Abbott Lab Suffers Setback in Bid for Exclusivity of EYE-Q Trademark

April 13, 2015

Abbott Laboratories, the company responsible for bringing the nutrition drink ENSURE, which is popular among seniors and the elderly, has suffered a set back in the Philippines in relation to its infant formula bearing the trademark EYE-Q.  A local businessman applied for the trademark EYE Q in connection with school and office supplies in Class 16.  Abbott opposed the application claiming that it is the first to use and register the trademark EYE-Q in the Philippines in connection with infant formula.  Abbott alleged that since the application covers an identical trademark, registration is barred by Sections 123.1(d) to (g) of the IP Code.  Abbott further argued that the goods covered by the application are within its natural zone of potential business expansion.

The BLA rejected the opposition convinced that no consumer can possibly be deceived by the Applicant’s trademark and mistakenly purchase the Applicant’s goods while intending to purchase the Abbott’s goods.  On appeal, the Director General upheld the dismissal noting that the parties’ trademarks cover different and unrelated goods thereby negating likelihood of confusion.  The Director General rejected Abbott’s argument that the Applicant’s goods, i.e. school and office supplies, are within its natural zone of business expansion.  It noted that Abbott failed to explain why dealing with office supplies can be considered a normal expansion of its infant formula business.

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IPOPHIL Ranks FEDERIS as One of the Top Filers in 2014

February 13, 2015

The Philippine Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHIL) announced the names of the most active trademark and patent filers for the year 2014.  The rankings were based on data compiled by the IPOPHIL from tracking the number of filings made by law firms during the 2014 calendar year.  FEDERIS was ranked second in overall trademark filings, and was listed among the top twenty in patent filings.

The top filers were honored in a luncheon hosted by the Director General on December 15, 2014.  The luncheon was attended by government officials and guests and also by representatives of law firms and companies.  According to the Director General, data for trademark and patent filings show yearly increase, attesting to the integrity and reliability of the system that the IPOPHIL has placed while under his watch, and affirming great confidence that the filers have in the system.  He had only praises and appreciation for those who have placed their trust in the IPOPHIL, and by this, he referred to the law firms for being in the forefront of the IPOPHIL’s strong showing year in and year out. The event was the occasion to thank these lawyers and to recognize among them the most active user of the IP system in the country.

For FEDERIS, the event puts in the spotlight what it has always been in the area of IP practice: an unassuming, quiet firm, but with the fire and dedication of the biggest law firms in the country, and standing head-to-head with them when the statistics come in.

FEDERIS Named One of Philippines’ Top Trademark Firms by WTR 1000

January 31, 2015

FEDERIS and its managing partner, Mila Federis, have been recognized by World Trademark Review (WTR) for inclusion in the 2015 edition of the WTR 1000. In its debut, FEDERIS, as a firm, was praised for its “strong growth and A-list clients”. The publication also recognized the firm’s successes in filing opposition cases on behalf of Yahoo! and Universal City Studios. On the litigation side, the group was acknowledged for successfully representing Philips in a dispute involving trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.

Managing Partner, Mila Federis, who is no stranger to the WTR 1000 rankings, has been praised as a “standout” trademark practitioner and recognized for her “IP nous and international experience”. In the 2015 edition, she was also proclaimed as being the “go-to enforcement lawyer” in the Philippines and applauded for her skill and dedication to IP practice.

According to the publication, the “patronage of such brand-conscious rights holders is a clear indication of the quality of services on offer at Federis & Associates”.

For information on the methodology behind WTR 1000, visit the World Trademark Review’s website.

FEDERIS Sponsors INTA’s Regional Conference: Springtime for Trademarks in Japan

January 31, 2015

Federis & Associates is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the International Trademark Association’s regional conference entitled Springtime for Trademarks in Japan. The conference will be held on March 26-27, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

According to INTA’s website, the conference will be an “intermediate-level educational event, will be conducted in both the Japanese and the English languages, and will be an ideal venue for trademark owners to meet with outside counsel and foreign associates. Attendees will be able to forge new business relationships with other participants from the region and interact with a number of government representatives.”

