Heritage Audio are nothing if not bold. The Spanish company is
currently in litigation with AMS Neve Limited over the manufacture
and sale of the look and sound a like '1073'.
Their website states
'The name says it all – first introduced by Neve
in 1970....... We are proud to introduce what, to our knowledge, is
the most historically accurate reproduction ever made. Using the
same components, specifications and equally important, same time
consuming construction techniques, our 1073 looks and sounds as
good as a Rupert Neve era 1073 module and will last as
AMS Neve are understandably aggrieved. They are suing for
trade mark infringement in three marks, one European wide
registered mark '1073' and two other logo marks
registered in the UK incorporating a stylised sine wave. They say
that Heritage Audio are using marks which are confusingly similar
to the registered AMS Neve marks. The use of the AMS Neve marks by
Heritage Audio is not in dispute. Further the Heritage Audio
website indicates that the products on offer can be bought from a
UK distributor and that orders could be placed from anywhere in the
EU. While there was some dispute as to whether these statement
reflected the reality of Heritage Audio's business model
the court was happy to accept that Heritage Audio are targeting UK
customers. The question before the court at this preliminary stage
was whether the UK court had jurisdiction to hear a case that
concerned issues of infringement of an EU trade mark rather than a
UK trade mark.
The answer in short is that it seems not. The tests applied by
the court for the two types of mark are different. For the UK mark
the test hinges on where 'the harm to AMS Neve has taken
place'. For the EU mark the right place to bring a claim is the
place where the harmful actions are being conducted –
in this case by persons in Spain. While the prospect of a
different decision on infringement in the UK Court and the
Community trade mark court in Spain are remote, you cannot deny
that this is a very inefficient way of conducting litigation. It
may be best for AMS Neve to put the Spanish part of the case on
hold until a decision in the UK court on the UK trademark. Either
way we look forward to the next round and finding out whether or to
what extent Heritage Audio have overstepped the mark and can be
prevented from selling products using the AMS Neve brand.
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The focus on the product being obvious or anticipated as at a certain date provides powerful protection and commercial certainty without conflicting with a patentee's ability to obtain patent protection.
The High Court considered a claim by Azumi, the owner of high-end Japanese restaurant Zuma against Zuma's Choice Pet Products Limited (ZCPP) and its director Zoe Vanderbilt for trade mark infringement.
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