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

1 August 2005

We begin in rather debauched territory and the recent victory for Canadian fetish retailer Barbies (sic) Shop over Barbie doll maker Mattel. The manufacturers of the popular doll issued proceedings in New York against Barbara Anderson-Walley, claiming that the name of her sex wear emporium infringed their trademark. However, the US court threw out the case, ruling (rather obviously) that it had no jurisdiction in Canada. Hardly a resounding victory, but Own It reckons Mattel’s lawyers would not have succeeded even if they had got the right country as the Canadian couturier would have been able to rely on a long case history of people being permitted to trade under their own names. Thanks to for that story.

From the kinky to the downright obscene next, and a UK trademark registrar’s decision that the trade name FOOK was contrary to accepted morality and thus could not be registered under the Trademark Act 1994. The owner of FOOK clothing had argued that public morality was changing in this area and cited the examples of FCUK and “Meet the Fockers”, both of which were granted protection in the UK. However, as anyone who’s been to a Leeds United match can testify, FOOK is phonetically identical to a popular swear word in many UK dialects and it was this that sealed its fate. You can read the whole judgement here.

The IT news watchers amongst you may have noticed Microsoft recently announcing the name of the new version of its market dominating operating system, Windows Vista. Unfortunately it’s not just Bill Gates who has a fondness for the sweeping vision that name implies. No less than four companies have Vista registered as a trademark in the US alone, including one in the software sector Expect litigation or some kind of settlement. Read more on that story from The Times.

Finally, Easy everything top man Stelios Haji-Ioannou struck the first blow last week in his trademark dispute with mobile phone network Orange. As fans of the low cost company know, Easy means lots of orange coloured branding. This presents a problem for easyMobile, as Orange (the network) has trademarked the colour orange in relation to mobile phones. This one will run and run, but round one went to Stelios, who forced Orange to re-file their claim as their first attempt was too vague. We’ll let you know how this pans out. The Times has more details on that story.

Until next week.

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