Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Anil Balchandani

Partner, Advocate & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Singapore

I.R.B Law LLP

Intellectual property (IP) can constitute the very heart and soul of business. And the need to maximise and enhance the value of IP assets has intensified.

 

Businesses likewise see the potential benefits involved in protecting their IP rights against infringement. International markets have created more opportunities to leverage IP, but also more markets in which business must protect it. The forces driving this need are both wide-ranging and formidable.

 

Today more than ever, businesses require IP strategies that provide protection – a robust platform for litigation avoidance that enables them to remain focused on their business.

 

There are enormous challenges in building, enforcing, protecting and managing brands and intellectual property rights across multiple markets and borders. New technologies åand the business models based on them have disrupted present enterprise models.

 

IRB’s IP practice brings together a cross-disciplinary group of solicitors with a broad range and depth of experience in the areas needed to assist clients with commercial Trademark issues.

A case Study

A recent case between South Korean company LG Electronics Inc. and Beats Electronics (makers of the Beats headsets and the mark “BEATS”) is presented to assist companies intending to register marks that may appear to be similar to another’s mark. LG registered “QuadBeat” for products contained in Class 9, including “Audio Receivers; and Headphones”.

 

Beats also alleged that LG’s application was made in bad faith as there was a likelihood of confusion because the marks: Quadbeat and the BEATS mark were similar; and the similarity of the goods.

 

The IP Adjudicator hearing the case found that the two marks were more dissimilar than they were similar. The decision was announced on 16 September 2016.

 

The steps used to arrive at this decision are as follows:

(a)  The first step is to determine whether the marks themselves, Quadbeat and BEATS, are similar (in the sense that they are more similar than they are dissimilar); if not, the enquiry ends.

(b)  the second step is to determine if the goods and/or services are identical or similar; if not, again the enquiry ends.

(c)   the third step is to determine whether as a result of the similarity and identically/similarity found in relation to the first two steps there ‘exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the pubic.

 

Since the IP Adjudicator’s finding that QuadBeat and BEATS were more dissimilar than similar. LG’s was allowed to register “QuadBeat”.

 

Concerning the allegation of bad faith, LG’s registration of QuadBeat cannot be bad faith especially when BEATS is a common word that is highly referred to in relation to the particular goods for which it is registered.

 

The full grounds of decision can be found at http://www.ipos.gov.sg/Services/HearingsandMediation/LegalDecisions/2016.aspx.

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