It’s not exactly front page news, but over at news.com.au they have a short video explaining the battle between Kraft and Bega over who can market peanut butter in that yellow get-up. This follows news that Kraft has applied for special leave to appeal the dismissal of its complaint.
A Current Affair also has a go with a lot more flag waving and some gruesome finger dipping.
If you’re looking for the more formal legal analysis, the Full court decision is here.
So far, the moral of the story is that an unregistered trade mark is not property in its own right. Such a “thing” can be assigned only as part of the transfer of the goodwill of a business as a going concern. If you are going to sell your business, or its assets, but you don’t want to the purchaser to use an unregistered name, or get-up, after the sale, you will need to impose appropriate contractual restraints.
IP Australia has published details of Trade Mark No. 2,000,000:
I am not sure whether the sequence has been unbroken right from Trade Mark No. 1. Even so, the meter has ticked over and it is definitely a milestone of sorts.
It does seem a little strange, in these days of tobacco plain packaging laws, that someone is pursuing a trade mark registration for a new brand, but it does also extend to smoker’s articles and e-cigs.
By way of interest, Trade Mark No. 1,000,000 was filed by Anchor Foods on 23 April 2004.
That is, it took almost 100 years to get to the 1,000,000 mark; but it took only 15 years for the next million.
I wonder whether “Northern Lights” will achieve the same degree of notoriety as the equally colourful “Golden Lights“.
Burley J has handed down our first case dealing with the “spare parts” defence in the Designs Act 2003.
At 709 paragraphs, any considered analysis will have to wait for another day (or days). In the meantime, here are his Honour’s conclusions:
707. In these reasons, I conclude that GMGTO has failed to establish the bulk of its claim for design infringement. Despite extensive forensic examination of the business of SSS, it has not established infringement in respect of the importation, keeping for sale or offering for sale of the impugned SSS products in respect of any of the SSS respondent companies. In its claim for infringement by selling, GMGTO has established infringement in respect of 4 representative transactions made by SSS Sydney, 2 representative transactions entered into by SSS Melbourne (but only in part in relation to Transaction 17) and 2 representative transactions entered into by SSS Queensland. The parties must now, on the basis of these reasons, attempt to agree on a formula by which the balance of the transactions the subject of GMGTO’s claim might be resolved. They should also confer and attempt to agree to directions to bring these proceedings to a close.
708. I have concluded that SSS has substantially failed to establish its case on the cross-claim. It has established that there were unjustified threats insofar as they relate to designs that were never certified, which involves the threats made to Panel House, Carparts and Torq. SSS has also established an unjustified threat in relation to copyright infringement in the case of Holmart. I will hear submissions from the parties as to the appropriate relief to grant, if any.
In addition to dismissing GSK’s appeal against the construction of “basket” (noted here), the Full Court also dismissed Apotex’ cross-appeals on fair basis and best method.
Apotex and Generic Partners also lost their appeals against the trial judge’s ruling that GSK’s patent was fairly based and there had been no failure to disclose the best method.
On fair basis, the claims were consistent with the consistory clauses, but Apotex argued the body of the specification showed that the invention was narrower than the broad consistory clauses. This appears to have been an attempt to read the claims down to two specific formulations discussed in the specification, Formulations C and D.
A key point was whether the trial judge had impermissibly taken into account information in an FDA report to ascertain if the claims travelled beyond the disclosure in the specification. Apotex argued this was excluded by the High Court’s decision in the first Lockwood decision, where it had said at :
If all that is essential in assessing a fair basing objection is recourse to the contents of the specification, there is no call, for example, for an examination (except on construction questions) of common general knowledge (which is essential when considering an objection based on want of an inventive step), or of prior art (which is essential when considering novelty (s 7(1))) …
The Full Court, however, rejected this attack; concluding that the information in the FDA Report (which was common general knowledge) informed how the skilled addressee would understand the claims. At , the Full Court said:
What is critical to the pharmacokinetic behaviour of the many formulations within the claims is the dissolution profile (or release rate) of the formulation. The primary judge accepted that the FDA Report recognised that a variation of ±10% percentage points in the release rate was acceptable to the FDA even where no IVIVC had been established. This provides evidentiary support for the finding that the skilled addressee would know that various formulations within the claims apart from Formulations C and D were likely to have similar pharmacokinetic properties. This also provides a complete answer to Apotex’s argument that the skilled addressee (equipped with the common general knowledge) would approach the Patent with an understanding that there would be no reason to think that other formulations within the claims would have a similar pharmacokinetic profile to Formulations C and D in the absence of any established IVIVC.
The Full Court also rejected Apotex’ argument that a claim could not be fairly based unless the specification explained why the claims worked. Making it clear that they were dealing only with the position before the Raising the Bar Act reforms, the Full Court said at :
Of course, it is important to note that s 40(2)(a) requires that the complete specification “describe the invention fully”. A complete specification may still “describe the invention fully” without explaining why the invention works. After all, the inventor, who presumably believes that the invention described works, may not understand why it works. But this does not prevent him or her from obtaining patent protection for the invention.
