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Good morning dear readers. We are ready for another week of IP news.

Hermès prevails over look-alike bags in Korea

For the past five years, Hermès has been facing Playnomore, a popular Korean handbag bag company known for its cartoon-eye bags, which Hermès claims make unauthorized use of its legally-protected Birkin and Kelly bag designs.

Hermès claimed that by recreating the distinctive designs of its most famous bags, such as the “source-identifying three-lobed flap design that fits around the base of the handle, padlock closure at its centre, key fob affixed to a leather strap, and a thin horizontal strap that fits over the flaps of its Birkin bag”, Playnomore was in breach of Korean’s unfair competition law. If the Korean handbag designer continues to sell similar products, like the ones offered by Hermès, their bag might end up substituting the demand for Hermès bags in some cases. Besides, this will decrease Hermès bags value and rareness.

On the left, Hermès Birkin bag; on the right, Playnomore bag

The Supreme Court of Korea sided with Hermès last week, establishing that Playnomore indeed violates the rules on Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act, which  prohibits companies/individuals from “causing confusion with another person’s goods by using signs identical or similar to another person’s name, trade name, trademark, container or package of goods or any other sign widely known in Korea as an indication of goods.” Neither the price difference between the two products (€300 for Playnomore and €13,000 and more for Hermès) nor the fact that Playnomore added a set of sequin eyes to his bags was considered relevant by the court.

The European Court of Justice invalidates the Privacy Shield EU-US

The EU-US Privacy Shield agreement that attempts to guarantee the secure transmission of EU data to the US, has been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice.

The ruling found that the scope of the US surveillance framework does not allow for a sufficient degree of protection for European data, putting it at a risk that would violate rights granted under the general data protection regulation (GDPR).

Indeed, under US law, the National Security Agency is allowed to collect foreign intelligence belonging to non-Americans located outside the US, by obtaining their data stored with electronic communications services providers, such as Facebook. The concerns of the ECJ arose because US provisions do not indicate any limitations on this power nor do they indicate the existence of guarantees for potentially targeted non-US persons (EU citizens do not have actionable rights against US authorities).

This decision effectively blocks legal transfers of personal data from the EU to the U.S. US companies will now have to rely on another legal basis (individual consent, model clauses…) to harvest data from the EU.

Interesting reads:

That’s it for this week. See you next week for our last post before our August break (don’t worry, the IP Sentinel is the only taking a break, the rest of our services will remain active as usual).