The best way for a company to prepare for due diligence is through long-term measures: develop an IP strategy, implement it and maintain a record of the portfolio's status at all times. This should be done with the long-term goal of building value that will be identified and appreciated by a potential investor and reflected in a favourable due diligence report.
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.
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.
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.