Bottle blow: EU court rejects Coca-Cola bottle-shape trademark

The European General Court has ruled that the shape of Coca-Cola’s ‘contour bottle without fluting’ is devoid of distinctive character and does not qualify for registration as an EU trademark (previously known as a Community trademark).

The Coca-Cola Company originally filed an application for registration of an EU trademark for its plastic, glass and metallic bottle design in December 2011. It is specifically for the “shape of a contour bottle without fluting”, and Coca-Cola argued that the relevant public would associate this iteration with its famous iconic bottle. However, the application was rejected.

Coca-Cola appealed, and on March 27 2014 the Second Board of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the grounds that, in relation to the goods at issue, the mark applied for was devoid of distinctive character within the meaning of Article 7(1)(b) and Article 7(3) of Regulation 207/2009.

Two years later, in February 2016 in The Coca-Cola Company v OHIM (Case T 411/14), the General Court ruled on the application. It addressed two pleas in law that Coca-Cola subsequently raised, both relating to demonstrating distinctiveness and alleged infringement within the two articles of Regulation 207/2009. In agreeing with the Board of Appeal throughout the ruling, the General Court thus dismissed the action in its entirety.

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