After the dot-com company, stand by for the dot-eu.
Maggie Ramage keeps calm and carries on - BBC Breakfast News
Our own Maggie Ramage was interviewed on BBC Breakfast News, 22nd September 2011, regarding a trade mark dispute over the words "Keep Calm and Carry On" which was a slogan on wartime posters that were never used but stockpiled against the day when Hitler might have invaded.
A few years ago the slogan caught the public imagination.
Many products were marketed using it, but one trader registered it as a trade mark and then used that registration to get eBay not to accept listings from anyone else using the slogan. This resulted in an application to cancel the trademark on the grounds that the words are too widely used for one person to own the exclusive rights.
Alexander Ramage Associates is pleased to announce that James Setchell has joined the practice as an associate. James who is a UK registered Trade Mark Attorney and European Trade Mark Attorney originally joined Alexander Ramage Associates as a trainee in 1994, having gained an LLB with Honours from Cardiff University.
James then pursued his career in London and Newcastle and spent a number of years as a Trade Mark Manager for a well known global drinks manufacturer. He has extensive experience in advising on the trade mark portfolios of large FMCG companies as well as SMEs in a number of business sectors.
James is a member of the Council of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, and chairs its Public Relations and Communications committee. He is a regular tutor on revision courses those seeking to qualify as Trade Mark Attorneys, and is qualified as a tutor for the Nottingham Law School course, and a Board member of the Joint Examination Board for entry on to the registers of Patent Attorneys and Trade Mark Attorneys in the United Kingdom.
James can be contacted on 01483 750701 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys elects Maggie Ramage as President
Maggie Ramage, newly elected President of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys
Maggie Ramage has today been elected President of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys. A partner in Woking based Alexander Ramage Associates, she is only the third female President in the Institute’s 75 year history.
Speaking after her election, Maggie commented: “It is a great honour for me to be taking responsibility for an organisation with about 1600 members worldwide, all the more so as someone from a relatively small trade mark practice located outside of London.”
“My primary aim will be to further raise the standards and awareness of trade mark practice throughout the legal profession and consolidate the position of the Institute. The UK is pioneering in its approach to regulation of the trade mark attorney profession and this will help make the UK an attractive option for non EU countries.”
Maggie, who lives in Godalming, is a UK trade mark attorney and became a partner in Alexander Ramage Associates in 1991. Earlier, she worked for the California based Raychem Corporation and was seconded to San Francisco in 1987. She then worked for Beecham (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) before moving to British Telecommunications and latterly to Alexander Ramage Associates.
The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) was established in 1934 as the professional body representing those qualified to act for the owners of trade mark and allied intellectual property rights (registered designs in particular) both nationally and internationally. It represents the vast majority of UK registered trade mark agents and all UK Trade Mark & Design Litigators.
Nominet canvasses feedback on releasing ultra-short domain names.
Proposals to allow ultra-short domain names are being floated by Nominet, the Internet registry for .uk domain names. Its Policy Advisory Body has recommended that two letter and one character domain names should be made available for registration for the first time.
The non-profit body has started a consultation process with interested stakeholders, asking for opinions on these proposals and how the release of the domains should be implemented.
Nominet’s general approach to these restricted domains is that where there is no longer a valid technical or policy reason for a rule, the rule should be removed,” said Eric Ramage, who chairs the Policy Advisory Body.
It is proposed that the restricted domains in the .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk and .net.uk sub-domains should be released in a staged or ‘sunrise’ process, with the first phase open only to holders of the appropriate registered trade marks. The second phase would be for applicants with appropriate unregistered rights recognisable and enforceable in the UK, such as registered companies. After this sunrise period, the remaining domain names could be made available to all in a ‘landrush’ on a first come, first registered basis.
The release of other short domain names matching existing generic Top Level Domains such as .com or .gov is also proposed, for example .com.co.uk.
Opinions can be submitted to an online survey on Nominet’s web site, or in an email to email@example.com. The consultation period closes on 8 June 2010.
Eric Ramage is also senior partner at Woking based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates. Further information can be obtained from him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01483 750701. Nominet’s web site is at www.nominet.org.uk.
New tribunal to help combat company name parasites.
People who try to take advantage of established companies by registering similar company names can now be taken to a new tribunal. The Company Names Tribunal, which came into force on 1 October 2008, has been set up to crack down on these abuses.
