PRIMAPACK held to be distinctive


The Metropolitan Court of Budapest has approved (Case 1.Pk.23250/2001/6) an application for the registration in Hungary of the trademark PRIMAPACK. The court overturned a Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) decision and held that the mark is sufficiently distinctive to justify registration.

Melitta Haushaltsprodukte GmbH & Co Kommanditgesellshaft, a German company, applied to the PTO for the registration of its international trademark PRIMAPACK in Hungary in relation to, among other things, plastic and paper packaging material. The PTO provisionally dismissed the application on the grounds that the mark was not distinctive, particularly as the application covered packaging materials. However, it requested further submissions from Melitta. Melitta argued that PRIMAPACK is distinctive, stating that:

  • the trademark is an invented word;

  • the word 'pack' which forms part of the mark is not necessarily associated with the English terms 'package', 'packing', 'wrapping' or 'pack material'; and

  • word compounds should be examined as a whole, not divided up into their component parts.

The PTO rejected these arguments. Melitta then appealed to the Metropolitan Court of Budapest.

The court overturned the PTO's decision, holding that the PRIMAPACK mark is sufficiently distinctive to allow registration. The court stated that, pursuant to the Hungarian Trademark Act, a mark may not be registered if it exclusively designates the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or time of production of the relevant goods or services. The court reasoned that 'exclusively' means that there must be an essential connection between the mark and the type, quality or purpose of the goods, which excludes any other connection. The court found that there is no exclusive connection between PRIMAPACK and the type of goods (specifically packaging materials) manufactured by Melitta.

It also stated that, although the mark differs from the English words 'package', 'packaging' and 'packing', it is based on the German word 'pack' meaning 'pack, bunch or bundle'. However, this connection is not obvious and does not mean that the mark lacks distinctiveness.

The court therefore allowed the registration.

Éva Szigeti, Danubia, Budapest

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