Saturday, August 11, 2007

Israel - trademarks - Important rulings were given by the trademark office, concerning a petition to erase a trademark due to lack of use

In a decision about the trademark "MIG" (a petition to cancel the registered trademark no. 138834) the registrar considered a petition to dismiss a trademark due to lack of use.The owner of the trademark and the petitioner both work in the Russian journalism field in Israel and publish magazines in the Russian language for the Russian public in Israel.The newspaper of the petitioner is published under the name "MIG" which is similar in its design to the registered trademark of the owner.The petitioner requested to cancel the trademark since the owner of the trademark had not been using it for 3 years except for a single use, which was allegedly performed in bad faith.The petitioner claimed that the main use of the registered trademark relates to its graphical design, publishing workbooks and advertising brochures. These uses, so was claimed, were unrelated to journalism since 1999. It was argued that the brochure was published in bad faith and not as real business activity. The trademark was registered as a "defensive trademark". The petitioner claimed that on his part, he had been publishing a weekly magazine and a website since 2003. The choice the name "MIG" is purely coincidental since it is the initials of the company's name and has a meaning in Russian.The trademark owner argued that, he did not use the trademark since the Israeli market is too small for two newspapers using the same name. He claimed that large amount of money had to be attributed in litigation against the petitioner. The aggressive competition that the petitioner created prevented him from continuing to publish the newspaper. Finally, he asserted that the petitioner acted in a bad faith.

The decision:As to the use of the trademark:The trademark owner failed to convince the registrar that the publishing the brochure in 2003 is enough to be considered as "use" according to clause no. 41 of the Trademark Ordinance. The website is non-relevant, as it is not considered "use" in the same class.The fact that the newspaper was published only once can not be considered as a "normal use" in a "normal business". In addition the timing was odd and the explanation was not satisfying. Therefore, the registrar ruled that the trademark owner did not use the trademark according to the relevant goods it was registered for, during the last 3 years before the petition to erase was filed.Special circumstance in trade: The Trademark Act requires the prove of "special circumstance in trade" for non-use. The trademark's owner claimed that even if the registrar rules that there was no a use of the trademark within the last 3 years before the petition to cancel was filed, there were special circumstance in trade that prevented the use of the mark. He explained that in fact, the acts of the petitioner had created a "block market and wild competition".The registrar held that the reason for lack of use is mainly due to lack of finance and profitability potential in publishing a newspaper. It was held that the aggressive competition indicated by the trademark owner can not be considered a special circumstance in trade. Competition exists in almost every field. A competition in a market where the trademark's owner works, hard as it may be, can not be considered as special circumstance that justified lack of use. Actually, the competition was supposed to encourage the trademark's owner to use their trademark even more in order to maintain their status in the market.The registrar ruled that special circumstances in trade which justify the lack of use did not exist. Therefore, the petition to erase the trademark was accepted.Migdor Ltd. v. Boris Gail and Oleg Kaldovasky- A petition to dismiss a registered trademark no. 138834.

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