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Below is a reproduction of an update to file seisek.12.chapter10.04.eutrademarking from the Seichim / Sekhem Level 1 / 2 manual which was updated in November 2006 and November 2009.

 

The Microsoft Word version of the file may be found by clicking here.

 

 

 

TRADEMARKING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION 

 

 

I completed my training with Helen Belôt in her combined Reiki / Seichim / Sekhem system in September 1999.  As written earlier, I decided that I did not wish to continue to be a member of the Sekhem Association and did not renew my annual membership when it fell due. This meant that subsequently I was not eligible to receive any official updates on developments within the official Sekhem Association.

 

In 2001 / 02, I wrote my own training manual for what I had been taught by Helen. When I was writing it, I tried to research how other people were working with Sekhem through internet search and found two separate sets of references to legal actions relating to Seichim and Sekhem. The first had taken place in Australia some time earlier where application to trademark was made after training to Master Level had already taken place there.  The second had just taken place in the USA where application to trademark the name SEKHEM had been made by Helen Belôt.  The application to trademark the word SEKHEM in the USA had been made against the background of the name being used there in a variety of spiritual and healing contexts. There is even a registered Church by that name there.  Opposition against the application to trademark was led by the American Energy Master Diane Shewmaker and included a very substantial amount of documentary evidence showing that the use of the name was already widespread in the USA prior to the application to trademark.  The application to trademark did not succeed in its original form but approval was given to trademark the word written in upper case letters as SEKHEM and only when used in conjunction with the Sekhem logo. No trademarking approval has been given in the USA for the use of the word Sekhem in any context by itself  without the logo.  

 

At the time, I felt it was likely that application to trademark would be made in the UK. I would not get to know about it because I was no longer connected to the Sekhem Association or the Sekhem people here. Whilst I had been training, there had been some mention of the use of trademarking as a means to prevent people saying that they were genuine Sekhem healers when they were not. I was concerned about any potential application to trademark because there were already people here using the word Sekhem in healing systems for which the context was similar to Helen’s system. Their lineages were either in what Patrick Zeigler had been teaching or in Diane Shewmaker’s Sekhem–Seichim–Reiki (SSR) system. There were also other people using the name Sekhem in spiritual and healing contexts that had nothing to do with any systems brought in by Patrick or Diane or Helen. All; these people would all be affected should application to trademark be approved.

 

I kept browsing the UK Patents Office website on a regular basis. One day the regular searching threw up an application to trademark which had been made by Helen and which was dated 19th December 2000.  The application was being processed by the European Union’s Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante for trademarking of the name SEKHEM throughout the European Union.  I was concerned that a lot of innocent people who were already using the word Sekhem would no longer be able to should the trademarking be approved and decided to oppose it.

 

 

 

 

The EU Trademark Authorisation Procedure            

 

Essentially, there are two sets of procedures which are followed within OHIM once an application to trademark is received. The first is to publish details of applications to trademark, to receive applications of opposition to trademark applications following publication, and to go through due legal process to hear the oppositions to trademark in a special trademarking Court.  The second is for OHIM itself to review the market place for existing common use of what is to be trademarked and to identify whether there are other people and organisations using the same or very similar logos and slogans and names to those which are the subject of trademarking applications.  My application to oppose the application to trademark included material and arguments that were intended to feed into both procedural routes.         

 

 

 

 

EU Procedure – Application to Oppose

 

Application to oppose the trademarking application can only be made on the basis of a prior right to use the name to be trademarked. The EU law here is based upon the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property which most countries have signed up to. 

·        I argued that I had a right to use the word Sekhem prior to the date of application to trademark.  The EU did not accept this and ruled that Helen Belôt had a prior right over the word.  Prior right was determined to be based upon the earliest date of use or of ownership of the word, not the date of application to trademark.

·        I argued that I had a contractual right to use the work Sekhem which had already been given to me by Helen Belot prior to the date of application to trademark and that this would be affected by any approval of the trademarking. The Court determined that approval to trademark would be given on the basis of evidence of earliest date of use or of ownership of the word and that any contractual rights given after the earliest date would not influence the approval of the application to trademark. The Court advised that if I had a contractual right to use the word that pre-dated any trademarking approval, the remedy for any attempt by the trademark holder to restrict my use of the word would be to seek determination of my right to use the name at an English Court under English contract law.

·        I submitted correspondence from a number of other people using the word Sekhem in the European Union. The Court was not able to accept this evidence for the application to oppose procedural route because these people had not given me power of attorney to represent them.       

·        Nobody else within the European Union submitted an opposition to the trademarking.

 

 

 

 

EU Procedure – OHIM Review of the Market Place for existing common use

 

·        I presented evidence of the spiritual nature of the word Sekhem and argued that it was not appropriate for such a word to be trademarked. There was no basis in EU Law to consider this argument so it was rejected.   

