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Friday, 31 January 2014

Weatherseal agrees to improve business practices  - The Office of Fair Trading

This announcement from the OFT, though not of direct effect on the motor trade, nevertheless describes an important event in consumer protection.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Jaguar Land Rover ополчился на продавца детских велосипедов - Известия - JLR fought seller of children's bicycles - Izvestia

Here's the story, which tells of a legal action brought by JLR against Rospatent, the Russian Federation's intellectual property office, over the trade mark FUNNY JAGUAR used by a maker of children's bicycles. The carmaker challenged the grant of the trade mark to an entrepreneur, Alexander Petrov. The Chamber of Patent Disputes thought that Mr Petrov's trade mark was not similar to Jaguar's: "Due to the adjective funny, contested trademark generates associations connected with the image of fun, funny jaguar, while opposed signs have associations with the speed and the election," the board of the Chamber of Patent Disputes concluded. At least, that's how Google Translate has rendered the board's comments, demonstrating typically Russian problems with definite and indefinite articles. How the election became involved is a mystery, and what JLR will think of the obvious inference that their cars aren't fun remains to be seen.

If I can find out more from any of my Russian friends I will let you know. 

Australia backs Toyota in working conditions legal battle -

Australia backs Toyota in working conditions legal battle -

FLA calls on FCA to listen to dealers | Auto Retail Network

FLA calls on FCA to listen to dealers | Auto Retail Network

UK: Police smash Nissan parts theft gang [feedly]

UK: Police smash Nissan parts theft gang

 via my reader

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Man faces charge in criminal cartel investigation  - The Office of Fair Trading

The Office of Fair Trading's press release says:

A man appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court today to face a
charge under section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002, the criminal cartel

Peter Nigel Snee was charged on 13 January 2014 following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.

Mr Snee has been charged with dishonestly agreeing with others to
divide customers, fix prices and rig bids between 2004 and 2012 in
respect of the supply in the UK of galvanised steel tanks for water
storage. The alleged arrangements related to a number of businesses,
including Franklin Hodge Industries Limited, Galglass Limited, Kondea
Water Supplies Limited and CST Industries (UK) Limited. For more
information, see the case page.

Mr Snee is due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 4 February 2014 for a Preliminary Hearing.

Crime and Disorder Act 1998 reporting restrictions apply and the OFT is unable to publish further details at this stage.

The OFT is also conducting a related civil investigation into whether businesses have infringed the provisions of the Competition Act 1998.
That investigation concerns the supply of galvanised steel tanks for water storage.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Non-use of a trade mark, and launching a new car

To keep a registered trade mark alive, the owner has to use it, and if it is not used for five years or more the law dictates that it can be revoked. Because it’s not always possible to use a trade mark in the normal way (applying it to goods, or supplying services under it) the law gives the owner a bit of latitude: there might be good reasons why the trade mark could not be used (perhaps raw materials could not be obtained). There might simply be no demand for the goods, or the owner might be busily using the trade mark to drum up some business. What does the  owner have to do to satisfy the powers that be that it has used the trade mark, but failed to sell anything?
This area of law was examined recently in a case involving two of the best-known names from the golden age of the British motor industry, Healey Sports Cars Switzerland Ltd v Jensen Cars Ltd [2014] EWHC 24 (Pat) (24 January 2014). It boiled down to a matter of whether Healey, which bizarrely owned the Jensen trade mark, had actually used it or not.Before the High Court, the case was an appeal from the Trade Marks Registry’s hearing officer, and was therefore limited to a review rather than being a rehearing: but Healey, which had lost in the Registry, put forward some important arguments to support its contention that it had used its trade marks.
The EU’s Court of Justice has considered what will amount to ‘genuine use’ in a number of cases, summarised by the deputy judge in the present case. Merely token use, designed only to preserve the trade mark rights, will not count. It must be aimed at maintaining or creating an outlet or a share of the market. Where the product is beer or perfume, there is a relatively small step between announcing your product to the world and supplying it to customers: with a new car, it’s a great deal further removed. Healey argued that they had made the world aware of their proposed new Jensen car, and that they were developing it for production, and on the face of it that must be a good argument for a car manufacturer to advance. However, the publicity had attracted no expressions of interest, photographs of prototypes gave no information about whether they had been made during the key five-year period (and anyway the prototypes had no badges visible on them), press coverage did not amount to use of the trade marks by Healey, and the fact that Healey’s press announcement had been put out three days after they had become aware of Jensen’s plans for a new car created a negative view in the miind of the deputy judge. A cautionary tale, therefore, for trade mark owners who aren’t actually using their valuable property.

Friday, 10 January 2014

US: Dealerships settle deceptive advertising charges in FTC sweep

Automotive News reports  that nine dealerships have settled cases brought against them by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising. A tenth dealer has not settled. The FTC's own statement can be read here. It tells us:
According to the complaints, the dealers made a variety of misrepresentations in print, Internet, and video advertisements that violated the FTC Act, falsely leading consumers to believe they could purchase vehicles for low prices, finance vehicles with low monthly payments, and/or make no upfront payment  to lease vehicles. One dealer even misrepresented that consumers had won prizes they could collect at the dealership.