Brakes put on QUICK registration for fast food

European Union

In Quick Restaurants SA v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), the European Court of First Instance has upheld an OHIM decision to reject the registration of QUICK for fast food.

Quick Restaurants, which owns a chain of fast food restaurants in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, applied to register the figurative mark QUICK as a Community trademark for a wide range of foodstuffs and drinks in Classes 29, 30, 31 and 32 of the Nice Classification.

An examiner at the OHIM refused the application in full and the OHIM's Second Board of Appeal partially upheld this ruling. The board confirmed the examiner's decision to refuse registration, but only for "coffee, tea, cocoa and artificial coffee" and "food, dishes and prepared meals in Classes 29, 30 and 31". The board reasoned that the mark QUICK, when used in connection with those types of goods, would within the mind of an English-speaking consumer immediately create the idea of products that can be prepared and served rapidly. The mark was therefore devoid of any distinctive character.

However, the board did allow the registration of QUICK for other products in Classes 29 to 31, such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, biscuits, ices, sauces and agricultural products, and for beverages in Class 32.

Quick appealed to the Court of First Instance, arguing that its trademark was evocative and capable of distinguishing all the goods covered by its application and, particularly, prepared meals.

The court, however, rejected the appeal. It held that for the average, reasonably well-informed and reasonably observant and circumspect anglophone consumer, there was a direct and concrete link between the QUICK mark and the goods it was supposed to distinguish. The court also confirmed the OHIM's view that QUICK consisted exclusively of an indication that may serve, in trade, to designate an important quality of the goods concerned, that is, the rapidity with which these goods can be prepared or served.

The court thus upheld the OHIM's decision to partially refuse registration, thereby depriving Quick from obtaining protection for the goods that constitute its core business, namely fast food.

As a critical note, one could ask why the OHIM and Court of First Instance decided to refuse registration for coffee, tea, cocoa, artificial coffee and prepared meals, while accepting registration for other goods that are usually served prepared, such as meat or fish.

Michel Draps, Altius, Brussels

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