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IP round up - December 2021

Welcome to our latest monthly IP round-up. The aim is to highlight the latest developments in the IP world and look at those important IP issues businesses need to be aware of.

IP in the news

The Art Newspaper reports that a number of high profile artists are claiming NFTs linked to their designs for Stormtrooper helmets have been sold without permission


Ben Moore is the founder and curator of Art Below, a London-based contemporary art organisation that uses billboard space to showcase art. One of his projects involved major artists such as  David Bailey, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor designing Stormtrooper helmets. Various of these helmets were displayed at Saatchi Gallery.

NFTs based on these Stormtrooper helmets, including photographs of the helmets, were sold this year, allegedly without the original artists’ permission.
Ben Moore responded that the project was always a charitable endeavour and stated that the project’s proceeds were going to the Missing People charity. Reports now say the artists are still however “working out and coordinating their next steps for seeking full legal redress”.
 
The dispute is an important illustration of the type of IP issue which can arise in the NFT space as artists and buyers explore the innovative new digital content.
 
Read more >

The Fashion Law reports on Shein owner’s claims that Dr. Martens’ trade marks are generic

 
The owner of the Dr. Martens brand, AirWair, has issued trade mark proceedings in the California federal court against Zoetop (which operates both Shein and Romwe). AirWair alleges that Zoetop has copied its “yellow welt stitching; a grooved sole edge; an angled heel; a two-tone sole edge” and other features including a “yellow and black heel loop”. Zoetop has now alleged that these elements cannot operate as trade marks as they are generic.  This is an interesting case to watch, given the challenge to a number of the key trade mark registrations in AirWair’s portfolio which it relies on to enforce contended rights in the trade dress of a wide range of Dr Martens boots.

Read more >

The Fashion Law reports that Kanye West and Walmart halt proceedings over a sunburst logo

 
Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC and Walmart have put proceedings on hold in their ongoing dispute over the similarities between their respective sunburst logos.

                               

It is understood they are “actively engaged” in settlement negotiations after Walmart started legal action earlier this year to stop Yeezy LLC from registering a similar sun rays graphic as its logo.
 
Walmart believes the mark “has become well known and famous as a distinctive indicator of the origin of [its] goods and services and a symbol of [its] goodwill” as a company. However, Yeezy LLC says its logo differs visually from Walmart’s logo. The Yeezy logo consists of eight dotted lines whilst the Walmart logo consists of six solid lines. Yezzy LLC argues that this means that customers will not be confused between the two.

Read more >

Is the John Lewis ad soundtrack a copycat?


The John Lewis Christmas TV advert has become a highlight of the festive period in recent years, creating excitement on a social media and capturing the hearts of the nation. This year’s ad is however under the spotlight for different reasons, as the retailer is being encouraged to donate the proceeds it made from its Christmas advert to charities.

The Portraits, an Anglo-Irish art folk duo, have alleged that John Lewis has copied their version of the song Together in Electric Dreams and used this copied version in its latest Christmas advert. John Lewis has denied all allegations.

Read more >

Shopping the sales


As the retail sector hits its peak trading quarter and shoppers look for bargains, an ESPA advert published by the Hut Group has been found to be misleading by the ASA. The ad stated, “Save 20% when you use code TREAT20. Plus receive a complimentary Positivity Gift when you spend £70.” The advert was not clear that you needed to spend £70 after the discount to qualify for the free gift and so was deemed to mislead.

The decision highlights the importance of clarity and ensuring that significant conditions of an advertised offer are included sufficiently clearly in adverts.
 
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Lloyd v Google – the landmark data decision of the Supreme Court


Dr Patricia Jones, data protection lawyer at law firm Pannone Corporate, gives her insights on the Google case that hit the headlines last month. This case was brought by consumer rights activist Richard Lloyd alleging that Google had breached its data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 by using the browser generated information of more than four million Apple iPhone users.
 
Despite the judgment going in favour of the internet giant, it should act as a strong reminder to businesses – both large and small – of the importance of complying with data protection legislation when collecting and using customer data. If businesses get it wrong, they could potentially face sanction from the Information Commissioner’s Office, as well as compensation claims.
 
Read more >

Keep in touch

If you have any questions about the updates or any IP issues or challenges you’re facing, please contact Melanie McGuirk or Amy Chandler.

Your key contacts

Melanie McGuirk
Partner
T: +44 (0) 161 393 9040
M: +44 (0) 7790 882567
melanie.mcguirk@pannonecorporate.com
Amy Chandler
Partner
T: +44 (0) 161 393 9071
M: +44 (0) 7920 237674
amy.chandler@pannonecorporate.com
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T: 0800 131 3355
F: 0800 954 5456
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The information in this email is provided by Pannone Corporate LLP and was correct at the time of publication. There may have been changes subsequently which have not been incorporated into the information located here. The information supplied should not be applied to any particular set of facts without legal or other professional advice.

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