The Internet of Things, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are IT mega-trends that are not only evolving rapidly, but also infiltrating practically every industry. While these technologies naturally raise data privacy concerns, they also pose challenges in relation to intellectual property and the ways in which IP-based relationships are established.
In a recent decision before the World Intellectual Property Organisation, a panel denied the transfer of a three-letter domain name, even though it identically reproduced a complainant's trademark, because the domain name had been registered years before the complainant acquired trademark rights and the complainant failed to demonstrate that the respondent was aware of those rights.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing exponentially. While most market players have good knowledge of their vertical competition, as increasingly more telecoms players enter the market, companies operating in the IoT field can expect these players to have IP rights that encroach on their future areas of business. As such, it is crucial for parties to assess any potential IP rights threats and proactively develop an IP rights strategy, in order to ensure that they have the freedom to act at a later stage.
The Gulf Cooperation Council Trademark Law and its implementing regulations were recently published in the Saudi Official Gazette. Although the law is a unified law, each member state is free to fix its own official fees. Unlike Kuwait and Bahrain – which each imposed a substantial increase in official fees – the implementing regulations in Saudi Arabia include a 7% reduction in the official fees for registering a trademark. However, this may change when the law is enacted.
As the Southern African Development Community will substantially increase cross-border trade between its constituent countries, trademark protection in neighbouring African countries may be advisable. Trademark registrations should thus be considered in each African country and cross-border trade should be taken into account.
While demand for branded goods is growing and counterfeit goods are on the increase, the IP rights protection measures available to rights holders differ from country to country, but remain largely inadequate in most African countries. As a result, a 'one size fits all' anti-counterfeiting strategy cannot easily be applied or adopted to cover the key regions and territories in Africa.
The registration of an international trademark under the Madrid Protocol has the same effect as if that trademark had been registered in a member country through a national trademark application. However, many African countries which have acceded to the protocol have not implemented the system by amending national legislation. Therefore, the validity of international registrations in several African territories with no implemented domestic legislation is questionable.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an intergovernmental multilateral financial institution proposed by the Chinese government for the purpose of financing infrastructure projects throughout Asia, has reclaimed its legitimate domain name from a squatter through an alternative dispute resolution procedure governed by the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre.