The Trademarks Law Review: Editor's Preface
This is the fourth edition of The Trademarks Law Review. The key objectives for each of the jurisdictions included in the publication remain the same: to provide, first, an annual snapshot of trademark law, which includes a summary of the key legal provisions; second, a review of recent developments and trends from the courts; and third, an informed view of areas of expected legal activity and legislative change going forward.
To this end, our panel of leading trademark practitioners have each been invited to provide a chapter of commentary on their own jurisdiction. The broad structure of each chapter is similar, allowing for clear points of comparison, while leaving enough space for issues of particular relevance in a given country to be explored. Our authors have therefore all struck a balance between conveying the key elements of the trademark landscape in their respective countries, while also giving a flavour of current and commercially active issues in the trademark arena. The former must necessarily be concise – this book does not in any sense aim to provide an exhaustive analysis – but our authors have been encouraged to explore the latter with appropriate emphasis depending on what has been happening recently in their respective jurisdictions.
Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other in recent memory. The covid-19 pandemic has left its mark, and continues to do so, on virtually every commercial sector, with working practices and the nature of commercial activities looking set to permanently change in many areas. This has been a year of lockdowns, of working remotely, of communicating through video conference calls, and, of course, of great uncertainty around how and when coronavirus will be controlled.
The trademark community has experienced all of this along with the rest of the world. Many IP offices have allowed blanket and often lengthy extensions or suspensions to pending ex parte and inter partes matters in recognition of the challenges facing businesses, and their advisers, around adhering to normal procedures. In some countries, including the UK, the courts too have changed their practices to allow for hearings to be held remotely via video conferencing, a development that may have far-reaching effects even when the pandemic is behind us. Although this is hard to assess in a global context, it seems very likely that the overall output of trademark offices and IP courts will have been significantly reduced through 2020 and into 2021.
Despite this, new cases continue to join the body of case law and the same key issues are evident, including online and digital infringements, whether in an online retail context, on social media platforms or elsewhere on the internet. In addition, significant recent trademark decisions (or pending cases) across the jurisdictions covered in this edition address a variety of significant issues. These include anti-counterfeiting, bad faith, the interaction of trademarks and company names, aspects of distinctiveness and the meaning of 'genuine use'.
Our authors have also covered recent or imminent changes to trademark law and practice in their countries. These are many and varied, and include a new option to prosecute cancellation actions in the French IP Office, updated opposition and cancellation procedures in several other countries, the introduction of a registration system for geographical indications in Russia, and changes to domain name practice in Turkey. In addition, Brexit is finally coming into effect on 1 January 2021 with the UK's departure from the EU becoming operative in practical terms. The IP position, while now mainly clear in how it will work particularly in the area of trademarks, will nonetheless necessitate a different approach for businesses seeking to secure IP protection across the UK and the EU. Naturally, the focus of each chapter differs at a granular level to reflect those areas where its author considers legal scrutiny has been most clearly directed. Collectively, however, they cover a broad range of important and current issues.
We hope that readers will consult this new edition regularly, and that its concise nature and clear structure will provide easy access to understanding the essence of what is relevant and current in the world of trademark law.
Cleveland Scott York