Archive for the ‘Trade Secrets’ Category

2011 Intellectual Property Day

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

World IP DayApril 26 is World Intellectual Property Day.  The date marks the 41st anniversary of the Convention establishing WIPO; the World IP Organization.  For the general public, the term “intellectual property” does elicit terms such as copyright, patents, industrial designs and trademarks. For most, these are business or legal concepts with little relevance to their own lives.  WIPO’s Member States decided in 2000 to designate an annual World Intellectual Property Day to raise awareness of the important role IP plays in everyday life.


Specific aims of the World IP Day are:

  • to raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life;
  • to increase understanding of how protecting IP rights helps promote creativity and innovation;
  • to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe;
  • to encourage respect for the IP rights of others.

This year’s theme is Designing the Future and, in his message, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry relates the central role of design and the protection it receives through IP in the following terms:

“Design touches every aspect of human creativity. It shapes the things we appreciate from traditional crafts to consumer electronics; from buildings and bicycles to fashion and furniture. Design has been called “intelligence made visible”.

Design is where form meets function. It determines the look and feel of the products we use each day – from everyday household items to the latest tablet computers. Design marries the practical with the pleasing. It brings style to innovation.

This year’s World Intellectual Property Day celebrates the role of design in the market-place, in society and in shaping the innovations of the future.

Originally referred to as “art in industry”, industrial design provides the means to differentiate between mass-produced objects, drawing us to one product rather than another, making one brand more successful than another. Behind every new design is a desire to break new ground, to improve and to enhance consumer experience. Good design makes products easier, more comfortable and safer to use.

With today’s increasing emphasis on ecologically sound living, “designing out waste” is now an aspiration shared by many creators. Sustainable design processes can help lower production costs and reduce environmental impact. The designs of the future will necessarily be green, and the intellectual property system will encourage designers to produce them, by helping to protect original designs against unauthorized copying and imitation.

In international markets, companies need to be able to protect their designs quickly and cost-effectively in several countries. WIPO’s Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs – which simplifies that process – saw a 30 percent increase in international applications last year.

On World Intellectual Property Day 2011 WIPO joins governments, organizations, schools and enterprises around the world in celebrating the designers today, who are designing the future.”


Bratz land latest blow against Barbie

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

We have commented on the long saga over the rightful ownership of the Bratz product line leading to the re-trial – which ended today – as to the importance of the proper consideration of the concept of profit apportionment and the scope of intellectual property rights of employees’ off-hours creations (Re-trial begins). The verdict, read today in court in case (CACD–04-cv-09049: Carter Bryant v. Mattel Inc.), gave MGA and Bratz creator Bryant a decisive victory by recognizing that it was they who held the copyrights to the toy line and that Mattel had, as counter claimed by MGA, actually incurred in trade secret misappropriation. The monetary damages award, which we fully expect will be appealed, came to a total of $88.5 million (As reported by the LA Times).

The issues highlighted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last summer, which we commented on at length in a white paper (available here), were just the starting point for this latest trial, where the counterclaims regarding unfair competition and trade secrets rose in importance.

In the profitable toy industry, the issues underlying this particular case continue at the core of the competitive forces and rivalries shaping legal and business strategies; intellectual property remains the single most important repository of value.

We continue to monitor developments in these areas as a matter of course in our IP consulting practice and, for now, we’ll re-ponder on the implications of one of Judge Kozinski’s key statements in the Appeal (emphasis added):

Mattel can’t claim a monopoly over fashion dolls with a bratty look or attitude, or dolls sporting trendy clothing—these are all unprotectable ideas.