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Porterhouse group loses trademark row over ‘Port House’ name for tapas chain

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The Porterhouse group has expressed confidence that it can continue to use “The Port House” as the name for its chain of tapas bars, despite losing a legal row to register it as a trademark within the EU after running foul of a body established to protect the reputation of Port wines.

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that the use of the name The Port House by the Irish brewing and bar/restaurant group could cause confusion among consumers who might think the tapas bars were associated with the famous sweet fortified wine.

EUIPO upheld a challenge by a Portuguese public institute established to certify and protect the use of the name “Port” for wine products made in the Douro Valley in Portugal.

The Porterhouse group’s business development director, Elliot Hughes, said the ruling was disappointing but added that further legal advice was being sought to see if it would be appealed.

“We hope that we will be able to retain the name but it is not something we will be able to register as a trademark if the ruling stands,” Mr Hughes said.

He added: “The trademark has been refused. However, this makes no impact on the restaurants going forward. We don’t expect to have any negative consequences from the decision.”

The Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP) claimed the name “Port” and other variations including “Port wine” have protected status under EU regulations since December 1991.

Unfair advantage

It claimed the protection also applied to products not belonging to the wine sector when use of the word “Port”, without due cause, would take unfair advantage of the distinctive character of Port.

The IVDP said the protection provided by the EU was the result of a long history that dated back many centuries, with wine specialists recognising the superior quality of wines protected by the protected designation of origin (PDO) “Port”.

The IVDP said it had made continuous and significant efforts to promote the PDO “Port” throughout the world and had spent significant amounts of money in the promotion and advertising of wine protected by it.

It claimed the Porterhouse’s proposed use of “The Port House” was “confusingly similar both visually, aurally as well as conceptually”.

The IVDP said the average consumer who saw the sign would be left wondering if the establishment in question was related to wine protected by the PDO “Port”.

It claimed the sign would lead to the exploitation of the worldwide fame and reputation of the Portuguese wine.

“The contested sign aims to benefit from the image of quality and tradition of the good protected by the PDO,” the IVDP said.

The Porterhouse group, which applied in 2019 to register “The Port House” as a trademark, argued that the word “port” had several meanings including its most common understanding as a place where ships could take shelter from storms or where cargo from ships was unloaded.

It said such a meaning prevented the public from thinking of the Portuguese wine, and its proposed trademark was incapable of exploiting the reputation of Port wines.

Guarantee of quality

However, EUIPO said it was clear that EU regulations recognised “Port” under its protected designation of origin list and its protected geographical indication list, which offer a guarantee of quality due to their geographical provenance.

It also observed that the word “porthouse” was the name given to a facility where Port was produced.

EUIPO said the fact that the Irish company wanted to register a two-word mark “Port House” does not prevent the public from associating it with the meaning of “porthouse”.

It ruled that the contested sign would be perceived by some consumers as a reference to an establishment where Port was either manufactured, sold or served.

EUIPO agreed with the IVDP that the use of “The Port House” sign would allow the Porterhouse group to take undue advantage of and exploit the exceptional reputation enjoyed by the Portuguese wine among European consumers.

The Porterhouse group operates four tapas bars under The Port House brand in Dublin – South William Street, Temple Bar, Camden Street and Dundrum – as well as a branch on The Strand in London.

Mr Hughes said the group hopes to reopen all its outlets in Dublin soon as all its branches have outdoor dining facilities.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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