Such "opportunistic" company name registrations are similar to opportunistic Internet domain name registrations, also known as cyber-squatting. An example of an opportunistic company name registration is when someone registers one or more variations of the name of a well-known company in order to persuade that company to buy the registration(s) from them - usually at an inflated price.
Another example is where someone knows that a merger between two companies is about to take place and registers one or more variations of the name that the newly formed company is likely to require.
"The company names adjudicators will deal with disputes about these opportunistic company name registrations," explained Eric Ramage of Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates.
"Companies House officials will continue to weed out any new company name that is too similar to an existing registered name, and the Courts will still deal with any attempt by one business to pass itself off as an existing established business. The new Company Name Tribunal will provide a readily accessible forum to deal specifically with complaints about company names that are sufficiently similar to established company names to mislead consumers. As one of the very few trade mark attorney litigator firms in the country we are ideally placed to deal with all of these problems."
The new tribunal is based in the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO), which is the official government body responsible for granting intellectual property rights in the UK including trade marks, patents, designs and copyright.
As a long-established trade mark attorney, Eric Ramage has considerable experience of dealing with the UK-IPO and was one of the UK's first trade mark litigators.
1 December 2008
Don't miss out on a 'dot eu' domain name.
Companies intending to apply for a .eu domain name should act now if they haven't already registered their company name as a trade mark. If not, they could miss out when registration for the new top level domain starts next year.
Before the main registration procedure starts, there will be a four month 'sunrise' period when preference is given to companies having an appropriate registered trade mark.
"If you act quickly, there should still be time to obtain UK trade mark registration for your company name," said Eric Ramage of Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates.
The commencement date for the domain name registration has not yet been announced, but it will probably be within the next 12 months. Registering a UK trade mark requires a minimum of eight months, but can take longer.
Domain names applied for during the sunrise period must be an exact match for the trade marks registered.
The .eu domain is being promoted by the European Commission to provide a European identity in the domain name system for European internet users.
31 August 2004
Exam success for Alexander Ramage Associates duo.
Alexander Ramage Associates are celebrating a double exam success. Philippa Frayne has passed her final professional examination of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, enabling her to practice as a fully qualified UK trade mark attorney.
At the same time, assistant trade mark agent Thorsten Gailing was successful in his foundation examinations to become an affiliate member of the Institute.
"Both these results are marvellous achievements," said Eric Ramage, senior partner of the Woking-based trade mark attorneys. "We are all delighted at this double success." The results mean that the firm now has four fully qualified UK trade mark attorneys.
Philippa started her career in the trade mark profession when she joined Alexander Ramage Associates in 1990. She has been qualified to practise as a European Trade Mark Attorney since 1999.
Thorsten was born in Germany, and has a law degree from Queen Mary, University of London. He joined Alexander Ramage Associates in 2002.
18 May 2004
Companies warned over trade mark invoicing scam.
Companies that have submitted applications to register trade marks are being targeted with bogus requests for fees, warn Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates.
The companies are being sent invoices from overseas organisations asking for payment of registration fees for their trade marks to be listed on official-sounding registers or databases. However, these registers are of dubious value and have no legal significance.
It is feared that unsuspecting companies may assume they are part of the official trade mark registration process and be duped into making unnecessary payments of several hundred pounds.
"If you receive a demand for payment of any trade mark fees which has not come from your professional adviser, do not pay it," advised Maggie Ramage, a partner at Alexander Ramage Associates. "If in doubt, refer it to your trade mark attorney."
The invoices originate from addresses in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Liechtenstein.
9 February 2004
EU enlargement leads to trade mark deadline.
The European Union will expand on 1 May 2004, when ten new countries including Poland and Hungary will join the existing 15 member states. This will have ramifications in a broad range of areas, including the trade marks sector.
From that date, all Community Trade Marks will be automatically extended to all 25 countries of the enlarged EU. Transitional arrangements will operate, and one result of these has implications for companies intending to apply for trade marks within the EU.
"Companies should bring forward any applications they are considering for Community Trade Marks to ensure they are filed before 1 November 2003," advised Eric Ramage, senior partner of the Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates.
This is because a Community Trade Mark application filed in the six months before the new countries join the EU can be opposed by the holder of relevant prior national rights in any of the new countries. However, it will not be possible to object to a previously registered Community Trade Mark or one that has been filed more than six months before the new countries join the EU.
