management and security is siloed, with the following departments being responsible for domain management:
• IT / IT security – 46%
• Legal team – 16%
• Marketing – 13%
Only 13% of brands noted a combined approach – the industry best practice in mitigating risk.

Research surveyed 700 marketing, IT and legal decision-makers from across the U.K., U.S., Germany, France and Italy to understand attitudes toward and experiences with domain management, security, and wider online brand protection.

The most-cited challenges in managing domains include:
• Security – 56%
• Cost – 40%
• Keeping track of domains – 34%

These issues are intensified by the fact not all domains are even active — 56% of respondents own up to 100 domains, yet just 18% say more than three-quarters of these are active.

In addition, despite the wide acknowledgment of the importance of domains — 43% said they were a vital part of brand building and maintaining customer trust — many organizations aren’t being proactive in managing and securing them. This is especially true around the renewal process, with 26% of brands relying solely on renewal notices, 21% relying on just one person to manage the process, while 25% have a plan that involves cross-department collaboration.

The research also revealed 39% of brands have registered a generic top-level domain (gTLD) and 32% of that number experienced brand impersonation and abuse against it. In addition, 39% of brands say Brexit has impacted their domain strategy, while General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also played a role.

Nearly half of respondents (46%) said GDPR affected their domain strategy, with 18% saying they found it more difficult to enforce against infringements as a result.

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A House of Commons summit has thrown the spotlight on how British businesses need to educate themselves on intellectual property (IP) and how it can help them succeed in a tough economic climate – or if Britain leaves the EU.

Top IP institutions, law firms, universities and business leaders from the automotive industry attended the conference on Wednesday, April 24 hosted by the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) and backed by business intelligence solutions PatSnap.

The aim of the summit, held ahead of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) World IP Day (Friday April 26), was to encourage the influential attendees to work together to develop policy and support education that will help British businesses harness the benefits of IP to support innovation in order to stay competitive in a global marketplace.

Duncan Clark, director of Academy at Patsnap, said: “It is a well-known fact that 80% of a company’s value is in intangible assets such as IP, but unfortunately many British companies aren’t making it part of their business strategy. Instead, they’re only learning about IP when it’s far too late or when it becomes a legal issue.”

David Wong is senior tech and innovation manager at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, representing the views of the UK’s £82billion automotive industry. He commented: “Automotive is often seen as the “sunset industry” but I beg to differ. I see something more exciting and exhilarating than ever before and IP is the fulcrum of this transformation.”

Stephen Lambert is head of automotive electrification at McLaren Applied Technologies, a leader in the power electronic sector contributing nearly £50billion to the UK economy. He added: “In our world, we face rapid development, we have to fix problems quickly and have an innovative mindset. But IP isn’t in the average mindset of an engineer because filing patents means you lose your competitive advantage. We need to use IP more to retain our innovation culture and protect what we have.”

Chris Skidmore, minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said: “Britain is a world leader because of IP. It underpins everything we do in the economy itself and is fundamental to this country’s success. We need to provide a smooth and effective IP system regardless of Brexit and we need to be prepared for all eventualities, whatever the outcome. IP is not a “Cinderella” subject in government and we need to work together as one single IP community.”

According to WIPO, one of the biggest mistakes start-ups make is failing to create a well-thought-out IP strategy.

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Car manufacturer BMW prevails against the Finland-based rim manufacturer Vannetukku.fi Oy using signs similar to world-famous automotive trademarks of BMW for car parts (Decision of the Regional Court of Frankfurt/Main, case No 2-06 O 169/17, 28 January 2019).

Car manufacturer BMW claims that Vannetukku has infringed BMW’s trademark “BMW” Logo by using the logo “Blaukreuz” and the trademarks “M4”, “M5” and “M6” as regards the product labels “Mi4”, “Mi5” and “Mi6”. Pursuant to BMW’s position, Vannetukku’s “Blaukreuz” logo and the sings “Mi4”, “Mi5” and “Mi6” are each not sufficiently different from BMW’s trademarks.

Obviously, Vannetukku´s strategy is to be very close, but avoid infringement of the car industry´s famous trademark. Vannetukku not only infringes BMW’s mark but beyond that adapt well-known automotive marks systematically as model for their own brand series in order to increase own sales:

In case of BMW, Vannetukku attracted the attention of the car manufacturer BMW by offering rims for BMW vehicles featuring the logo “Blaukreuz” and the product labels “Mi4”, “Mi5” and “Mi6”:

At least in case of BMW AG, Vannetukku´s strategy proves unsuccessful, as the Regional Court of Frankfurt/Main recently confirmed. It takes the view, that Vannetukku has chosen its product labels to provoke a likelihood of confusion with BMW’s marks and, moreover, to purposely benefit from the outstanding repute of BMW‘s trademarks in the automotive sector. The “BMW” logo is one of the most valuable and well-known trademarks world-wide, as well as the trade mark series “M4”, “M5”, “M6” with the element “M” and an added Arabic number that indicates one model of BMW’s famous “M” sports car series since decades are famous for cars. .

The overall impression of the “BMW” logo is decisively shaped by the figurative element, the white and blue sectors enclosed by a black circle. Furthermore, the Court found that BMW’s marks “M4”, “M5”, and “M6” are each well-known trademark for vehicles as BMW has been using these trade marks for many years on a very large scale. By advertising rims under the sings “Mi4”, “Mi5”, and “Mi6” Vannetukku had taken unfair advantage of the reputation of the well-known trade marks “M4”, “M5” and “M6”.

The decision is not final yet.

