PORT LOUIS registrable for textiles, says CFI
In Rewe-Zentral AG v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) (Case T-230/06, October 15 2008), the Court of First Instance (CFI) has held that the trademark PORT LOUIS could be registered, despite the fact that Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius.
- indicated the geographical origin of the goods in question under Article 7(1)(c) of the Community Trademark Regulation (40/94); and
- lacked distinctiveness under Article 7(1)(b).
- the city of Port Louis is unknown (even if the relevant public knows the island of Mauritius); and
- the relevant public was unlikely to establish a link between the textile industry and Port Louis.
- the geographical location is not well known; and
- the mark is not recognized as a geographical location in relation to the relevant goods and/or services.
- The current economic relations between Mauritius, the United Kingdom and France, and the fact that most exports from Mauritius are intended for the United Kingdom and France, were insufficient to prove that Port Louis is known as a geographical location in the United Kingdom and in France;
- The fact that Mauritius was a colony of the United Kingdom and France was insufficient to prove that Port Louis is known as the capital of Mauritius; and
- The fact that Port Louis is the economic centre of Mauritius did not imply that consumers recognized Port Louis as a geographical location.
The CFI also held that the board had failed to prove that Port Louis was well known for its textile industry. The court held as follows:
- The fact that certain textile manufacturers started their business in Port Louis did not imply that the relevant public would establish a connection between Port Louis and the textile industry;
- The fact that most economic activities in Mauritius are concentrated in Port Louis did not imply that Port Louis is well known for its textile industry; and
- Although the textile industry is a significant source of income for Mauritius, the sugar industry is the most important industry of the island.
- The fact that tourism in Mauritius has increased in the past years did not imply that the textile industry would increase in Port Louis.
- The fact that 40% of tourists in Mauritius come from France gave no indication on the number of visitors to the capital.
- The fact that Port Louis is the largest city on the island gave no indication on the importance of the textile industry in Port Louis.
- The board's affirmation that the textile industry in Mauritius could grow in the future was only a hypothetical statement. There was no indication that the textile industry would continue to grow or that such growth could lead the public to establish a link between Port Louis and the textile industry.
- The board's statement that the substantial growth of the textile industry in Africa and Asia could have an impact on the industry in Mauritius was too general.
- The fact that certain designer clothes are produced in Mauritius was insufficient to prove that the relevant public would establish a link between Port Louis and the textile industry.
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