"For this reason alone," continued Ramage, "it makes sense for companies in existing EU countries to beat the 1 November filing deadline if they can. Another factor is that official fees for new filings are likely to rise once the EU is enlarged."
The legal basis for this advice is Article 142A, which will be inserted into Council Regulations (EC) No 40/94.
1 September 2003
Businesses advised to act now to protect their designs.
Applications to register designs under the new Community Design regulations can be filed from 1 April this year. By giving protection for new designs across the European Union, the Community Design is an important new weapon for businesses which adds to the protection already provided by trade marks.
But this advice from Eric Ramage of the Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates also carried a warning: "If a competitor beats you to it and gets their design registered first you could be kept off the market for the next 25 years."
The registered design can cover a wide range of products, providing they are new and have "individual character". It applies to parts, packaging, graphics, typefaces, logos etc. Features can include lines, contours, colours, shapes, textures and materials.
"It is important for businesses to protect their new designs for packaging as well as new product concepts," continued Ramage, "as copying does not have to be deliberate to count as an infringement." A registered design can be infringed by any similar design that does not give a different overall impression to the informed user.
Because a successful registration applies across the whole EU, the Community Design will be much cheaper than obtaining national registrations in individual member states. It can be registered for an initial period of five years and then renewed for further periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
Alexander Ramage Associates are UK Trade Mark Attorneys, and recognised as an association of European Trade Mark and Design Attorneys qualified to represent clients in all aspects of EU trade marks and designs before the EU Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) which protects trade marks and designs throughout the EU.
19 March 2003
DotEU internet domain on the way.
"Companies in the European Union can now look forward to being dotEUs," according to Eric Ramage of Woking-based trade mark attorneys Alexander Ramage Associates. He was commenting on the adoption of the .eu top level domain by the European Parliament and Council.
He advised companies who operate within the EU to consider applying for the new domain. "It won't stop cybersquatters trying to register your name, but it will help you thwart them by using the dispute resolution procedure," continued Ramage.
The .eu domain is being promoted by the European Commission to provide a European identity in the domain name system for European internet users.
As with existing domains such as .com and the new .info and .biz, possession of a registered trade mark will greatly strengthen a company's case if a dispute arises over ownership of the domain name.
28 May 2002
McVictory for Ramages in Chinese fast-food case.
Woking-based trade mark attorneys were asked by the McChina fast-food restaurant group to register its trade mark in 1992.
This incurred the wrath of McDonald's Corporation, who are well-known for closely guarding their trade marks. However, a High Court decision caused a minor international sensation on 28 November when it ruled against the burger giant.
"This highlights the power of registering your trade mark," said a delighted Eric Ramage, senior partner at Alexander Ramage Associates. "By preparing a sound application for the McChina trade mark, we ensured our client was able to stand up to the might of a multinational corporation."
McChina is a small group of Chinese takeaway outlets started by Frank Yuen in south-west London in 1991. Yuen, who has been deluged by interviews from the world's press, said: "I am extremely grateful to Alexander Ramage Associates for their support over all these years. It is fantastic to have our trade mark upheld."
The High Court judge, Mr Justice Neuberger, accused McDonald's of seeking to monopolise any name beginning with "Mc" or "Mac". He agreed that McChina's customers would not confuse their restaurants with those of the better known burger chain, which has 29,000 outlets worldwide. He ruled that the similarity in names was unlikely to confuse a "substantial" number of people.
The case was an appeal against an earlier decision by the Trade Marks Registry that went in favour of McDonald's.
Alexander Ramage Associates had appointed Godalming-based technology solicitors Lochners to act for McChina in the High Court hearing.
30 November 2001
Trade mark expert explains procedure for domain name disputes.
Disputes of over domain names have become a concern for an increasing number of companies and individuals since the growth of the world wide web. Interest in a new approach by Nominet to resolving these disputes has led to a busy schedule for trade mark specialist Eric Ramage, who has been outlining the proposed changes.
Ramage, senior partner at Alexander Ramage Associates, the Woking-based trade mark attorneys, has already addressed meetings in London and as far afield as Boston, MA. He explained that Nominet, who is responsible for the 'dot UK' top-level domain, currently only offers a mediation service, but that it was intended to include dispute resolution later this year.
At present, the only real basis for seeking the suspension of a dot UK domain name is to prove that its use is likely to cause confusion to internet users or danger to the internet. This is one reason why so few disputes are forced to a decision by Nominet, and why so many end up in court.
