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There’s an international flavour to this week’s round-up, with stories from Canada, Australia, Russia, China and Japan.

18 July 2005

Welcome to this week’s intellectual property news round-up from Own It.

We kick off this week with the ubiquitous Harry Potter. Our story concerns fourteen Canadian fans left feeling somewhat less than magic after being legally restrained from reading their copies of “The Half-Blood Prince”. A careless Canadian retailer had accidentally sold the books to the Potter fans before the 16th July release date. The novel’s Canadian publishers quickly obtained  “John Doe” court orders (similar to UK injunctions) claiming the books were commercially confidential. These prevented the fourteen from dealing with, or even reading the books before 16th July. The orders were tested immediately when one naughty fan tried unsuccessfully to sell his copy on eBay. Read more from The Times.

Another commercial confidence story last week (but with a more hands-on approach from the aggrieved party) saw noodle chef Toshio Kawashima kidnap former pupil Yoshiro Haga.  The dispute was over a ramen recipe that Mr Kawashima claims was a commercial secret passed to Mr Haga with a view to a joint venture between the two chefs. After the plan fell through, Mr Haga’s own restaurant took off and his old colleague became jealous at the lack of credit he received, eventually holding Mr Haga prisoner for 6 hours. The moral of the story? Get a confidentiality agreement next time. More from The Times.

Last month’s US Supreme Court decision to find liability for breach of copyright for those encouraging illegal downloading seems to be resonating in other jurisdictions. Last week an Australian court found liability to extend to a website that provided links to illegal downloading sites. Get the story from the BBC.

We round off this week with a pair of trademark stories. First up, a legal victory for Starbucks, the world’s foremost purveyor of milky coffee. The Seattle business had been involved in a dispute in Russia after its trademark was auctioned off to a wily Russian entrepreneur who started up a Russian Starbucks of his own. Last week’s judgement, restoring the Starbucks name to the US company, paves the way for identikit coffee shops across Russia. The dispute highlights the rather patchy nature of IP enforcement in Russia, where many of the big homegrown brands are “inspired” by Western originals. Get the full story from The Times.

Finally (and staying with countries with patchy IP records) last week saw a court victory for chav favourite Lacoste over Crocodile International. The long running dispute between the two brands concerned the use of the famous crocodile logo in China. Forbes has more on that story.

See you next week for more snappy IP news.

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