·        I presented evidence of over two hundred examples where the word Sekhem was being used in the public domain. There were examples from nearly every country within the EU. One of the tests that OHIM makes to assess whether there is already existing common use of something to be trademarked is to find at least two hundred examples of the common usage. The evidence that I provided included the spelling of the word Sekhem in a number of different combinations of upper and lower case letters such as SEKHEM, Sekhem and sekhem. The Court advised that because application to trademark was for the word written in upper case letters only as SEKHEM, there was no application to trademark the word in other combinations of upper and lower case letters. Therefore, as the majority of examples of the use of the word that I provided were not all in upper case, I was not able to provide sufficient examples of common use of the word to lead to a rejection of the application to trademark. Additionally, when I applied to oppose the trademarking of the word in any combination of upper and lower case letters under the opposition procedural route, the Court would only allow my application in respect of the upper case version, SEKHEM.

·        One of the bases in law for determining whether a word is suitable for approval to be trademarked is its distinctiveness which separates it and makes it immediately recognisable from any words in common usage. I presented the EU with a lot of evidence showing the use of the word Sekhem in various contexts and argued that the act of writing it in upper case letters did not give sufficient distinctiveness to justify approval to trademark. The Court did not accept this argument.     

·        There is a legal concept in trademarking law called ‘passing off’. This means using very similar names or logos for products and services for which there is already a registed trademark. For example, we are all familiar with the trademarked Coca-Cola logo. If another cola manufacturer chose to bottle the drink in similarly shaped bottles and with a similarly designed logo but just changing the name slightly to Coca-Kola, in law this would be seen as an attempt to copy the Coca-Cola product and to ‘pass it off’ as the Coca-Cola product.  I made representation to the Court that even though I might not have found two hundred examples of the word Sekhem spelled in upper case letters, I had found sufficient examples of the word for one of the product classes for which approval to trademark was being sought, namely the category which included health care services, for there to be the potential of a legal quagmire in terms of the ‘passing off’ concept in respect of existing users of the name if Helen Belot’s application to trademark were approved. The Court seemed not to pick up this point and not to take it into account in their decision to approve the trademarking. 

·        I advised that should there be a change to what was to be trademarked so that there would be sufficient differentiation between the common uses of the word Sekhem and what was intended to be trademarked, I would withdraw my opposition. I suggested that a suitable option might be to register the trademark as Helen Belôt SEKHEM. This suggestion was not accepted by the trademark holder. 

 

 

 

 

What has been trademarked

 

Helen Belôt made application for the word SEKHEM to be given trademark status in certain product categories and the EU has now given approval for the following categories. These are internationally recognised classes for the purposes of trademarking under the Paris Convention. The EU trademark reference is #E2006393. It is valid in the following official product categories:

·        Class 03:
Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.

·        Class 33:
Alcoholic beverages (except beers).

·        Class 42:
Health care services inclusive of medical clinics, naturopaths; massage; medical assistance; pharmacy advice; physiotherapy; rest homes; sanitoriums.

 

 

 

 

Clarity

 

In the course of communications with the EU I was working on the basis that trademarking approval was for the word SEKHEM written in uppercase only and not was not for the word written in lowercase. The EU failed to respond to my requests for clarification on this

 

 

 

 

The Logo

 

A separate application was made by Helen Belot for trademarking rights over the Sekhem logo. This was approved by the EU. 

 

 

 

 

Territorial Jurisdiction of the EU trademarking approval

 

In general, the EU does not have legislative jurisdiction over what are recognised as the Overseas Countries and Territories. Webpage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_member_state_territories_and_their_relations_with_the_EU gives details of the OCTs. If you live in one of these territories please check to see whether the EU trademarking approval for SEKHEM applies to where you live. As far as I am aware, close to home here in the UK, the trademarking approval does not apply to its use in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. 

 

The trademarking approval extends to countries which joined the EU after the date of the approval and which will join the EU in the future. If the EU approved trademark is already trademarked in a country joining the EU, the local trademark owner may apply to a local Court to retain ownership of the trademark in the territory of the joining country. Details of all of this can be found on OHIM website at http://oami.europa.eu/ .

 

 

 

 

My position

 

When I was training with Helen, I sought clarification from her that we had an agreement for myself and all my students and their students down through my teaching line in perpetuity to teach her system and to use her teaching materials and logo. This she confirmed. This means that a contract to that effect exists in English law. There were no conditions attached. Although I do not usually write Sekhem in upper case letters anyway, should there ever be any difficulty between Helen and myself or between Helen and anybody within my teaching line, it would be best if the matter went to Court for determination.  As far as I am aware at this stage, anybody in my teaching line is eligible to use the word Sekhem written in whatever way they wish and in whatever product categories they wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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