"Under the new proposals, if Nominet staff cannot broker a mediated settlement within 10 days, the disagreement will be decided by a single independent expert," explained Ramage, who is a member of the Nominet's policy advisory board. These experts will be rotated on a 'cab rank' basis.
Suggestions arising from the two-month consultation stage are currently being evaluated, and the new service is expected to come into operation in autumn this year.
7 May 2001
Trade mark turnround for retail services.
Following decisions on two recent test cases, the Registrar of Trade Marks has decided in principle that trade marks can now be registered for retail services. Previously, such services could only be protected by registering trade marks for the goods which were actually sold rather than for the service of selling them.
This meant that an electrical retailer, for example, could only register its name in respect of the category of the appliances it actually sold rather than the service of supplying those appliances.
Eric Ramage of Alexander Ramage Associates, the Woking-based trade mark attorneys, welcomed the change: "This means that retailers can now receive the same protection that has been available to other service providers since 1986. By registering their trade mark they will be able to prevent other traders from setting up retail businesses under the same or a confusingly similar name."
The ruling is a consequence of the Trade Mark Act 1994, which changed UK law in line with an EU Directive, so that the basic law would be the same in all EU countries. The two test cases on behalf of Debenhams and Dewhurst, which were sponsored by the British Retail Consortium, were put forward to establish that trade marks for retail services could be protected under this law.
Previously, case law had held that the purpose of a trade mark was as an indicator of origin of goods or services, and that trading in other people's goods (eg retailing) did not qualify as such a service.
Several hundred applications involving some aspect of retailing have been put on hold at the Trade Marks Registry while this question was being decided.
20 September 2000
Whose name is it anyway?
Jane Austen's reputation as a literary colossus is second to none globally. She wrote of a society of which she was part and so her genius also has educational angles of considerable importance. Not surprisingly, over the years a "fan club" arose. This was split into two branches, namely the Jane Austen Memorial Trust and the Jane Austen Society. The "Trust" acquired the house in which Jane Austen last resided in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire, now a museum dedicated to her tradition, to encourage and promote knowledge of her life and works and to education in the way her society was. The museum attracts many thousands of visitors annually. These increased considerably when, in co-operation with the BBC and Independent television, a number of films were made of the major Jane Austen books.
It was not surprising, following the showing of these films on television, that the attention of commercial interest was attracted to the free publicity given by the films, and as a result a certain Mr Pringle attempted to monopolise the Jane Austen name by applying to register it as a trade mark for cosmetics, toiletries and the like.
Naturally the Trust, who claim no special proprietorial rights in the Jane Austen name, were concerned for the reputation and standing of the Jane Austen name in the context of commercial exploitation of the type identified by the trade mark application, and sought to protect it. Jane Austen was not known for her vanity, and the association of her name with toiletries or cosmetics of any type would have been complete anathema to any follower of Jane Austen's works, and thus the Trust opposed the claimed monopoly by Mr Pringle.
The grounds of the Opposition were based on:
1. Section 3(1)(a) of the 1994 Act in that the mark is a sign which is not capable of distinguishing the goods of the Applicant from those of other undertakings.
2. Under Section 3(1)(b) the mark is devoid of any distinctive character, consisting of a common Christian name combined with a surname which taken together with the phonetically identical surname Austin "appears more than 400 times in the London residential telephone directory".
3. Under Section 3(3)(a) in that, given the reputation attached to the name Jane Austen, registration would be contrary to public policy having regard to the use which registration would enable the Applicant to make of the mark; the precedent it would establish for use by others; and the prejudice it would cause to the Trust or persons authorised by the Trust.
4. Under Section 3(3)(b) in that, given the reputation and literary status of Jane Austen, use of the mark is likely to deceive the public into thinking that the Applicant could have been approved by the Trustees. Further, it is said that use on goods other than those with a connection with the literature of Jane Austen would deceive the public as to the nature of the goods.
5. Under Section 3(6) in that the application was made in bad faith because the Applicant cannot claim to be entitled to the mark in suit; that registration and use would damage the literary and educational heritage of Jane Austen; that the Applicant is or should be aware that there is no connection with the works of Jane Austen and the Memorial Trust; and that there is no intention to use the mark on all or any of the goods in respect of which the application is made.
6. Under Section 5(4) in that use of the mark is liable to be prevented by virtue of any rule of law (in particular the law of passing off).
The Applicant simply denied all grounds of opposition.
