Uncertain road ahead for quality signs in Germany

By Richard Dissmann and Sarah Somboonvong

The ECJ has clarified that individual marks must be used as indicators of origin in order for their use to qualify as genuine. The decision throws up several issues related to quality signs, most notably in Germany, where certification marks are not recognised

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has issued a decision concerning the genuine use of individual trademarks used as so-called ‘quality signs’ (ie, signs which indicate a certain quality in a product). The decision – which held that such marks must also be used as indicators of origin in order for use to be genuine – provides much-needed clarity for rights holders whose quality signs are protected as individual trademarks for certain goods or services, rather than registered as certification marks, especially since some jurisdictions (including Germany) do not recognise certification marks.

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Issue 72