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Showing posts from August, 2014

Who's Pink - Thomas Pink or Victoria's Secret?

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In Thomas Pink Limited v Victoria's Secret UK Ltd [2014] EWHC 2631 (Ch) (31 July 2014) Mr Justice Birss had to resolve a dispute between two well known retailers. The claimant was Thomas Pink which had started life as a specialist shirt maker in Jeremyn Street. It is now part of the LVMH Group the interests of which range from champagne to fashion.

The defendant was Victoria's Secret UK which is best known for its bras and knickers particularly in the US where it began.

Both retailers are diversifying their businesses.  Thomas Pink's website has a section for "Women" after "New Collection", "Men", "Shirts", "Ties" and "Accessories" while Victoria's Secret is moving into women's clothing generally.

The Dispute The battle arose over the right to use the word "Pink" as a brand. According to Wikipedia the claimant was named after Thomas Pink, an 18th-century tailor, who made the hunting coats worn by …

Monkey Business - copyright in a photo where the shutter is operated by an animal

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Can a monkey own copyright? Clearly not. At least not in England in at any rate for two reasons. First, a photograph is an artistic work (see s.4 (1) (a) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ("CDPA")) and s.1 (1) (a) makes clear that copyright subsists in an artistic work only if it is original. Now the threshold for originality is very high but it does connote independent skill and labour which goes beyond monkeying around with a smart phone button. Even if the monkeying is done by a human being. Indeed even if it is done by a photographer. The other reason is that s.1 (3) provides that
"Copyright does not subsist in a work unless the requirements of this Part with respect to qualification for copyright protection are met (see section 153 and the provisions referred to there)." Well those qualifications relate to nationality, residence and incorporation. Monkeys just don;t meet any of those criteria.

What about the camera or smart phone owner? If the mon…

Ifejika v Ifejika - another case about design rights and contact lenses

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In Ifejika v Ifejika and another [2011] EWPCC 31 (23 Nov 2011) His Honour Judge Birss QC (as he then was) ordered among other things an inquiry (or alternatively, by implication, an account) in relation to a lens care product the design rights in which he held to have been infringed by the claimant's brother by of a competing product. The claimant elected an account of profits and this came on before HH Judge Hacon on 17 June 2014 (Ifejika v Ifejika and another [2014] EWHC 2625 (IPEC) (31 July 2014)).

This case is interesting for two reasons. First, it was an account of profits rather than an inquiry as to damages. Accounts are not common in intellectual property cases. Secondly, neither side was legally represented at the hearing so the judge had to do justice as best he could. He was therefore bound to explain the principles by which an account is to be taken.

A factor that might have applied in other circumstances was that the defendant could have applied for a licence of righ…