Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Golden Balls dispute ends as couple win legal victory over Ballon D'Or oganisers: my letter to the editor of the Telegraph

Your story is such a sloppy and inaccurate piece of reporting as to detract from a very important matter for very many small businesses. The European Patent Office, as the name suggests, is responsible for patents, not trade marks, and it has no jurisdiction over infringements. Your story is actually about opposition proceedings in the European Community's trade mark office (an institution that cunningly hides behind the name Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market - surely a gift for a mischievous journalist).

That large trade mark owners with deep pockets can hinder the registration by small businesses of trade marks almost at will is, in my view, a scandal. It removes trade mark law from teh area of unfair competition (where it legitimately, though not exclusively, belongs, and where people would expect to find it) and aligns it, almost, with copyright. I recently represented a client in such a case, where the opponent submitted 1200 pages of documentary evidence (accompanied by two CDROMs). I make no comment on the merits of the case you  report, but the system is open to abuse and permits corporate bullying of the worst kind. Trade marks are a form of commercial speech, and freedom of speech is threatened, as Lord Justice Jacob said recently in a  different trade-mark context in the Court of Appeal.

A few years ago the UK moved from a system in which the Registry rejected applications that conflicted with someone else's existing trade mark to one based, like the European Community one, on oppositions. It raised the costs of trade mark ownership, as small businesses can no longer rely on the registry to police new  applications: they have to do this themselves, maybe paying for a monitoring service and paying out to oppose applications which previously would have been thrown out immediately, and at no cost to them. Just last week the Irish Government took the wise decision not to repeat the UK's mistake, and to retain its present system (very like the old UK approach). Legal aid is not the answer, but reform of trade mark law - including reform of the European Community law - is absolutely essential for small businesses trying to make their mark.

1 comment:

Inez and Gus Bodur said...

Our dispute with the Intra Presse /SNC L'Equipe was looked at by OHIM and this is mentioned later on in the article. It is not the journalists fault, as I called it The European Patent Office, it was my mistake.
We also mentioned in our evidence that FIFA run a Golden Ball Award and there are several others Worldwide and why haven't the owners of the Ballon D'Or tried to stop them, as we have never done an award. Ballon D'Or also translates to Balloon of Gold.
It is reported in today's papers that Ballon D'Or is now merging with FIFA for the World Player Award and there is a picture of the head of Amaury Sport Organisation, Marie Odile Amaury who also own the Tour de France and Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA. The plot thickens....


blogger templates | Make Money Online