Penned by Florian Schmidt-Sauerhöfer

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U.S. president Donald Trump yesterday signed a memorandum that aims to stop the trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods. The memorandum, outlines policies aimed at tackling counterfeits online and the administration’s goal to “protect American businesses, intellectual property rights holders [and] consumers…from the dangers and negative effects of counterfeit and pirated goods”.

The memorandum called for current efforts used by the Federal Government against online counterfeiting and piracy to be expanded and enhanced. It also orders comprehensive data regarding the extent of counterfeit trafficking through online third-party marketplaces.

Now, within 210 days of the signing ofthe memonrandum, a report on counterfeit and pirated goods trafficking will be published by various government officials and submitted to the president. The report will give information on the extent of counterfeits on online third-party marketplaces and identify factors which contribute to the trafficking of such goods.

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Red Points announced today that it has closed $38 million in funding, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $64 million. The round was led by Summit Partners, with additional participation from existing investors Northzone, Mangrove, Eight Roads Ventures and Banco Sabadell.

The continued growth in global ecommerce has driven an acceleration in online counterfeiting, shining a bright light on the need for IP infringement detection. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that the global economic value of counterfeiting and piracy could reach $4.2 trillion by 2022 and put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk over that time period.

Red Points’ platform leverages artificial intelligence to continuously connect a targeted web crawler to a rules-based rights management database that learns from each account’s history and improves the level of protection over time. Red Points’ proprietary software currently removes hundreds of thousands incidents of illegal products and content from the web monthly, across over 100 online marketplaces and social networks. Red Points’ solutions are used by over 550 brands worldwide including Bang & Olufsen, MVMT and DOPE. As a result of its successful expansion, the company’s growth rate exceeded 100% for 2018.

“Brands around the world are facing an unprecedented rise in online IP infringement.  Red Points is a category-leader, offering an intelligent and robust technology platform that is purpose-built to address this growing pain point,” said Steffan Peyer, Principal at Summit Partners. “With differentiated technology and a strong leadership team, we believe that Red Points is well positioned to accelerate its growth and further solidify its leadership in the Brand Intelligence market.”

Red Points expanded the brand protection offering on its platform last year with the launch of a new seller tracking solution and with the opening of their US headquarters in New York.

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With Brexit still rumbling on, Mike Sweeney, Senior Legal Counsel at brand protection provider Incopro, has provided his thoughts on the three possible scenarios of Brexit and what it could mean for UK Intellectual Property rights and businesses.

1. What it means for IP if we crash out of the EU with no deal

A “no deal” Brexit means exiting the European Union without any kind of formal arrangement in place in terms of a future relationship between the UK and EU. Since UK trade mark law is largely harmonised with European Union trade mark law, this has serious implications for rights holders; many businesses in the UK own intellectual property rights which are granted or otherwise administered by a European Union body – for example European Union Trade Marks and the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The position in relation to EU Trade Marks (“EUTMs”) is (currently) that, in the event of “no deal”, the government will grant holders of existing EUTMs an equivalent UK trade mark, recorded on the UK Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) register, at no cost to the rights holder. These rights will stand alongside the equivalent EU marks meaning they can be attacked, assigned, licensed etc separately and independently from the corresponding EUTM (resulting in additional burdens for brands in terms of policing, enforcing and administering rights). Rights owners are also expected to be given the option to opt-out of registering the new right.

2. What it means for IP if we accept Theresa May’s deal

The Withdrawal Agreement contains provisions concerning “retained law” which, in simple terms, means that on Brexit, the law (including intellectual property law) will stay the same unless and until Parliament enacts legislation to change it. The key implications for brands are that from the date of exiting the European Union up until the end of the transition period (currently set to last until at least 31 December 2020), the law will effectively stay the same – which is good news. At the end of the transition period, existing EU Trade Marks (“EUTM”) will continue to have effect in the EU and will also automatically be converted into equivalent UK rights with immediate effect (and at no cost to the brand). This will however give rise to additional burdens for brands in terms of policing, enforcing and administering rights since they will exist independently from one another and are therefore able to be to attacked, assigned, licensed etc separately and independently from the corresponding EUTM. The government has sought wherever possible to give brands and rights owners comfort by maintaining the status quo after Brexit – exiting the EU pursuant to the Withdrawal Agreement largely achieves that goal.

3. What it means for IP if Article 50 is revoked or there is a long delay

The Article 50 process can be stopped by the UK Government at any time. It can do this unilaterally (i.e without the need for buy-in from the EU). In those circumstances, the UK would continue as a European Union Member State on its current terms and would continue to be subject to (and benefit from) the intellectual property laws of the EU. Whilst it remains the Government’s firm policy not to revoke Article 50, the uncertainty which continues to engulf the Brexit process means that it cannot be ruled out. There may also now be a significant delay to Brexit, in view of Government failing (twice) to have won the “meaningful vote” in Parliament on the terms of the Brexit deal. If Brexit is delayed, businesses and brands will have to endure further uncertainty until the Government agrees a way forward. What happens from that point onwards is frankly anyone’s guess!

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Facebook is suing four Chinese companies that allegedly sold fake Facebook and Instagram accounts. The complaint was filed on March 1 in U.S. federal court and argues that the companies manage multiple websites promoting the sale of fake accounts since 2017. Three individuals and four companies are named in the lawsuit.

Facebook is seeking a ban on the companies from engaging in cybersquatting, as the companies were caught using web addresses like “myfacebook.cc,” “facebook88.net,” and “infacebook.cc.” and to receive all profits made from the accounts, plus an additional $100,000 for each instance of trademark infringement.

Facebook’s Vice President Paul Grewal said in an announcement Friday that the Chinese companies not only promoted the sale of fake Facebook and Instagram accounts but also Amazon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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