The conference is a good opportunity to bring together trademark professionals and high-level government officials from all over the world to discuss trademark topics that are important to Japanese brand owners and practitioners, with relevant perspectives provided by experts from the Asia-Pacific region. Participants can learn from experts who will discuss topics of interest to the trademark community, including the latest trademark developments and trends in the ASEAN countries. The firm’s support for this event strengthens its commitment and interest in bringing together experts, policy makers and professionals to engage in dialogue on important trademark issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region, in particular the South East Asia region which comprises the fastest growing economies in the world.

Visit INTA’s website for more information.

Film Makes The Music

January 29, 2015

A local recording and music publishing company in the Philippines attempted to register “UNIVERSAL RECORDS and U Design” for cassette tapes, compact discs, laser discs, digital audiotapes in Class 9. Universal City Studios Inc. (“UCSI”) opposed the application claiming prior rights based on its earlier registration for UNIVERSAL for entertainment services in Class 41, films in Class 9, printed matters in Class 16, clothing in Class 25 and based on the international fame of its UNIVERSAL trademark. UCSI is part of the Universal group, the giant worldwide entertainment company whose businesses extend to movie, television, music, theme parks and a host of other entertainment products.

The applicant countered that its use of UNIVERSAL RECORDS on music albums will not create any confusion or deception among relevant consumers, arguing that its music albums are not related to UCSI’s motion pictures and films. UCSI pointed out, however, that music-making has been part of its long business history where its trademark UNIVERSAL has been consistently used until today and in tandem with its film production. UCSI maintained that music and film are closely related even while it presented proof to support its claim that its UNIVERSAL trademark is internationally famous and therefore enjoys expanded protection even for unrelated goods and services. UCSI also presented evidence showing that applicant was using UNIVERSAL RECORDS and U Design in bad faith.

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Mizuno Loses Bid to Protect Its “Runbird” Logo in the Philippines

January 26, 2015

The “Runbird” logo is a recognizable symbol, which identifies Japanese-based Mizuno Corporation and its sportswear products. This free-flowing, graphic symbol has been compared to other famous logos of leading sportswear companies, such as the three stripes of Adidas and the unmistakable swoosh of industry giant Nike. It is therefore not surprising that Mizuno aggressively protects its “Runbird” logo worldwide.

In the Philippines, Mizuno opposed the application for “ERKE & DEVICE” owned by Fujian Hongxing Erke Sports Goods Co., Ltd. Mizuno contends that the device portion of Fujian’s mark is confusingly similar to its “Runbird” logo. The Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) dismissed the opposition and ruled that the device in Fujian’s mark is not identical to the “Runbird” logo in Mizuno’s mark. The BLA pointed out that there are observable differences in the angles, slants and curves, specifically noting the presence of a triangular-shaped hole in the lower middle portion of Mizuno’s device, which is absent in Fujian’s mark. The BLA further explained that Fujian’s mark is a composite mark consisting of a device and the word “ERKE”. Neither the device nor the word “ERKE” is the dominant feature of Fujian’s mark. Instead, the device and “ERKE” complement each other to form a mark with a character that is distinct from Mizuno’s mark. The BLA also noted that even assuming arguendo that there are similarities between the device portions of the parties’ marks, the addition of the word “ERKE” in Fujian’s mark made consumer confusion unlikely.

