Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

Seized assets

Seized assets

Published: 27.10.08 at 09:00

The thorny issue of software patents in the EU was again in the news last week. Regular readers will recall the ongoing row between the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) and the courts over the former's application of both UK and EU case law on the extent to which computer software can be patented. The most recent round a couple of weeks back saw the Court of Appeal find the UK-IPO was wrong to deny a patent to Symbian's PC performance enhancing software. Now the European Patent Office (EPO) has sought clarification by way of a reference to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (which hears appeals against EPO decisions) seeking to clear up some of the finer points of the application of European patent law. Those clever kitties at the IP Kat reckon the referral should end some of the uncertainty over computer software at the EPO level and (indirectly) aid the UK-IPO as well. Let's hope so.

Meanwhile, over in the US American Airline is suing search engine Yahoo over its sale of "keywords" to the airline's competitors. As with the UK furore over Google's sale of registered trade marks as keywords (see this story from May) the issue is whether allowing companies to buy their competitors' trade marks as keywords on Google or Yahoo constitutes trade mark infringement by the search engine. Out-law notes that American Airlines has previously settled just such a dispute with Google, suggesting that the launch of formal legal proceedings may be more about strengthening the airline's bargaining position than any desperate desire to have the whole debate settled in court. We'll keep our eyes peeled for developments.

We round off this week with news that the US Department of Justice has taken the unusual step of using Federal racketeering laws to seize a biker gang's trade marks along with other assets. The Mongols OutLaw Biker Gang is the subject of a host of indictments relating to the gang's shady dealings, but the investigators have seized the marks in an attempt to restrict the gang's activities. As this amusing piece from The Register points out, trade mark law in the US (as in the UK) requires the marks be used in the course of trade, suggesting the DoJ should now change its logo to incorporate the Mongol biker mark.

We'll be back in a week...

Photo credit: macinate


Please note that this article provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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