3D mark for Zippo lighters held to be distinctive

The Beijing First Intermediate People's Court has issued its judgment in an appeal brought by Zippo Manufacturing Company against a decision of the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB).
Zippo, which was founded in 1932, manufactures windproof and multi-purpose lighters, as well as pocket knives, key holders, money clips, writing instruments and tape measurers.
In December 2001 Zippo filed an application for the registration of the shape of its cigarette lighters as a three-dimensional mark in Class 34 of the Nice Classification. The Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce rejected the application in August 2002. Zippo applied to the TRAB for a review of the decision.
In June 2007 the TRAB upheld the decision of the Trademark Office, holding that Zippo’s three-dimensional mark was devoid of distinctive character. Zippo filed suit against the TRAB before the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court.
The court held that although the shape of Zippo’s cigarette lighters is common for this type of goods, several features distinguish Zippo’s lighters from those of other manufacturers and thus serve as an indication of origin. The court concluded that the mark is distinctive and should be protected.  
Consequently, the court ordered that the TRAB repeal its decision.
Jin Ling, Rouse & Co International, Shanghai

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