Apple and Zynga branded trademark “bullies”

Tech giants Apple and Zynga are among the top five trademark “bullies”, according to new data, which identifies companies involved in the highest number of trademark infringement cases.


The findings, published by trademark search engine Trademarkia, are based on data from the US Patent and Trademark Office.


Kellogg North America appears as the top trademark “bully” for 2011, followed by The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Apple, Zynga and snowboard maker K-2.


The legal team of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was ranked number eight.


Facebook has been known to sue companies because they have the word “face” or “book” in their name, while Apple has protested over the use of the words “Pad”, “app” and “pod”.


Meanwhile, The Lance Armstrong Foundation has repeatedly attempted to block use of the word “strong” by other companies.


While it can be difficult for smaller companies to avoid being “bullied” over trademarks and patents, the International Chamber of Commerce is attempting to make it easier.


The ICC has launched the latest edition of IP Roadmap, an up-to-date guide on intellectual property, including the impact of technology on patents.


The publication, ICC Intellectual Property Roadmap: Current and Emerging Issues for Business and Policymakers, has been updated to highlight IP developments throughout the world.


Containing contributions from ICC experts from around the globe, the IP Roadmap is a useful reference tool to help businesses keep pace with the rapidly-evolving IP landscape.


Contentious issues include the increasingly high cost of obtaining and enforcing patents, and the harmonisation of patent laws worldwide.


“Work on substantive harmonisation of patent laws worldwide has been ongoing at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) since 1984,” the report said.


“But even before international substantive patent law harmonisation is achieved, significant progress can be made to enable work-sharing among national patent offices.”


“Patent offices engaged in such work-sharing will retain the ultimate responsibility of deciding for themselves whether a patent should be granted or not.”


The report also highlights the development of new technologies and the subsequent impact on intellectual property laws.


“The commercial application of new technologies… has led not only to the development of new types of products [and] services, and forms of distribution, but also to new methods of infringement,” it said.


“Unless traditional business… take note and respond quickly and accordingly, to both opportunities and challenges, they risk being overtaken by developments.”


“Business must highlight the important and beneficial role that IP rights play for SMEs, spin-offs and start-ups in the context of cooperation, collaboration, specialisation and financing.”


“The intellectual property system is a precondition for markets for technologies and innovations that are often developed by SMEs.”


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