EUROLITAS held to be distinctive

The Board of Appeal of the State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania has overturned a decision of the expert examiner in which the latter had refused to register the trademark EUROLITAS (Case 2Ap-1059, June 13 2008).
Eurovaistine UAB applied to the State Patent Bureau for the registration of the mark EUROLITAS (Application 2006 2224) for services in Classes 35 and 44 of the Nice Classification. The mark consisted of the compound word ‘eurolitas’ on a black background.
The examiner refused registration on the grounds that the mark EUROLITAS was devoid of distinctive character and had not acquired distinctiveness through use. In particular, the expert found that the mark was composed of two descriptive words - ‘euro’ (relating to the idea of Europe and European Union) and ‘litas’ (the currency of Lithuania).
Eurovaistine appealed, arguing that the mark EUROLITAS:
  • was distinctive;
  • was known in Lithuania and associated with Eurovaistine in the mind of Lithuanian consumers; and
  • had thus acquired distinctiveness through  use.
Eurovaistine stated that although the mark EUROLITAS was composed of two descriptive words, the mark should have been examined as a whole.
The Board of Appeal noted that, even if the individual elements ‘euro’ and ‘litas’ were devoid of distinctive character, this did not mean that the combination of these two words could not be distinctive.
The board also emphasized that the distinctiveness of the mark should have been analyzed in respect of the services covered by the application. In addition, the expert should have taken into account the overall perception of the mark by the relevant public.
The board indicated that the application did not cover financial services and the mark was not descriptive of, or directly associated with, the services applied for. The board held that the word ‘eurolitas’ could not be compared with the word ‘eurodollars’ (deposits denominated in US dollars at banks outside the United States), since the mark EUROLITAS was not to be applied to financial services. However, the board pointed out that the mark EUROLITAS would be descriptive of financial services.  
Finally, the board held that EUROLITAS could perform the essential function of a trademark as an indication of origin. Therefore, the mark was not devoid of distinctive character.
Since the mark was held to be distinctive for the services at issue, the board did not consider whether the mark had acquired distinctiveness through use. Accordingly, the board allowed the registration of the mark EUROLITAS.
Evelina Serelyte, Law Firm AAA Baltic Service Company, Vilnius

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