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18 January 2005

Henkel's bottle shape mark is distinctive, rules CFI

In Henkel KgaA v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has overturned an earlier decision refusing the registration of the three-dimensional shape of a bottle for cleaning products. The court held that the packaging had the minimum level of distinctiveness required as it possessed certain characteristic elements that distinguished it from other products on the market.

16 December 2004

OHIM's new examination practice may lead to more uncertainty

In response to complaints about delays in trademark registration, the OHIM is now providing applicants with non-binding opinions on the registrability of trademarks following formal - rather than substantial - examination. However, the OHIM now reserves the right to re-examine applications for absolute grounds of refusal at any time. This may lead to even more uncertainty as to the status of applications than was the case under the previous practice.

14 December 2004

Frischpack cheesed off following packaging mark refusal

In Frischpack GmbH & Co KG v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has upheld a decision to refuse the registration of a three-dimensional Community trademark consisting of packaging for sliced cheese. The court agreed that the mark lacked distinctive character from the perspective of the average consumer.

09 December 2004

Board should have considered distinctiveness evidence, rules CFI

In Kaul GmbH v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has overturned the OHIM's decision to dismiss the plaintiff's opposition to the registration of an ARCOL mark. The court held that the OHIM had given insufficient weight to the plaintiff's evidence highlighting the high level of distinctiveness of its CAPOL mark for identical goods.

07 December 2004

All prior rights need not be considered in opposition actions, CFI rules

In MGM v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has ruled that MGM had not been adversely affected by the OHIM's decision to refuse to consider some prior national trademark rights submitted as evidence in MGM's successful opposition action. The court held, among other things, that the OHIM is under no obligation to consider all the rights that form the basis of an opposition if others are sufficient to uphold the action.

02 December 2004

ECJ outlines the principles for registrability of advertising slogans

The ECJ has held that the slogan 'das Prinzip der Bequemlichkeit' ('the principle of comfort') does not lack distinctiveness for goods in Classes 8 and 12 of the Nice Classification, which include furniture. Interestingly, the ECJ stated that the Court of First Instance had misinterpreted the Community Trademark Regulation but held that the operative part of the judgment remained justified on other legal grounds.

30 November 2004

HUBERT opposition turns sour for dairy product manufacturer

In Vedial SA v OHIM, the European Court of Justice has upheld a decision dismissing the plaintiff's opposition to the registration of HUBERT for, among other things, milk and milk products. It concluded that there was no likelihood of confusion with the plaintiff's earlier SAINT-HUBERT 41 mark for similar goods.

29 November 2004

No ray of light for torch shape mark applications

In Mag Instrument Inc v OHIM, the ECJ has upheld the OHIM's decision to refuse the registration of a series of three-dimensional signs representing shapes of torches as Community trademarks. It agreed that the shapes were devoid of any distinctive character as they were simply variants of a common torch shape.

26 November 2004

Libertel principles cultivated in seeds colour mark case

In KWS Saat AG v OHIM, the European Court of Justice has applied the approach to colour mark registrations taken in the Libertel decision to an application to register the colour orange as a Community trademark. It upheld the earlier finding that the mark was devoid of any distinctive character.

25 November 2004

Genuine use requires actual proof, CFI confirms

In Vitakraft-Werke Wührmann & Sohn GmbH & Co KG v OHIM, the Court of First Instance has ruled that the OHIM Board of Appeal erred in accepting evidence in the form of catalogues as proof of trademark use. The court confirmed that it is not sufficient for genuine use to appear probable or credible - actual proof of use must be given.

19 November 2004

Nestlé's oppositions to Mars's shape marks go down the tube

The OHIM Board of Appeal has dismissed Nestlé's oppositions to Mars's applications to register three-dimensional tube shape marks for its M&M's Minis product. The board found that Mars's marks did not create a likelihood of confusion and did not take unfair advantage of or cause detriment to the distinctive character or repute of Nestlé's tube shape marks.

16 November 2004

EU Constitution will have an impact on trademark law

The EU Constitution, which was agreed on June 18 2004 and formally signed on October 29 2004, will have an impact on trademark law in the European Union as it sets out how IP laws will be adopted. If ratified by the member states, the Constitution will come into effect on November 1 2006.

09 November 2004

APPLIED MOLECULAR EVOLUTION registration refused

In Applied Molecular Evolution Inc v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has upheld a decision to refuse the registration of APPLIED MOLECULAR EVOLUTION as a Community trademark for services related to molecular engineering of compounds. It held that the mark was descriptive of the services covered by the application.

02 November 2004

NL clothing marks hung out to dry

In New Look Ltd v OHIM, the European Court of First Instance has upheld a decision to refuse the registration of NLSPORT, NLJEANS, NLACTIVE and NLCOLLECTIONS as Community trademarks for clothing. It held that the marks were likely to cause confusion with the earlier Community trademark NL registered for the same type of goods.

29 October 2004

SAT.2 not descriptive under Article 7(1)(b), ECJ rules

The ECJ has allowed the registration of SAT.2 as a Community trademark. It ruled that even though (i) the elements making up the SAT.2 mark are descriptive and commonly used in relation to the services for which registration was sought, and (ii) their combination does not reflect a high degree of inventiveness, this does not mean that the mark as a whole lacks distinctiveness.