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01 October 2004

Community marks now stepping stones to international protection

The link between the Community trademark and the Madrid Protocol is effective as of today. This means that applicants in countries party to the protocol can designate the entire European Union for protection with an international application. Similarly, if an applicant files a Community trademark, it will have six months to file an international application to designate other states within the Madrid system with the same priority date.

28 September 2004

Light turned out on LIMO application for lasers

In Lissotschenko v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has upheld a refusal to register LIMO as a Community trademark for lasers for medical and other purposes. The court stated that the mark was descriptive as it could be viewed by the relevant public as an abbreviation for the phrase 'laser intensity modulation'.

27 September 2004

Commission to move on controversial repairs clause?

The European Commission has at last published its proposed changes to the controversial "repairs clause" in the Community Designs Directive. Under the commission's proposal, the directive would be amended to remove the member states' option to maintain design protection for automobile spare parts. Automobile spare parts manufacturers had accused the commission of dragging its heels over its decision to liberalize completely the EU spare parts market.

24 September 2004

OHIM breached rules in HIPOVITON opposition

In MFE Marienfelde GmbH v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Court of First Instance has annulled a Board of Appeal decision to refuse an opposition to the registration of HIPOVITON as a Community trademark. The court found that the board had (i) not taken into consideration all the relevant facts, and (ii) breached the opponent's right to be heard.

09 September 2004

ENIT marks can coexist as they apply to dissimilar goods and services

The OHIM Opposition Division has rejected an opposition filed by A-Invest SA - the owner of the Spanish word mark ENIT - against a figurative ENIT mark. It held that although some of the products covered by the two marks had the similar aim of improving health, the actual goods were dissimilar. Thus, it did not need to examine whether the marks were confusingly similar.

06 September 2004

CHUFI mark owner not chuffed with CFI decision

In Grupo El Prado Cervera SL v OHIM, the CFI has upheld a decision to dismiss the plaintiff's opposition to the registration of CHUFAFIT as a Community trademark. The court held that it was not confusingly similar to the plaintiff's CHUFI mark but noted that if the plaintiff had asserted that its mark was renowned - an argument abandoned earlier in the hearing - the outcome may have been different.

30 July 2004

No confusion between GALA and GALÁXIA for coffee

In Koffiebranderij en Theehandel 'Drie Mollen sinds 1818'BV v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has dismissed the plaintiff's opposition to the registration of GALÁXIA as a Community trademark for coffee. It held that there was no likelihood of confusion with the plaintiff's GALA mark, despite the fact that both marks covered the same type of goods.

27 July 2004

OHIM cancels first Community design registrations

The OHIM has issued its first decisions regarding challenges made against registered Community designs, for which it started accepting registrations in January 2003. It had only published guidelines for such proceedings the day before it issued its first decision.

20 July 2004

EU-Madrid Protocol link to operate from October 1

The European Union has deposited its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol with the World Intellectual Property Organization. The EU accession, which will be effective on October 1 2004, will establish the long-awaited link between the Madrid system of international trademark registration and the Community trademark system.

16 July 2004

PICASSO mark owner fails in opposition to PICARO

The European Court of First Instance has rejected an opposition brought by the family of Pablo Picasso against the registration of the Community trademark PICARO for motor vehicles and their parts, in spite of the family’s earlier PICASSO mark for the same goods. Strangely, the court did not seem to feel that the mark merited the increased protection normally afforded to well-known or even renowned trademarks.

15 July 2004

OHIM blocks registration of KAZAA

In SpeedWare Software GmbH v Sharman License Holdings Limited, the Opposition Division of the OHIM has upheld an opposition to the registration of KAZAA as a Community trademark. It ruled that the mark was phonetically similar in German and covered similar goods and services to an earlier CASA mark.

13 July 2004

ECJ confirms Libertel principles for colour combinations

The ECJ has confirmed that the principles established in Libertel with regards to the registration of a colour as a trademark also apply to colour combinations. The ECJ held that a colour combination may constitute a trademark as long as (i) it is effectively presented as a sign, and (ii) the trademark application provides a systematic structure representing the colours in a predetermined and constant way.

07 July 2004

ECJ pours cold water on dishwasher tablet shape marks

In Henkel KGaA v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the ECJ has refused to register as Community trademarks the three-dimensional shapes of two dishwasher tablets because they were devoid of any distinctive character pursuant to Article 7(1)(b) of the Community Trademark Regulation.

30 June 2004

ECJ rules on who decides when a mark becomes generic

In a case referred by the Swedish Court of Appeal, the ECJ has ruled that in determining whether a mark has become generic, the opinion of consumers and, depending on the features of the market concerned, all those in the trade who deal with the product commercially will be relevant. The court did not specify, however, in what circumstances the opinions of traders should not be considered.

24 June 2004

Mark owners should reconsider strategies following EU enlargement

Trademark owners are advised to reconsider the management of their portfolio following the accession to the European Union of 10 new member states last month. The enlargement means that mark owners must for instance extend their searches prior to filing a Community trademark and consider the new official languages of the European Union when creating a mark. They may want to consider other filing systems.