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News article3 February 2022European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

David Bowie, Blackberry and Clustermedizin



News from the U.S., involving Warner Music’s purchase of David Bowie’s songwriting catalogue. 

Negotiations between Bowie’s heirs and Warner Chappel Music had already started last year, but finally concluded this January, with Warner acquiring the recording catalogue of the artist.

The deal is worth a total amount of 250 million US dollar and includes the songwriting catalogue from 1968 to 2016, year of the author’s death. 

Many artists are now selling their publishing rights to music companies, as due to the Covid pandemic, they have seen their incomes reduced, since they couldn’t organise concerts or launch new albums. Meanwhile, by purchasing these artists’ catalogues, music companies are boosting their revenues over the royalties, promoting licensing and performing brand deals. 

From an intellectual property perspective, selling rights to a music catalogue means that the artist transfers its exclusive rights over the musical work to music companies, which can imply either the entirety of the rights or only some of them (in this case, known as a licence).  

Therefore, the transfer of copyright will grant the new owner with the reproduction or distribution rights, but the artist can retain some other rights. 

Bowie’s legacy was not the only one sold recently. Sony purchased Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue early last month; Bob Dylan’s was purchased by Universal Music or Tina Turner’s by BMG; these are just examples of artists that decided to sell their rights. 



Blackberry, the notorious mobile company, that experienced a boom/ success during the 2000s, announced that their mobile devices would stop working. 

Blackberry has been one of the most innovative companies in the sector, integrating the QWERTY physical keyboard into their devices and using the “BBM” instant messaging service that preceded WhatsApp. However, it wasn’t able to follow the path of other strong competitors in the field and changed its business activity into cybersecurity and software used by automakers.

Moreover, early this week, a new announcement was released, informing about the agreement reached to sell their “Legacy” patents to Catapult IP Innovations. Patents which are essential to Blackberry technology are excluded from this agreement, as apparently only the mobile related ones are involved. 



The General Court (GC) has rejected the registration of the word mark “Clustermedizin” for pharmaceutical and medical products designated in classes 5, 9 and 44. This decision was at a first instance issued by the Boards of Appeal of the EUIPO, on the basis that the sign didn’t fulfil the requirements set forth in article 7.1.b and c, namely that it was lacking of distinctive character and descriptive. 

The sign “Clustermedizin” could be perceived as descriptive for the German public, since it was used to describe a holistic therapy method. The Clustermedizin is an alternative therapeutic method, by which it is possible to diagnose possible diseases- even future ones-, or other disorders present in the human body, just by analysing the crystallisation of the samples obtained from the patient’s blood, urine and other fluids. It also includes spagyric preparations prescribed to restore the disorders present in the body. 

In this case, the products designated in the application related to “pharmaceuticals and food supplements”, can be understood as products developed according to this therapeutic approach. The same for the medical and therapeutic services included in class 44, which can be perceived to have the same curative approach. 

The Court concluded that no registration could be granted for the word sign sought and therefore the appeal must be dismissed. The motivation given is that since one of the potential meanings of the sign designates one characteristic of the product, then it will be perceived by the relevant public as a cluster-based medicine, making it descriptive.  Consequently, this would be against article 7.1.c) of the EUTMR, making the sign not suitable for registration. 


Publication date
3 February 2022
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency