From January 2006 the Benelux trademark opposition procedure will cover all classes of goods, completing a phased introduction which began in 2004. Applications may be opposed by the holder of a Benelux, Community or international trademark application or registration, or by a licensee on the holder's behalf. Decisions may be appealed to the courts of appeal in The Hague, Brussels or Luxembourg.
The EU Biotech Directive has finally been transposed into Belgian law. However, certain parts of the new act - including those covering the extended experimental use exception and new compulsory licensing in the interests of public health - exceed the scope of the directive, in some cases raising questions about their validity and enforceability.
Recent amendments to the Copyright Act implement the EU Copyright Directive. The directive aims to harmonize the exclusive rights of holders of copyright and neighbouring rights and the restrictions placed on these throughout the European Union, and introduces new rules on the protection of technological measures and rights-management information.
Test-Achats, a Belgian consumer organization, has filed copyright infringement claims against four leading music companies over their use of technological protection measures on various CDs. It argues that consumers have an enforceable right to make private copies of copyrighted works, and that the technological protection measures interfere with this right.
The Belgian state has won control of the 'Belgie.be' domain name by availing of the alternative dispute resolution procedure of the Belgian regulator. This is available not only to trademark owners, but also to parties who have rights in a trade name, a social or corporate name, a geographical designation, a personal name or the name of a geographical entity.
The Belgian branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has filed two claims against a well-known internet service provider, Telenet. It claims that Telenet is infringing the rights of IFPI members by allowing users of newsgroups hosted by Telenet to swap files including copyrighted works.
Belgium has been found to be in breach of its obligations under the EU Rental and Lending Rights Directive. While the Belgian Copyright Law recognizes that authors should be remunerated for the public lending of their works, the amount they should receive has never been fixed. Collecting societies have thus been unable to collect remuneration for their members.
The Brussels Court of First Instance recently held that television companies are within their rights to fix the remuneration for authorizing the distribution of their copyrighted works, as long as the remuneration agreement does not reveal signs of abuse of a dominant position. The court found that no abuse of a dominant position or entry into a forbidden agreement had occurred.
The Benelux Uniform Act on Trademarks has been amended. The modifications introduce changes to the trademark application procedure which include allowing third parties to file oppositions to applications. Further, filing an application will no longer automatically allow the applicant to enforce its trademark while registration is pending.
The Brussels Court of Appeal has followed a January 2002 decision of the Court of Arbitration, which held that the prohibition against trademark owners claiming for injunctive relief for counterfeiting infringements was unconstitutional. However, the Antwerp Commercial Court recently refused to follow the decision.
The Brussels Court of Appeal has ruled that the modification of a bakery's design was not an infringement of the designer's copyright, as the building served a mainly utilitarian function. However, the court stated that such modifications must be limited to their purpose. In this case it found that hygiene and commercial considerations were valid reasons for modifying the design.
A recent decision of the Brussels Court of First Instance provides that legally acquired reproductions of copyrighted works can be copied without the payment of compensation to the copyright holder, as long as the copies are used only to advertise the future sale of the reproductions.
The Nivelles Commercial Court recently ordered a company to stop using the trade name 'champagnebeer' and related expressions in its advertising. The court found that 'champagne' is a geographical indication protected under the TRIPS agreement and Belgian legislation, and such use could appropriate or weaken its reputation.
A recent decision by the Court of Arbitration means that injunctive relief is now available for all trademark infringements, not just non-counterfeiting ones.
No right of destination is explicitly granted to authors by the Copyright Act of June 30 1994. However, a recent court decision has ruled in favour of this right.
In a recent case the European Court of Justice gave some important guidelines on the concept of the trademark owner's consent to the import of goods within the European Economic Area, and to the enforceability of sale restrictions towards third parties.
Including: Trademarks; Designs; Copyright; Patents
Many recent appeals before the court of first instance of the European Union concern trademarks that have been refused because they are found to be descriptive but not distinctive. This update examines two recent cases based on this point of law.
The transposition into Belgian law of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and Council on May 22 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society has already begun. A draft of the act has been filed with the Senate. This update discusses the proposed changes.
During the past year the Belgian courts have put an end to the so-called Belgian torpedo: a loophole that allowed patents to be infringed with impunity.