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29 October 2010

Common element in composite mark held not to have independent distinctive role

The German Federal Supreme Court has overturned a decision of the Stuttgart Regional Court, holding that there was no likelihood of confusion between the mark MIXI and the composite mark KOHLERMIXI. The Supreme Court held that the common element 'mixi' could not give rise to a likelihood of confusion, as it did not have an independent distinctive role in the composite mark.

30 July 2010

Chocolate bunny case sent back to lower court - again

In the long-running dispute between Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG and its competitor Riegelein, the Bundesgerichtshof has overturned a decision of the Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt in which the latter had found that there was no likelihood of confusion between Lindt's 3D bunny mark and Riegelein's chocolate bunny.

30 April 2010

3D mark for chocolate held to have been infringed

The German Federal Supreme Court has refused to rehear a case and affirmed a decision of the Hamburg Court of Appeals finding that a three-dimensional trademark for chocolate had been infringed. The German courts are usually reluctant to find infringement of three-dimensional marks, but this decision seems to follow a different approach.

16 April 2010

Concept of 'neutralization' rejected

In a case involving the marks XXERO and ZERO, the German Federal Patent Court has held that the European concept of 'neutralization' does not apply in Germany. Pursuant to this concept, visual and conceptual differences between two marks may counteract their phonetic similarities (and vice versa).

18 February 2010

SMARTBOOK signals warning for "descriptive" tech terms

Chinese computer giant Lenovo has been ordered to stop using the term SMARTBOOK to describe its laptop computers in Germany. The dispute has reopened the debate over the speed with which terms for products and services can become descriptive online.

12 January 2010

Misleading use of ® symbol clarified

In a case involving the sign THERMOROLL®, the German Federal Supreme Court has held that use of a trademark in conjunction with the ® symbol by a party who is not the owner or licensee of the mark, or is not otherwise authorized to use the mark, is “significantly misleading” and constitutes an unfair commercial practice under Section 5 of the Unfair Competition Act.

27 October 2009

Restrictions on online sales may be lawful, says court

The Munich Appeal Court has ruled that brand owners may prohibit distributors from selling trademarked goods on online auction platforms. Among other things, the court concluded that such limitation was exempted from the general prohibition of restriction of competition under the EU Block Exemption Regulation.

22 October 2009

Supreme Court clarifies bad-faith test

In three cancellation actions involving trademark applications filed by a company specializing in trademark licensing, the German Federal Supreme Court has clarified the circumstances in which an application will be found to have been filed in bad faith under Section 8(2)(10) of the Trademark Act.

18 September 2009

Supreme Court cancels Lego's 3D mark

The German Federal Supreme Court has affirmed decisions of the Federal Patent Court in which the latter had ordered that Lego Group's three-dimensional trademark for its toy brick be cancelled. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's finding that the shape of the Lego brick was functional under Section 3(2)(2) of the Trademark Act.

01 September 2009

SMARTBOOK trademark kicks off fresh tech term dispute

German company Smartbook AG has obtained a restraining order against Qualcomm Inc for the latter's use of the word SMARTBOOK. The case is somewhat similar to the NETBOOK dispute between Canadian company Psion and Dell, Intel and a coalition of tech companies and bloggers.

01 September 2009

Protection criteria for colour combinations clarified

In a case involving competing glue products both sold in yellow and black packaging, the German Federal Supreme Court has clarified the conditions in which a colour combination may claim trademark protection on the grounds that it has acquired secondary meaning through use under Section 4(2) of the Trademark Act.

24 July 2009

New grounds of opposition introduced

The German Parliament has amended various provisions of the Trademark Act. Among other things, it will be possible to oppose an application based on rights in a company name or an unregistered trademark which has acquired distinctive character through use. The new provisions will come into effect later this summer.

06 July 2009

Commerzbank is allowed to use DAX mark, says Supreme Court

The German Federal Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Commerzbank in a dispute over the use of the trademark DAX. Among other things, the court held that use of the abbreviation 'DAX' as a reference did not take unfair advantage of the reputation of the DAX mark and, therefore, did not violate Section 4(9)(b) of the Act against Unfair Competition.

13 May 2009

Münchner Weißwurst may come from outside Munich, says court

The German Federal Patent Court has refused to grant protection to the term 'Münchner Weißwurst' (German for 'Munich white sausage') as a geographical indication and designation of origin for sausages. The court concluded that while Original Münchner Weißwurst may be produced only in Munich, Münchner Weißwurst can be produced elsewhere.

07 April 2009

Use of METROBUS for public transport does not infringe METRO mark

The Federal Supreme Court has held that use of the mark METROBUS by the public transport companies of the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich did not infringe the registered trademark METRO. Among other things, the court stated that the relevant public would not associate the METROBUS mark for public transport services with the Metro Group.