Russia’s Intellectual Property Court affirms denial of Ford’s trademark application
Ford Motor Company’s (“FMC”) application to protect its company name and blue oval logo was rejected by Russia’s IP Office and affirmed by Russia’s Intellectual Property Court. Even though “FORD” was ranked as the 44th most valuable global brand last year by Forbes Magazine, the company failed to comply with Russia’s procedural requirements to obtain the requested protection. FMC failed to provide evidence of the company’s extensive use of the logo in Russia. FMC tried to prove extensive use through documentation of its joint venture with Russia’s car maker Sollers; however, since the documentation was provided by Ford Sollers Limited, it could not serve as evidence for FMC’s extensive use of its marks in Russia. The IP Office also held that the evidence provided did not show “consistent” use of the mark to qualify for well-known trademark protection. While this rejection may seem like a political move by Russia to challenge the enforcement of American company’s intellectual property rights, it may very well be true that FMC simply failed to comply with the requirements established by Russia’s IP Office. Nonetheless, FMC can reapply to obtain the well-known status of its marks.
Contrary to its advertising efforts, Red Bull does not give you wings
Red Bull GmbH (“Red Bull”) agreed to pay $13 million dollars to settle two class action law suits Benjamin Careathers v. Red Bull North America Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-00369, and David Wolf et al. v. Red Bull GmbH, Case No. 1:13-cv-08008, both in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Benjamin Careathers, the plaintiff in one of the suits, argued that he did not grow wings and that his mental and physical development was not enhanced even after ten years of drinking Red Bull. $6.5 million dollars from the settlement will go into a fund that will be paid out to consumers who have been drinking Red Bull since 2002. Consumers do not need to prove purchase in order to get a $10 cash refund or get, in the alternative, $15 worth of Red Bull products. But since over 2 million people have requested for a refund, it is likely that consumers will receive much less than $10. A hearing has been schedule for May 1, 2015 to decide whether the settlement will be approved by Court. Consumers will receive their refund or products within 150 days of the settlement’s approval. Red Bull authorities have expressed that they reached a settlement in order to avoid further litigation, denying claims of liability.
Federal Court rules that food flavors are not trademarkable
In New York Pizzeria, Inc. v. Syal, 3:13-CV-335 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 20, 2014), Federal Court ruled that “food flavors” are not trademarkable given their functional purpose. Russo’s New York Pizzeria sued Gina’s Italian Kitchen for taste infringement, claiming trademark rights in the taste of their food. The court ruled that it is not possible to grant trademark protection to food flavors due to the “functionality” of flavors.