Intellectual Property Update: Review 2016

Author:Mason Hayes & Curran
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran
 
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The trend of IP enforcement continues with almost all sectors experiencing some activity. Combined with this, we explore some other interesting developments.

Business owners providing free Wi-Fi may be required to implement password protection

Sony Music, as holder of the rights in a particular musical work, issued proceedings for copyright infringement against a retailer who provided use of a Wi-Fi connection free of charge to the public. The musical work was unlawfully offered for downloading via that Internet connection.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") was of the view that "a measure consisting in password-protecting an internet connection may dissuade the users of that connection from infringing copyright or related rights, provided that those users are required to reveal their identity in order to obtain the required password." The rationale behind this requirement would be to prevent users from acting anonymously. The court was of the view that omitting to place any need on service providers to secure their internet connections would be to deprive the fundamental rights to intellectual property of any protection. However, the CJEU emphasised that the imposition of this requirement would be a matter for the national court to ascertain.

This decision does, however, provide welcome confirmation that service providers can rely on the safe harbour provisions set out in the E-Commerce Directive, irrespective of whether they charge customers for use of their internet connection.

New European trade mark regulation

The widely anticipated Trade Mark Regulation, which overhauls the existing Community Trade Mark regime, took effect from 23 March 2016 (with a few exceptions). This new regime is streamlined and, in general, makes it easier and cheaper to obtain protection at an EU level for trade marks.

Under the amending regulation a number of changes took effect including:

terminology changes; codification of position that class heading specifications are deemed to only cover those goods or services covered by the clear meaning of a class heading, an amended fee structure; a requirement to request renewals prior to the date of expiry; isposal of the requirement that a mark must be capable of graphical representation; functional signs (such as colours or sounds) will now be subject to the same prohibitions as are applied to shape marks; and the provision of greater protection against counterfeits. Irish Court of Appeal...

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