Landmark Intellectual Property Cases and their Legacy

A new book has been published, dedicated to Ten Landmark Cases in intellectual property. The subjects range from French copyright to German unfair competition, US and European trademark and design law and US, patent law and enforcement. The book, published by Kluwer Law International in cooperation with the Institute of European Studies of Macau (IEEM) and edited by Christopher Heath (EPO) and Prof. Anselm Kamperman Sanders (University of Maastricht) bring together academics and practitioners covering cases across the IP field that had their impact over and above the borders of the jurisdiction where the case was first adjudicated. In the words of the editors: “Most of the cases selected in the book have been decided based on unusual facts that, in the eyes of the court, required unusual and novel solutions”.

Cases covered:


1. The “Shostakovich and John Huston” cases.  French avocat André Bertrand and Prof Peter Yu (Drake UniversityLaw School, USA) write about moral rights in the Shostakovich case, the famous composer who tried to stop the use of his music based on moral rights, both in the US and in France. The composer failed in the US but prevailed in France based on the copyright owner’s moral rights.  The second copyright case related to colorization of black-and-white movies by Ted Turner and the subsequent (re)filing of copyright for the colored versions of the B/W movies. Woody Allen called the colorization of films “an insult to artists and society”. The legal entanglement that followed is the subject of these two contributions, where Peter Yu  further elaborates on the American and Continental European differences on “moral rights  in his “Moral Rights 2.0“.

Unfair competition

2. case “International News Service  vs. Associated Press“. Prof. Matthias Leistner (Bonn University, Germany)  writes about unfair competition and tort in a case where AP news was being copied from public bulletin boards in Randolph Hearst International News Services. What, if any, protection should be granted to achievements in the absence of confusion?

Trademark law

4.Prof. Kamperman Sanders looks back at the ODOL (trademark for mouthwash) case in Germany on the role of confusion where for the first time the concept of dilution in trademark law as introduced which, for long, had its impact on trademark law systems elsewhere around Europe.

Patent law

5.   Darcy vs. Allen, is  – says Matthew Fisher – “undoubtedly one of the most greatly respected “elder statesmen” of the IP world”. It’s a very old case, a patent granted by Elisabeth the First in 1602. The court action related to an alleged infringement of Darcy’s exclusive privilege in the traffic of playing cards. Allen, knowing of the Darcy grant, had caused the manufacturer of a number of playing cards not made or imported under Darcy’s authority. The intricacies of former UK “patent” law is described in this article.

6. The Taiwanese Philips CD-R cases. Prof. Kung-Chun Liu deals with this case that relates to an alleged misuse of patent law in the manufacture and importation of CD-Rs, patented by Royal Philips of The Netherlands and the ramifications this case had outside Taiwan.

7.  The Anton Piller case. Prof. Alain Strowel and Vicky Hanley guide you through the history and implications of one of the landmark cases in patent enforcement.

8. The case eBay Inc. vs. MercExchange LLC and its impact on injunctive relief for patent infringement is dealt with by Severin de Wit . He looks at NPEs or patent trolls from a different angle than most other patent experts and industry leaders.

Trademark and trade names

9. Australian attorney Aldo Nicotra provides under the title “Hitting the Bricks” a comprehensive overview of the LEGO cases in various countries

10. the Budweiser cases. Christopher Heath deals with the impact that the various Budweiser trademark cases had on US and continental trademark law systems. Like with the LEGO cases, the outcome of the various cases was mixed.

Landmark Intellectual Property Cases and Their Legacy“, IEMM International Intellectual Property Conferences, publishers Wolters Kluwer and  IEEM (c) 2011, ISBN 978-90-411-3343-4