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Telstra continues to see red over competitors’ use of yellow for phone directories

Telstra and, more recently, Sensis have published the well known Yellow Pages phone directories since 1975, and also used the “Walking Fingers” logo since shortly after that date. The applicants’ more recent online directories and mobile applications similarly have featured a yellow theme. Yellow has been a strong theme in the applicants’ marketing from an early date. Telstra and Sensis brought claims of misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off against three publishers of print and online phone directories (the PDC respondents). The relevant publications had yellow covers and yellow pages in the case of the print publications, and yellow icons, background and other visual elements in the case of online directories and mobile applications.

Failures to change corporate names and deliver up infringing material leads to fines for contempt

Late last year, the Federal Court ordered that the fourth respondent, Bob Jane, and the companies he controlled, be restrained from trading as a business under any name that is or includes the word JANE. The corporate respondents were also ordered to forthwith change their names, transfer certain domain names and deliver up promotional material to Bob Jane Corporation. Early this year, Bob Jane Corporation brought charges of contempt of court against each of Bob Jane and various of the corporate respondents he controlled for failure to comply with those orders. Bob Jane Corporation sought a declaration of guilt and imposition of a fine in relation to each alleged contempt.

When is an exclusive patent licence not so exclusive?

The first applicant, Damorgold, successfully established that JAI Products had infringed the patent in suit. A residual issue left for later determination was whether the second applicant, Vertilux, was an exclusive licensee of the patent and therefore also entitled to have initiated proceedings pursuant to section 120 of the Patents Act 1990. A written licence was in place between Damorgold and Vertilux that imparted on Vertilux an exclusive licence to exploit the patent, and also purported to record the terms of an oral licence between the parties said to have been in place at least since the start of 2006. Under the licence, Vertilux was entitled to grant sublicences, with Damorgold’s written consent (although Damorgold could waive that requirement).

Recent Victorian Offer of Compromise reform: costs inclusiveness, claim failure, pre-litigation offers and other changes

The Magistrates’ Court General Civil Procedure (Offers of Compromise Amendments) Rules 2014 bring the rules on offers of compromise in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (“MCV”) largely into alignment with the Supreme Court of Victoria (“VSC”) and County Court of Victoria (“CCV”) rules on offers of compromise. This amendment commenced on 1 August 2014. The VSC and CCV rules were amended on 1 September 2013 and 7 October 2013 respectively.

Copyright, ISPs and authorisation

The Commonwealth Government released an Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper (pdf) on 30 July 2014. Responses are required by 1 September 2014. The problem the discussion paper identifies is the high level of usage of the Internet by Australians to infringe copyright by downloading illegally movies, recorded music and the like and a perceived need, following the High Court’s decision in Village Roadshow v iiNet, to compel ISPs to negotiate with copyright owners about the introduction of systems such as ‘Notice and Takedown (and Put back)’ procedures.

Unsuccessful invocation of equitable principles to deflect a tax liability

The HCA disallowed a joint venturer’s claim to have derived a lump sum as constructive trustee. Alleged fiduciary duties owed to a non-venturer were not accepted. Alternatively, the venturer’s purported equitable assignment of his rights to the lump sum was not tax-effective.