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This week's IP news round-up

1 June 2005

Another week, another informative selection from the Own It intellectual property news round-up.

First up, a judgement in South Africa last week acknowledged the value of parody and freedom of expression even when trademarks are infringed. The case saw South African Breweries (SAB) attempting to restrain satirical t-shirt manufacturer Laugh It Off from selling a garment imitating the South African trademark of much-loved cooking lager Carling Black Label.  The judges in South Africa's highest court ruled that SAB had failed establish any loss of sales as a result of the t-shirt and therefore Laugh It Off's freedom of expression would be protected rather than the trademark. At least SAB will have no trouble finding a way to drown their sorrows. Photo and more from the BBC.

This week's award for best legal reasoning goes to judge Sir John Edmund Frederic Lindsay who ordered High Court proceedings in the Buena Vista Social Club case be relocated to Havana. The trial between copyright owners Peer and the Cuban government over song royalties from the money spinning album and film came to a juddering halt when the court's video link to witnesses in Havana broke down. Rather than demand the Cubans travel to London, Mr Justice Lindsay decided justice (and presumably his suntan) would be best served by continuing the case in Havana in September. Own It couldn't agree more. Read more at Times Online.

Finally, a pair of Internet related stories to round this week off. First is a possible legal challenge to the authority of Nominet (the UK domain name registry) from Ben Cohen who was removed as registered owner of itunes.co.uk following expert advice that the domain rightfully belonged to Apple.  After discovering the decision could not be judicially reviewed as Nominet is not officially a public body, Mr Cohen has threatened High Court action to question the legal basis of the Nominet's power. Watch this space for further developments or read more on The Register .

And lastly Elite Torrents, one of the Internet sites that enabled the massive illegal downloading of the new Star Wars movie, was shut down last week after dramatic police raids across the USA. The raids are the first time criminal measures have been brought against individuals using Bit Torrent networks for illegal downloads but not, we predict, the last. Read all about it on the BBC site.

Stay legal and we'll see you all next week.

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