PAXIL AND IXEL TRADE-MARKS: NO RISK OF CONFUSION FOR THE ANGLOPHONE CONSUMER, FEDERAL COURT RULES 1001 Square-Victoria - Bloc E – 8th Floor Tel.: (514) 987 6242 - Fax: (514) 845 7874 Further to an appeal launched by the Appel ant pursuant to subsection 56(1) of Canada's Trade-marks Act, (R.S.C. 1985, c. T-13), the Trial Division of the Federal Court of Canada overturned the Registrar’s decision maintaining the Respondent’s opposition to the application for the trade-mark IXEL based on its finding that there was no risk of confusion between the trade-marks PAXIL and IXEL (Pierre Fabre Médicament. v. Smithkline Beecham Corporation, T- On December 9th, 1993, the Appel ant filed an application for the trade-mark IXEL under application number 743,101 in association with antidepressants. This application was based on proposed use in Canada. On November 22nd, 1994, Respondent filed a statement of opposition. On September 11th, 1998, the Registrar of Trade-Marks rejected Appel ant’s application after a finding of confusion with Respondent’s registered trade-mark PAXIL in association with identical products. The Appel ant filed an appeal before the Federal Court of Canada and on March 30th, 2000, the Federal Court granted the appeal and held that there was no risk of confusion between IXEL and PAXIL. The Respondent appealed the Federal Court’s decision of March 30th, 2000 and on February 13th, 2001, the Federal Court of Appeal granted the appeal claiming that the first instance judge as wel as the Registrar had erred as to LEGER ROBIC RICHARD / ROBIC, 2004 * Published at (September 2004),18-9 World Intel ectual Property Report 4-5, under the title "Paxil and Ixel: No Risk of Confusion For Anglophone Consumer, Court Rules". Publication 142.166. the applicable test for confusion and proceeded to remit the matter to the Trial Division for determination on the merits. Federal Court Trial Division Decision (de novo) The Trial Division determined that the issue at bar was the fol owing: on the balance of probabilities, would the average anglophone consumer with imperfect recol ection and based on first impressions, be confused between the marks IXEL and PAXIL ? In assessing the risk of confusion in accordance with the criteria enumerated in section 6 of the Trade-marks Act, the Court made the fol owing findings: (i) the inherent distinctive character of the marks Both the marks IXEL and PAXIL are unique and invented words that are uncommon and as such this element favored neither party. (i ) length of time marks used and extent to which they have become known Despite Respondent’s evidence that since 1997 the PAXIL product was the best sel ing antidepressant in Canada, the Court held that there was no evidence of use of the PAXIL trade-mark which accrued to Respondent (no proof of Respondent’s direct or indirect control of the quality or characteristic of the product was furnished). Consequently, this element could not favor the Respondent. (i i) The marks were associated to identical products, i.e. antidepressants and therefore the likelihood of confusion increased; a factor that clearly favored the Respondent. (iv) nature of the trades Both of the parties’ antidepressants were sold in the same manner, i.e. under prescription from a doctor and subsequently purchased from a pharmacist. The Court opined that even though the nature of the parties’ trade was identical, the risk of confusion was reduced since these products are provided by professionals who are accustomed to meticulously exercising care in distinguishing between the names of different products. As such, this element favored the Appel ant. (v) degree of resemblance between the marks With regards to the ideas suggested by the trade-marks, the Court held that no confusion ensued since both marks were distinctive and were not suggestive of any particular meaning in either the French or English languages. As for the appearance of the marks at issue, the parties had agreed that for the average francophone consumer, there was no likelihood of confusion. The Court then turned to the issue of determining the likelihood of confusion based on the phonetic similarity of the trade-marks (for the average anglophone consumer) for which linguistic expert evidence was adduced. Expert evidence Both the Appel ant and Respondent relied on the testimony of their respective linguistic experts. The Respondent’s expert opined that the majority of anglophones would pronounce the second syl ables of the marks in an identical manner, thus resulting in confusion. The Appel ant’s expert argued that the first syl ables of the marks were of greater importance and that the letter “P” in Respondent’s PAXIL mark provided for a unique and entirely different pronunciation from the letter “I” in Appel ant’s IXEL mark. The Court held that the Respondent’s expert witness’ testimony lacked objectivity in that no analysis was made as to the impact regarding the differences in the first syl ables of the marks. On the other hand, the Court accorded greater probative value to the Appel ant’s expert evidence and agreed that the first syl able was more important than the second syl able. Consequently, the Court decided that on a phonetic level there was no risk of confusion between the marks at issue for the average anglophone consumer. It is interesting to note the Court mentioned that linguistic expert evidence is of limited value in that it does not take into consideration other factors required in assessing the risk of confusion. For instance, the Court stated that psychological factors (rather than linguistic ones) such as first impressions and imperfect recol ection were not elements considered by the linguistic experts. Based on the above elements, the Court concluded that the nature of the parties’ trade, that is, prescription drugs, coupled with the smal degree of resemblance between the marks, lent support to the Appel ant’s argument of non-confusion. As such, the Court rejected Respondent’s opposition and ordered the Registrar to al ow the Appel ant’s mark to registration. This case serves as a reminder to trade-mark practitioners that while the assessment regarding the risk of confusion between marks can be made in the context of the average bilingual consumer, consideration must be given to the unilingal consumer be it in the English or French languages. ROBIC, un groupe d'avocats et d'agents de brevets et de marques de commerce voué depuis 1892 à la protection et à la valorisation de la propriété intel ectuel e dans tous les domaines: brevets, dessins industriels et modèles utilitaires; marques de commerce, marques de certification et appel ations d'origine; droits d'auteur, propriété littéraire et artistique, droits voisins et de l'artiste interprète; informatique, logiciels et circuits intégrés; biotechnologies, pharmaceutiques et obtentions végétales; secrets de commerce, know-how et concurrence; licences, franchises et transferts de technologies; commerce électronique, distribution et droit des affaires; marquage, publicité et étiquetage; poursuite, litige et arbitrage; vérification diligente et audit; et ce, tant au Canada qu'ail eurs dans le monde. La maîtrise des intangibles. ROBIC, a group of lawyers and of patent and trademark agents dedicated since 1892 to the protection and the valorization of al fields of intel ectual property: patents, industrial designs and utility patents; trademarks, certification marks and indications of origin; copyright and entertainment law, artists and performers, neighbouring rights; computer, software and integrated circuits; biotechnologies, pharmaceuticals and plant breeders; trade secrets, know-how, competition and anti-trust; licensing, franchising and technology transfers; e-commerce, distribution and business law; marketing, publicity and label ing; prosecution litigation and arbitration; due diligence; in Canada and throughout the world. Ideas live here. COPYRIGHTER IDEAS LIVE HERE IL A TOUT DE MÊME FALLU L'INVENTER! LA MAÎTRISE DES INTANGIBLES LEGER ROBIC RICHARD NOS FENÊTRES GRANDES OUVERTES SUR LE MONDE DES AFFAIRES PATENTER R ROBIC ROBIC + DROIT +AFFAIRES +SCIENCES +ARTS ROBIC ++++ ROBIC +LAW +BUSINESS +SCIENCE +ART THE TRADEMARKER GROUP TRADEMARKER VOS IDÉES À LA PORTÉE DU MONDE , DES AFFAIRES À LA GRANDEUR DE LA PLANÈTE YOUR BUSINESS IS THE WORLD OF IDEAS; OUR BUSINESS BRINGS YOUR IDEAS TO THE WORLD

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