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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

USA: BMW sues California garage for trade mark infringement

World Intellectual Property Review reports here that BMW North America has sued a garage in California over the unauthorised use of the roundel and "Mini-wings" logos.  Perhaps the surprising thing is that it was even worth reporting - although perhaps in the states it truly is a novelty. The manufacturer is seeking trial by jury and triple damages, which are certainly novelties to us on this side of the Atlantic, as well as attorneys' fees, a concept with which we are more familiar than American lawyers.

The same report mentions a case from a couple of weeks ago (7 July) in which a husband-and-wife team from Northern Ireland were jailed after admitting selling counterfeit BMW merchandise worth millions, or a million, depending on how you read the report. The parts - tyre valve caps, stickers and cufflinks are mentioned - were imported from Asia, and it took a combined investigation by BMW and the UK Intellectual Property Office (although I fail to see how it's their job - the police should surely have been dealing with it) to close it down. No mention of the trade mark owner making a civil claim, but perhaps with the defendants in prison it felt that it would be a waste of time. The fact that the male defendant was (is?) a churchwarden defies comment. As does the fact that they were sold on eBay, which could hardly be less secret.


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