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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.

24 March 2009

No infringement of Tuc cracker mark, says court - again

The Cologne Appeal Court has considered for the second time whether use of a rectangular perforated shape for salty crackers amounted to infringement of a figurative trademark consisting of the shape of Tuc crackers. Among other things, the court held that the dominant and distinctive elements of the signs at issue were dissimilar.

03 March 2009

German practitioners struggle with “Nazi” trademark

Practitioners in Germany are grappling with the decision of the German Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark HARDCORE after it received “numerous queries” over the potential neo-Nazi use of the mark.

23 January 2009

Confusion likely over landmark German keywords decisions

The German Federal Supreme Court has referred a fundamental question to the ECJ in its eagerly awaited decisions on three landmark Google AdWords cases.

20 January 2009

No likelihood of association between comedian and video game

The Munich Regional Court I has dismissed an action filed by German comedian and director Michael 'Bully' Herbig against the German subsidiary of a computer game company with regard to the release of a video game called Bully - Die Ehrenrunde. Among other things, the court held that there was no likelihood of association between Herbig and the video game at issue.