This case is a classic example of the "well known person" trade mark issue. Readers may be familiar with the Elvis Presley litigation, that of the name Tarzan, Diana Princess of Wales' likeness and signature, all of which have fallen down on the grounds that the marks in question were not distinctive of the applicants' goods. Two of the three names were real people and could not be monopolised by a third person, as the applications would fail on the grounds of failure to identify origin, although the door remains open to acquire distinctiveness through use and reputation. Either way, the Opponents in the Jane Austen case did not pretend to claim a monopoly in the badge of origin of Jane Austen, simply to defend in absentia her reputation as a literary giant.
Regrettably, the case was not defended, other than by the filing of a formal Counterstatement denying the Opposition's case, with supporting comments in a side letter.
What is relevant in the Opponent's evidence is where it states in the lead declaration that "as the Applicant's application covers products in Class 3 of the official nomenclature, it is well known and documented that Jane Austen did not use cosmetics and toiletry products of any significance and therefore any product of this nature which might be sold bearing the Jane Austen name, signature or likeness, as listed in the Applicant's specification, herein opposed, is deceptive in suggesting that Jane Austen had any association with such products in her lifetime or that, if she did, she would approve of those which the Applicant will or may offer for sale. Jane Austen was not noted for her vanity as far as is known". It is significant to note here that the precedent cases - Elvis Presley and Tarzan - were dealt with under the 1938 Act, whereas the present case was under the 1994 Act. However, the deciding features of those cases were considered to be relevant by Mr Reynolds for the Registrar, subject to the proviso that each case had to be dealt with on its own particular facts. What was telling in this case was that there had been no known use of the Jane Austen trade mark by the applicant, Mr Pringle, so that there was a prima facie case to be considered. The Hearing Officer took the view that even though the Opponents had not indicated that Jane Austen was incapable of registration, certainly in the absence of any use the applicants could not possibly succeed. This was the view taken in the 1938 Tarzan case. The Elvis Presley case was, of course, somewhat different in that Elvis Presley was a real person; nevertheless Mr Justice Laddie's comments were worth noting:
1. Ignoring any trade mark rights which might be secured, neither the singer nor anyone else exclusively owned his name. There was no copyright in a name. Similarly, no-one owned his likeness, apart from any copyright which might exist in a particular reproduction.
2. Whether or not the names could have been registered before Elvis Presley achieved fame, their merits had to be judged at the date of application. At that date Elvis Presley was so well known that his name (Elvis was synonymous with Elvis Presley) possessed very little inherent distinctiveness.
3. Elvis and Elvis Presley were peculiarly suitable for use on a wide range of products sold as Elvis Presley memorabilia. These products were bought by many because they carried the names and likeness of the singer and referred back to him, not because they came from a particular source. There was no reason to believe that current merchandising practice led the public to assume in all cases that products bearing the name or likeness of a famous personality would come from a particular source, i.e. from the personality himself or from his beneficiaries.
4. In considering use and any other circumstances which would permit registration, all factors which pointed toward and away from distinctiveness had to be considered. There was no evidence that EPEI (opponents) used the proposed marks as trade marks, or otherwise, in the United Kingdom and there was no evidence that the public had come to regard them as trade marks. On the contrary, such evidence as existed concerning Elvis Presley memorabilia pointed away from distinctiveness.
The above views were endorsed by the Court of Appeal and the following comments by Morritt L.J. are worthy of note. In a sense it parallels the Jane Austen case in terms of product. For example "his brand of soap was called Elvis Soap because it was impregnated with an "image [of Elvis which] remains right to the end". It is not suggested that Mr Shaw (the defendant) had ever claimed any connection with EPEI (the opponents). Third, the fame of Elvis Presley was as a singer. He was not a producer of soap. There is no reason why he or any organisation of his should be concerned with toiletries so as to give rise to some perceived connection between his name and the product. In these circumstances I do not accept without evidence to that effect that the mark Elvis Presley would connote to anyone a connection between EPEI and Elvis soap so as to distinguish their soap from that of Mr Shaw's soap." (There was no evidence of use by EPEI of Elvis Presley in the United Kingdom.)
As a result of this, Counsel for EPEI forcefully contended that such a conclusion would leave the door open to unscrupulous traders seeking to cash in on the reputations of others. "This is true if, but only if, the mark has become so much a part of the language as to be descriptive of the goods rather than distinctive of their source. But in that event I can see no objection to any trader being entitled to use the description. In the field of memorabilia, which I consider includes consumer items bearing the name or likeness of a famous figure, it must be for that person to ensure by whatever means may be open to him or her that the public associate his or her name with the source of the goods. In the absence of evidence of such association in my view the court should be very slow to infer it."