For best method, the argument built on the Servier ruling to argue there had been a failure to disclose the best method because the specification did not disclose the particular grade or viscosity of the high viscosity HPMC or the granulation end points used to make Formulations C and D.
At , the Full Court accepted that there could be a failure of best method if information was withheld even though it could be ascertained by routine experiment. The Full Court rejected the best method attack, however, finding that the information omitted was inessential manufacturing and production information. According to the Full Court at :
It does not follow merely because the patent applicant uses a particular manufacturing process or a particular excipient in formulating its commercial embodiment that it will form part of the best method. The patent applicant may have adopted a particular process, or used a particular excipient, for reasons that are associated with its own particular circumstances rather than because it believes that they reflect the best method. The best method known to the patent applicant may be one that allows for the optimisation of a formulation by the skilled addressee rather than one that adheres to one specific formulation that the patent applicant seeks to commercialise.
Those preparing specifications might want, first, to note the reservation that the Full Court was not dealing with the “new” post-Raising the Bar regime. Secondly,  appears to carry with it the warning that, if one leaves something out, one does so at one’s own peril.
prescribed requirements for industry codes under the carriage service provider safe harbours;
a number of new prescribed acts where it will be permissible to circumvent technological protection measures:
for use of copyright material by a student enrolled in a course of study in an educational institution solely for the purpose of and in circumstances set out in sections 40, 41, 41A, 103A, 103AA or 103C of the Act provided that the use was solely for the purposes of a student complying with the requirements of the course of instruction
for use of copyright material by a person who carries out research for an educational institution solely for the purpose of and in circumstances set out in sections 40, 41, 41A, 103A, 103AA or 103C of the Act provided that the use was solely for the purposes of a person carrying out his or her research duties for an educational institution
for use of copyright material for educational purposes by or on behalf of a body administering an educational institution, acting under section 200AB of the Act
use of copyright material by or on behalf of a person with a disability under Division 2, Part IVA of the Act
use by libraries, archives and Key Cultural Institutions (as prescribed in the Copyright Regulations), under Division 3 of Part IVA of the Act
use in relation to access by or for persons with a disability (under Division 2 of Part IVA of the Act)
for use of copyright material for educational purposes undertaken under the statutory licence under Division 4 of Part IVA of the Act
as is the case now, there are provisions for all sorts of notices and even new questions about how they should be published.
At the grumpy old man level:
Why does reg. 12 dealing with “industrially applied” refer to 50 “articles” when section 77 refers to “products”?
Also, in a move designed to cause confusion or which fails to appreciate the difference between a section in an Act and a provision3 in a regulation, we apparently now must refer to provisions in regulations as “sections”. That should make it much easier for everyone!
The Australian Bar Association (the ABA) has obtained declarations that Australian Barristers Chambers Pty Ltd and associates (the Chambers entities) have infringed the ABA’s registered trade marks:
No 1587902 – AUSTRALIAN BAR ASSOCIATION; and
No 1558252 – for the ABA “logo”:
by using the names:
Australian Barrister Chambers;
AustBar Chambers; and
in close proximity to an image of the scales of justice. For example:
The ABA has also obtained declarations that the Chambers entities have engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct contrary to s 18 etc. of the Australian Consumer Law by using those names and also by using:
the URL ?www.austbar.com.au?;
the name AustBar Chambers;
the name AustBar ADR;
the tweet identifier ?Australian Barrister@AustBar?;
and all of the above in in proximity to, the scales of justice.
The NSW Bar Association has also obtained declarations that its trade marks for BARADR have been infringed, and s 18 of the ACL contravened, by the Chambers entities by the use of BARADR and the domain names ?www.baradr.com.au? and ?www.austbaradr.com.au?.
As James McDougall points out, the decision is 360 paragraphs long and so will no doubt require further, careful consideration. A few points caught my eye skimming through:
One point which should be noted (as clients often raise it) is Greenwood J’s orthodox rejection of the claim that Chambers’ name(s) were defensible because the business name registration or domain name registration system permitted them. Greenwood J pointed out at :
The circumstance that a domain name registration might or might not meet the eligibility criteria for registration is no answer to the question of whether use of such a domain name is either confusing or misleading or constitutes infringement of a registered trade mark, in Australia. Prior to the introduction of the dispute resolution protocols governing domain name registrations, it had become something of an art form for registrants to register, as domain names, the names of traders who had developed a reputation for a name or mark within a jurisdiction and often internationally. Processes were adopted as a result of that practice to try and address that conduct. Whatever the perceived “validity” might be of the domain name registration ?www.austbar.com.au? within the confines of that system and its protocols, austbar and AustBar are terms, names or indicia associated, particularly electronically, with the ABA.
