At Oral Proceedings we were involved with earlier this week, the Board of Appeal decided to refer questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal relating to the legality of holding Oral Proceedings before the Board of Appeal by video conference without consent of all parties. This referral may therefore put on hold Appeal hearings at the EPO whilst it remains difficult for parties to travel to Haar to attend Oral Proceedings in person.
In November 2019, Reddie & Grose reported on a decision of the UK IPO in relation to a partially-successful opposition by Unilever PLC to UK Application No 3298871. The applicant’s appeal against this decision has now been dismissed, despite an acknowledgement from the Appointed Person that “valid criticisms” had been made about Unilever’s evidence of use as part of their opposition. This case confirms the well-established principle that it is not essential to file specific types of evidence in order to prove use of a mark, but that the evidence as a whole must demonstrate genuine use. It also suggests that genuine use of a mark may be found even if the evidence filed relates to a precursor of the protected goods, rather than the protected goods themselves: in this case, the relevant protected goods were “ice cream”, while the evidence primarily related to sales of ice cream mix.
October was a bad month for shapes. Not only did the General Court confirm the cancellation Seven Town’s EU Trade Mark Registration for the 3D shape of its mind-boggling ‘Rubik’s Cube’ toy, the EUIPO’s Cancellation Division also declared Gibson Brands, Inc.’s Registration for a 2D depiction of the shape of its ‘Firebird’ or ‘Thunderbird’ guitars partially invalid.