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This week's IP news round-up

3 February 2005

Well hello there – and welcome to this week’s intellectual property news round-up, brought to you by the letters I and P.

Before we kick off, Own It finds itself wondering this week whether The Beautiful South’s ‘Song For Whoever’ is the only popular song ever to have been written about intellectual property…

‘Love you because, you put me in my rightful place
And I love the PRS cheques, that you bring…’


There must surely be others, but we can’t think of a single one. Can you? songs@own-it.org


And so to the stories that have caught our eye this week - and first up we’re indebted to the IPKat for drawing our attention to a case involving our favourite four-fingered chocolate snack, the Kit Kat.

In a thrilling judgement, the European Court of Justice has decided that the phrase ‘Have a break…’ is capable of being registered as a trademark by Kit Kat. The case centred on the question of whether the phrase has acquired ‘distinctive character’ because of it’s use with the words ‘….have a Kit Kat.’ Or, to put it another way, the court decided that the fact that the words ‘Have a break…’ immediately make us think ‘have a Kit Kat’ means that they are suitably distinctive to Kit Kat that they are able to be trademarked.

We’re glad that’s been cleared up – not least because it leaves the way clear for London Underground to trademark the words ‘…apologise for the delay.’


Meanwhile, in Louisiana two rappers have taken to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to settle a tricky intellectual property dispute. The dispute involves rappers Juvenile and D.J. Jubilee and focuses on the ownership of the words 'back that ass up.'

According to Law.com, ‘D.J. Jubilee, also known as Jerome Temple, recorded "Back That Ass Up," while Juvenile, also known as Terius Gray, recorded "Back That Azz Up."… Juvenile's song was a hit, sold more than 4 million CDs and grossed more than $40 million in sales. However, D.J. Jubilee's song failed to elevate either his bank account or his profile. D.J. Jubilee continues to work as a special education teacher.’ The report of the case makes amusing reading, not least because of the involvement of the Jackson 5 in a supporting role. We urge you to read on.


And finally, Internet users are being warned not to trust apparently legitimate music download sites based in Russia. The MP3 download sites with snappy names like MP3search.ru are offering complete top-40 albums for less than a dollar and single tracks at less than 10 cents. And yet they still claim to be ‘in full compliance with copyright law’. The catch? They’re lying. "It doesn't matter if somebody downloads in the U.S. and believes that it's legal because the site tells them so," Evan Cox, an intellectual property lawyer at the firm Covington & Burling in San Francisco, told the Wall Street Journal . So there. You know that they say: there’s no such thing as a really, really cheap lunch.


Until next week.

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