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News about trademarks

Trademarks, whether they are strong, beautiful or special, play an important role in our daily lives. All brands have their own story, their own context within which they develop. Investing in the value of a trademark is an important part of a business’s strategy since the value of a trademark or trademarks to a great extent determines the profitability of the organisation and thus its value. With practical situations as a focus, this section sets out all relevant and interesting developments in the field of trademark law.

Surnames, trademarks and the importance of acquired distinctiveness


As we have written previously, using your own name as your business name carries a certain number of risks. In certain jurisdictions, such as the US, there are also restrictions on registering surnames as trademarks.


EU sets out its vision for IP post-Brexit


The European Commission has published a position paper on IP rights (including geographical indications) post-Brexit. The document, circulated to the remaining 27 EU member states ahead of a meeting on 7 September, sets out five “general principles” for negotiations with the UK.


Important legal change as of 1 October for holders of quality marks


On 23 March 2016, the European Union Trademark Regulation (EUTMR) entered into force, as part of the ‘Trademark Reform Package’. On 1 October 2017, the last of the reforms will come into effect. This includes the introduction of an EU Certification Mark which is of particular interest to holders of collective trademarks or those interested in (applying for) collective marks.


A storm in a glass of rum


The number of craft beer breweries seems to have mushroomed in recent years with new brands opening across Europe, the US and Canada. Brewers in the sector like to pride themselves on the originality of their beer names, and yet it’s a sector that is seeing an increasing number of trademark conflicts. Novagraaf’s Theo Visser looks at the recent conflict over Picaroon’s Dark and Stormy Night.


For those about to rock: Don’t forget about trademarks


Emerging artists are generally more focused on making music than IP issues, but this can lead to nasty disputes and sour notes down the line. The disagreement between Jefferson Starship and Jefferson Airplane is just the latest example of a wrangle between former band mates over ownership of an iconic name.


Packaging and trademark marking


Further to our article ‘Should you mark your products with patent and design numbers?’, Novagraaf’s Claire Jones sets out guidance for trademark product marking.


EUTM reform: final provisions to come into effect on 1 October


On 1 October 2017, the last of the reforms introduced by the EU Trademark Reform Package in 2016 will come into effect; in particular, the removal of the requirement for ‘graphic representation’ and the introduction of an EU Certification Mark. These provisions required secondary legislation be put in place, hence the delay.


Arguing over stripes: Gucci escalates dispute with Forever 21


Luxury fashion house Gucci is taking fast-fashion chain Forever 21 to court in the US for allegedly infringing its iconic blue-red-blue and green-red-green stripe motifs. Forever 21 had previously filed a claim questioning the validity of the trademarks protecting those stripes.


A triple double burger battle


Not quite in time for this year’s National Burger Day, US fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger has sued rival Smashburger for trademark infringement following the launch of its ‘triple double’ burger. In its complaint, filed on 28 August, In-N-Out alleges that the mark is confusing similar to its own ‘double-double’ and ‘triple-triple’ trademarks.


Poundland takes on Mondelēz in battle of the chocolate peaks


Budget UK retailer Poundland has delayed the launch of ‘Twin Peaks’, a Toblerone lookalike chocolate bar, following a legal dispute with Mondelēz International, the company behind the much-loved bar. It follows public outrage at Mondelēz’s decision last year to put Toblerone on a diet, citing the falling value of the pound as the reasoning for thinning out Toblerone’s distinctive..