Apart from the obvious parallels between the Elvis Presley and the Jane Austen cases, however, there are still considerable differences in that Elvis died in 1977 whereas Jane Austen died in 1817, which means that the Elvis Presley Enterprises in some way carried on and expanded on the merchandising activities which had been carried on by or on behalf of him before his death. No such claim is made in relation to Jane Austen. The Hearing Officer was not entirely swayed by the parallels, homing in on the fact that he had to consider whether use of the name Jane Austen in relation to the goods of the applicant would be taken as an indication of the trade origin where it would be devoid of distinctive character for any of the reasons advanced by the Opponents.
On the issue of character and personality rights, homing in on the Opponents' point dealing with public policy, there seems to be an unwillingness to legislate in this regard, which meant that the Opposition fell down on these grounds (3(3)(a) refers); similarly the opponents claim that the public would be deceived under 3(3)(b) into thinking that goods sold under the mark would have the approval of the trustees or that they had a connection with the literature of Jane Austen. As Jane Austen had no particular connection with cosmetics and toiletries any more than the other gift and souvenirs offered by the Memorial Trust, this cannot be the case. The public will be well aware of the nature of the commercial trade in such goods and will not be deceived into believing that a connection of the kind envisaged by the opponents existed, even if it were to extend into soaps, for example. The objection is really framed in such a way as to have more to do with association as to origin, which was not appropriate to Section 3(3)(b) and therefore the objections under both Section 3(3)(a) and 3(3)(b) failed. However, the objection under Section 3(6) was broken down into a number of components and in this context the Hearing Officer referred to the notes prepared for the 1994 Trade Marks Act when it was put before Parliament as a Bill, dealing with the issue of bad faith, and here he dispels the issue as being one where although there might be commercial opportunism in the case of Mr Pringle, it was not bad faith to adopt the Jane Austen name.
The Hearing Officer also rejected that it was inappropriate for the name of a historical literary figure to be registered as a mark, although there might be other reasons. The Hearing Officer also contended that he did not believe there would be any damage to Jane Austen's literary heritage. The Officer also disposed of the lack of intention to use in that there was no evidence to this effect. Finally, he refers to Section 5(4) dealing with the issue of an earlier right as being a basis for objecting to an application where refusal could be based on another rule of law dealing with unregistered rights, and here it is considered that no goodwill aspect has been provided by the opponents in terms of a breakdown of sales and their true meaning. Thus it remained for the decision to be considered under the provision of 3(1)(b) first reviewed by the Hearing Officer in that there was no evidence to indicate how traders or the public would view use of the name Jane Austen, since the applicants had made no use of the name for any of the goods covered with the application, whereas the Opponents had, and this is the only use with which the public would be familiar and that is in the souvenir trade and in the other activities conducted by the Opponents in the educational sense. In this context the Hearing Officer took the view that this use in its very limited scale would be seen as anything other than indicating the nature and subject matter of the goods and certainly not indicating origin, unless the public were educated through use to see the name differently.
12 September 2000
After the dot-com company, stand by for the dot-eu.
Companies disappointed to find that the dot-com name for their company on the internet has already been taken can look forward to an alternative. A new 'dot-eu' top-level domain has been proposed by the European Commission to ease naming congestion and help boost e-commerce within the European Union. The domain would be suitable for companies and other organisations operating across EU countries.
The proposal has just been debated at a consultative conference in Brussels, where it received an enthusiastic reception. "Now that dot-com names are virtually exhausted, the introduction of dot-eu would make more names available for European companies," said Eric Ramage of Woking-based Alexander Ramage Associates. Having attended the conference on behalf of Nominet, the UK domain name registry, he cautioned that although more domain names would be available, there would still be disputes when more than one company wanted to register the same name.
"When it comes to deciding who has the right to a domain name, it is a big advantage if you have your name registered as a trade mark," continued Ramage, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys. "This is a valuable weapon against 'cyber-squatting', which is where someone else registers a domain with your company's name and then hopes to make a big profit by selling to you."
It is expected that the consultation process will continue for some months before the proposal is put to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This is the international body that decides on the introduction of new top-level domain names.