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31 July 2003

OHIM introduces electronic search for Community designs

The OHIM has introduced a search facility for Community designs, thus enabling applicants and practitioners to monitor their own and competitors' applications and registrations without resorting to reading the entire Community Design Bulletin. The search fields are, however, limited.

22 July 2003

European Union one step closer to amended trademark law

The European Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market has issued its report on the proposed changes to the Community Trademark Regulation, building on the Commission's proposal issued earlier this year. The text is expected to be approved by the EU Parliament in September.

07 July 2003

OHIM not in breach of principle of equal treatment

The European Court of First Instance has ruled that applications for Community trademark registration must be judged solely against the Community Trademark Regulation and not against the OHIM's previous decisions and practice. In so doing, the court rejected the argument that in refusing the applications at issue, the OHIM had breached the principle of equal treatment.

27 June 2003

Law on three-dimensional marks knocked into shape by ECJ

In three joined cases referred by the German Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice has ruled that, pursuant to the Community Trademark Directive, the assessment of the distinctive character of three-dimensional shape marks is not stricter than that used for other types of trademark but that shape marks must overcome a number of additional barriers to registration.

24 June 2003

Dishwasher tablets are devoid of distinctive character, rules CFI

In Unilever NV v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Court of First Instance has affirmed a Board of Appeal decision to reject the registration of a three-dimensional tablet form as a Community trademark for dishwasher detergent. The court found that the irregular ovoid shape lacks distinctive character.

13 June 2003

Durferrit fails to protect TUFFTRIDE mark

In Durferrit GmbH v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Court of First Instance has upheld the decision of the OHIM First Board of Appeal to reject Durferrit's opposition to the registration of Kolene Corporation's mark NU-TRIDE based on Durferrit's previously registered mark TUFFTRIDE.

12 June 2003

Board of Appeal must respect principle of fairness

The European Court of First Instance has ruled that the OHIM Board of Appeal may not base a decision on facts that were not considered by the Opposition Division without informing the plaintiff. This, ruled the court, would rob the plaintiff of a chance to respond and therefore breach the principle of fairness.

06 June 2003

Trademark regulation does not infringe 'equality of languages' principle

Advocate General Jacobs has ruled that Article 115 of the Community Trademark Regulation, requiring an applicant for a Community trademark to indicate English, French, German, Italian or Spanish as a second language, does not infringe the 'equality of languages' principle set out in Article 12 of the EC Treaty.

05 June 2003

France labelled as anti-competitive by ECJ

In European Commission v French Republic, the European Court of Justice has ruled that France's policy of offering national legal protection to geographical indications that are not covered by EU Council Regulation 2081/92 restricts imports between member states in breach of EU competition law.

03 June 2003

Retro radiator grille is registrable

In DaimlerChrysler Corporation v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Court of First Instance has reversed the decision of the OHIM Board of Appeal to reject the registration of the representation of a radiator grille. The court found that the retro style of the grille makes it sufficiently distinctive to warrant registration.

02 June 2003

Advocate general's opinion is music to Shield Mark's ears

Advocate General Colomer has given his opinion in Shield Mark BV v Joost Kist concerning the protection of sound marks. Colomer believes that Article 2 of the Community Trademark Directive prohibits member states from refusing to register sound marks that are distinctive and represented graphically using musical notation.

15 May 2003

Alcon's mark cancelled, despite attempts to protect distinctiveness

The European Court of First Instance has ordered the cancellation of Alcon Inc's Community trademark BSS. The court held that (i) BSS - an acronym for 'balanced salt solution' - has become customary in the current language or established practices of the ophthalmic industry, and (ii) Alcon had not proved that the term has acquired distinctiveness through use.

14 May 2003

The future of colour registration is orange

The European Court of Justice has issued a landmark decision in Libertel Groep BV v Benelux-MerkenBureau, ruling that a colour may be registered as a trademark if, among other things, (i) it has acquired distinctiveness, and (ii) its registration will not create an undue monopoly over a wide range of products or services.

08 May 2003

Karlsberg successfully opposes 'mystery' registration

The European Court of First Instance has ruled that the word 'mystery' may not be registered as a Community trademark in relation to non-alcoholic beverages. The court found that there was a likelihood of confusion with Karlsberg's MIXERY mark, even though MIXERY is not highly distinctive.

29 April 2003

ECJ to rule on registrability of retail services

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to rule on whether retail services may be registered as trademarks under the Community Trademark Directive and, if so, under what conditions. The ECJ's ruling is expected to provide much needed guidance to both national trademark offices and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.