Dictionaries and Trade Mark


Hello. My name is Paul Harris, and this is my ‘Letter from Europe’, the first in what will be a fortnightly communique of my thoughts on the commercial world, and IP in particular. After all, I have been doing this for more than 30 years, so I trust that my views and observations will have some value and resonance for your own business or practice.

I thought I’d begin in the field of trade marks, a topic I know something about, having lectured on the Oxford University IP Diploma course for many years.

In this inaugural letter, I have chosen a topic that is a well-known frustration to brand owners–the use of trade marks in dictionaries, reinforcing the impression that the mark is generic. In part, this is because my good friend, Anna-Lena Wolfe, Head of Trade Marks at AB Tetra Pak, asked me recently about the issue, but also because I’m conscious of the shifting burden being placed on brand owners by the courts in Europe to establish that a mark has not become generic.

Please see full Letter below for more Information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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