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IP Annual Review: Trade Marks, Designs & Copyright

Issue 4: February 2021

IP Annual Review: Trade Marks, Designs & Copyright

Trade Marks: Validity and Registration

In 2020, the Courts and trade mark registries considered a number of interesting questions relating to trade mark protection – shapes and colours continue to present issues when it comes to registrability, and guidance has been given on marks that might be considered contrary to accepted principles of morality.


Trade Mark Infringement and Passing Off

Alongside the long-running SkyKick case, the Courts have dealt with a range of enforcement issues, particularly arising from the use of brands online, as well as clarifying some concepts such as post-sale confusion in passing off, and 'bait and switch' selling.


Copyright & Design

The Courts continue to develop the position in relation to the overlap between copyright and designs, following the CJEU's Cofemel decision, as well as the approach to cases concerning communication to the public.


Brexit and IP Rights

With the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020, rights holders have had to ensure that their portfolios are properly protected. Whilst the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement minimised disruption for rights holders, there are some outstanding issues to resolve.


Confidential Information

Following the Trade Secrets Directive 2018, cases are starting to come before the Courts to determine the interplay between the Directive (and the implementing Regulations) and the existing UK law relating to misuse of confidential information.


Wider Developments in IP Protection and Enforcement

Whilst the UK has left the EU, it remains important for businesses operating across both territories to monitor developments in IP protection and enforcement. These include, for example, the EU Digital Services Act which contains a package of measures relating to the regulation of internet intermediaries, and the UK's plans as part of its Online Safety regulatory framework.


COVID-19 and Brand Protection

COVID-19 presented a number of challenges for IP owners globally in relation to their IP portfolios. In the early stages of the outbreak, there was a range of responses from national and regional IP offices, reflecting its spread, with many adapting their practices and, in some cases, suspending compliance with time limits.

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