'Real People, Real Solutions' not registrable

European Union

The European Court of First Instance has upheld an Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) Board of Appeal's decision refusing to register the slogan 'Real People, Real Solutions' as a Community trademark. The court reasoned that while slogans can indicate trade origin and therefore operate as trademarks, the words in this slogan indicate to the public that the applicant's services consist of providing pragmatic solutions devised by and for real people. There is nothing about the slogan beyond its promotional meaning to enable the public to consider the slogan as an indication as to the commercial origin of the services.

The OHIM's decision, affirmed by the Court of First Instance, is at odds with the registration authorities in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States where REAL PEOPLE, REAL SOLUTIONS is a registered mark. In fact, the OHIM's decision may even be at odds with its own decisions. For example, the OHIM has considered similar slogans such as 'Real People, Real Solutions, Real Estate' and 'People and Solutions' and 'Mobile Solutions for Mobile People' as inherently registrable.

Until such time as further regulation is drafted to clarify this issue, the registration of slogans as Community trademarks will remain unpredictable.

Carsten Albrecht, Lovells, Hamburg

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