The signpost point
Greenwood J was prepared to find that AUSTRALASIAN BARRISTERS CHAMBERS by itself, or even in the logo form:
by itself for a virtual chambers of barristers would not have infringed the ABA’s rights. However, traffic to the website was directed by the “signpost” <www.austbar.com.au> and that conduct was infringing:
 As to the use of the name Australasian Barrister Chambers, I do not regard the use of that name as being either substantially identical with or deceptively similar to either TM 902 or TM 252. However, traffic is directed to a website for and on behalf of that company (and later Austbar PL) by use of the domain name ?www.austbar.com.au?. Use of that domain name involves use of a mark or sign in the course of that company’s trade in services for which TM 902 is registered. I regard the use of austbar in this context as a use of a mark or sign deceptively similar to TM 902. Once a person engages with austbar as the conduit to the website operated by Australasian Barrister Chambers, the sense of confusion or wonderment about whether the person is engaging with the ABA or a provider connected with the ABA remains.
 However, by itself, the name Australasian Barrister Chambers might be thought to suggest a set of chambers occupied by barristers “virtually” (and in this case only a virtual presence is relevant), engaged or seeking to be engaged, in work in the Australian and Asian markets for legal services, by seeking direct electronic access to those who engage barristers in that work. In this case, of course, the key electronic point of connection is a domain name using austbar. Barristers might seek greater direct access to the legal profession in this way but it is also important to remember that the website addresses clients and the community directly through the website. Mr Minus, entities controlled by him (or over which he has influence) and other barristers would be entitled, plainly enough, to engage in an undertaking of establishing an online virtual presence for barristers associated together in some way, shape or form. The difficulty is the use of sign, mark or signpost which directs traffic to the site under or by reference to the dominant domain name descriptor austbar associated with the Australian Bar Association. The use of austbar as a mark signposting the electronic route to the site operator is the vice and the infringing conduct.
It will be very interesting to see what form of injunction is fashioned in response to these findings.
Unincorporated associations and ownership trade marks
Greenwood J rejected various attacks on the ABA’s title to its registered trade marks. When the applications for the ABA’s registered trade marks were filed in 2013, “it” was still an unincorporated association, so the 12 members of “its” executive council were the applicants, each described “as trustee for the Australian Bar Association”. Subsequently, three of the original applicants retired from the executive council and assigned their interests to the remaining members. Greenwood J held:
 I accept that as a matter of construction of the TM Act, a joint owner may assign his or her “share” or “interest” in the trade mark to another with or without an assignment by any other joint owner. Mr Colbran QC, Mr Traves SC and Mr Walker were joint owners (with the other nine AB Council members) and joint applicants as trustees for the ABA for each trade mark. When they assigned their interest in each trade mark, the incoming assignees took, between them, that aliquot share of the three assignors impressed with the same trust upon which that interest had been held by them. The interest of each of the remaining nine applicant owners as trustees remained entirely as it was.
 There is no defect in title in the sequence of transfers as discussed.
Chambers’ disclaimer did not help
Chambers’ website seems to have various forms of disclaimer appearing at different times – his Honour considered the evidence was not fully clear about all the forms or timings.
Greenwood J considered that none of the forms sufficiently proved were sufficient. His Honour explained at  that to be effective the disclaimer had to satisfy the following test:
the critical matter in relation to the efficacy of the disclaimer is whether the respondents have discharged the onus of demonstrating that the disclaimer is likely to be seen and understood by all those reasonable fair minded members of the various cohorts engaging with the website (leaving aside extreme and fanciful reactions and isolated exceptions), who would otherwise be misled. In order to be effective, the disclaimer must be such as to leave the fair minded reasonable member of the class in no doubt about the source or origin of the services provided under and by reference to the website; in no doubt about whether the ABA is associated or affiliated with the site operator or the services offered by the operator; and in no doubt about whether the ABA is in some way, shape or form standing behind the website operated by the respondents.
Chambers’ disclaimer did not achieve that. By the time the reader had reached the website, there had already been infringement and misleading or deceptive conduct:
: First, by the time a person engages with the website, they have already been taken there by a sign, the use of which involves an infringement of TM 902 and taken there by reason of conduct in contravention of s 18(1), s 29(1)(g) and s 29(1)(h) of the ACL. The user is already drawn to the site. He or she is already attracted and engaged by the conduct. At that point, the disclaimer needs to operate in such a causative way that it cures an existing problem (if able to do so at all which is likely to be difficult and rare), by making it absolutely clear to the reader who is looking at the site electronically for particular information that this site is not a website operated by the ABA and nor are the services provided by the website the services of the ABA or services associated with or approved by the ABA. One imagines that the disclaimer would need to capture the eyes of the viewer with significant text with appropriate emphasis. Small text located two thirds of the way down the page is never likely to be sufficient and in the facts of this case, it is not sufficient. It is a classic example of the message being “in the small print”.
 Second, in the facts of this case, the truth of the matter is that the unlawful conduct was complete once the trade mark infringement had occurred and once the misleading conduct had taken the person to the site. At that point, the disclaimer had to be powerful enough to undo the harm.
Thirdly, some of the public who would land on the website would be consumers looking to access the views of a national body like the ABA, but misdirected there by Chambers’ cues.