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Proposed Drug Name “OMEZOLE” Rejected as Identical to Generic Term “OMEPRAZOLE”

By:  Mila Federis

November 10, 2014

A recent decision of the Philippine Bureau of Legal Affairs (“BLA”) tackled the issue of distinctiveness in designations for pharmaceutical products.  In Westmont Pharmaceutical, Inc. vs. Platinum Pharmaceuticals (PVT), Ltd. (IPC No. 14-2011-00153), 22 September 2014, the applicant attempted to register “OMEZOLE” as a trademark for  “pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer, gastro-esophageal reflex disease (gerd) and management of zollinger Ellison syndrome”.  The application was opposed on grounds that OMEZOLE is confusingly similar to opponent’s registered trademark OMEPRON, which is also used in connection with “pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of ulcer and gastritis”.  Opponent further alleged that OMEZOLE resembles the generic name OMEPRAZOLE, a pharmaceutical drug used as proton pump inhibitor, and as such, registration is not permitted under Sections 123.1 (j) and 123.a(I) for being generic or descriptive.

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Philippines to Accede to the Nice and Vienna Agreements, STLT and the Hague Agreement in 2015

October 23, 2014

At the National Seminar on Industrial Designs and Trademarks hosted by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) last October 17, 2014, it was announced that in 2015 the Philippines plans to accede to the Nice and Vienna Agreements, to the Singapore Trademark Law Treaty, as well as to the Hague Agreement.

The IPOPHIL also disclosed that it is currently working on a proposal to amend some provisions of the Intellectual Property Code.

On the trademark side, the definition of a “trademark” will be amended to include any indication that can be graphically represented. The new definition is intended to accommodate the registration of non-traditional trademarks.  It was not clear which specific non-traditional marks will be covered.

Another amendment will be the elimination of the third year Declaration of Actual Use and the requirement of home registration as a condition for the registration of applications claiming convention priority.

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Philippines Announces Initiatives in support of ASEAN Integration

October 23, 2014

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) announced several initiatives that show its resounding support for the move to establish an ASEAN community.  These initiatives were discussed in a public forum held on October 17 participated by IP professionals and IP rights holders.

IPOPHIL disclosed its plan to launch sometime in 2015 an online and paper version of an ASEAN common trademark application form. IPOPHIL is also working with intellectual property offices in other ASEAN countries to begin the adoption of common substantive examination guidelines by January 2015.  Furthermore, the trademark records of intellectual property offices in some ASEAN member states have been compiled and are now accessible through a centralized web portal called ASEAN TMview.  They are also currently testing other web portals that could serve as a central record of goods and services classification in ASEAN countries (ASEAN TMClass) and as a search tool for industrial design registrations (Designview) in the ASEAN countries. These web portals will be available in a multilingual format.

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Honda’s Attempt to Enforce Copyright for its Engine Designs Backfires

October 1, 2014

Is the appearance of an engine design copyrightable? This question was answered by the Court of Appeals in the case of TLA Corporation, et al. vs. Honda Motor Company Ltd. and the National Library (CA-G.R. CV No. 98777, Aug. 5, 2014).

Intellectual property owners sometimes seek copyright protection when its product designs fail to meet the requirements under trademark and patent laws.  This legal experimentation led Honda Motor Company Ltd. (Honda) to seek copyright protection for its engine designs.  Under Section 172 (h) of the Intellectual Property Code (IP Code), copyright protection is available for literary and artistic works that include “original ornamental design or models for articles of manufacture, whether or not registrable as an industrial design, and other works of applied art.”  The National Library granted Honda several copyright registrations for its engine designs. Honda then took steps to enforce its rights by sending cease and desist letters to local distributors of other engine brand, who it believed copied the layout and color-scheme of its “copyrighted” engine designs. Instead of giving in to Honda’s demands, however, the local distributors banded together and filed a petition in the regional trial court seeking the cancellation of Honda’s copyright registrations.  The distributors argued that Honda’s engine designs are not literary and artistic works, or works of applied art, which are entitled to copyright protection.  In response, Honda argued that while some aspects of the engine’s designs are utilitarian and dictated by some scientific process, other aspects are purely artistic and should be considered works of art.  Honda cited as an example the design feature that color-codes the various components of its general purpose engine.  Honda also relied on the specifications of the general purpose engine, which were appended to its applications for copyright registrations to show that its designs had artistic value.

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