Candy, beer, and Apple… There’s a bit of a food and drink theme in IP news this week. Who’s hungry?
- Chocolate or gummi bears? That question is facing a German court this week. Not which candy they prefer, but whether there is trademark infringement relating to a gold bear. Gummi candy maker Haribo makes a gummi candy product called Gold-Bears. Meanwhile, Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprungli introduced a chocolate bear last year wrapped in gold foil. Haribo is now suing Lindt for trademark infringement. Lindt claims that it intentionally avoided using the word “gold” in the product’s marketing or the bear’s name, which is simply “Teddy.” Lindt also states that the companies’ offerings are so different that the likelihood of confusion among consumers is minimal. An informal survey conducted by Confectionery News makes a similar finding.
- In a less common situation, Budweiser is requesting that its products not be identified in the movie “Flight,” starring Denzel Washington. Washington’s character is an alcoholic who sips a Bud while driving in the film. Anheuser-Busch states that it would never promote alcohol abuse and has asked Paramount Pictures to remove or obscure the beer label from future video and digitally released versions. However, Paramount has invoked the doctrine of fair use. Under certain circumstances, fair use allows for the use of use of intellectual property without the owner’s permission. No legal action has been taken yet on behalf of either the brewer or the film company. Regardless, we suggest that our readers of legal age take pride in their beer and drink something with flavor.
- A new patent granted to Apple may be showing us the shape of things to come in that field. The tech giant has patented the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners for a “portable display device.” The patent applies to ornamental features only that serve no functional purpose. One law professor opined that the patent provides no advantage to Apple because competitors aren’t trying to sell iPad lookalikes. (Perhaps this is doubly true after Apple’s big win against Samsung for infringing on the iPhone earlier this year.)
- Lastly, a little bird told us that Twitter has recently revised its copyright policy. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows copyright owners who find online infringements of their IP to submit takedown notices to service providers requesting removal of the materials. When Twitter receives such a request, it is now posting in a notice in the alleged offender’s feed that says “This tweet from @username has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.” Twitter will also be posting copies of the takedown requests for public review. The social media company has implemented the new policy in an effort to improve transparency.