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13 June 2006

Door closed to SmartKey name dispute

The German Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the name KOBIL Smart Key was not likely to cause confusion with the name SmartKey. The court first pointed out that while both names were used for types of computer software, the similarity of goods was limited because the two programs were quite different from each other. Furthermore, the names were only slightly similar because one name was dominated by the distinctive word 'KOBIL'.

02 June 2006

FIFA faces defeat in world cup mark case

The German Supreme Court has revoked FIFA's trademark FUßBALL WM 2006 ('Fußball' means 'football' and 'WM' stands for 'Weltmeisterschaft' - that is, 'world championship'). Its rights in the separate WM 2006 mark remain in the balance following the court's decision to remit the ruling on that mark back to the German Federal Patent Court, which initially had found both marks partially invalid.

23 March 2006

FIFA scores before German civil court

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association has won two decisions before the Hamburg District Court over the rights to use trademarks connected to the soccer world championship to be held in Germany in June. The decisions are part of a wider legal dispute opposing FIFA and confectionery manufacturer Ferrero, which challenges FIFA's exclusive right to exploit the marketing of the World Cup.

05 December 2005

COCCODRILLO mark not confusingly similar to Lacoste device

In a decision involving Lacoste's device mark, the German Supreme Court has clarified the requirements of likelihood of confusion between marks consisting of a word and device element. In the case at hand, the court held that the fact that (i) the devices are dissimilar, and (ii) the allegedly infringing mark is dominated by the word element meant that no likelihood of confusion could be found.

15 November 2005

Use of magenta in advertising does not infringe colour mark

In Deutsche Telekom AG v Marquard Media AG, the panel for commercial matters of the Regional Court of Frankfurt has reversed a decision of the court's civil division prohibiting a magazine publisher from using the colour magenta in its advertisements. The panel for commercial matters held that the use of the colour was not trademark use since it was not an indication of the source of the relevant goods and/or services.

04 November 2005

FIFA's German 2006 world cup marks partially cancelled

The German Federal Patent Court has cancelled the Fédération Internationale de Football Association's registrations for FUSSBALL WM 2006 and WM 2006 for goods and services directly relating to the organization of sporting events on the grounds that they were descriptive and lacked distinctiveness ('Fussball' means 'football' and WM stands for Weltmeisterschaft, which means 'world championship'). The registrations were maintained for merchandising.

15 July 2005

Satirical and artistic uses of a mark are protected

The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that satirical and artistic uses of a trademark are protected by the constitutional freedom of arts. Applying this principle to the case before it, the court held that use of the name Milka on a lilac-coloured postcard, similar to the lilac used by Kraft Foods in conjunction with its well-known MILKA mark, was not unfair use.

16 March 2005

adidas strips competitors of two-stripe designs

In two separate cases, a local civil court in Cologne has upheld adidas-Salomon AG's requests for injunctions preventing Nike Inc and a clothing company called Tom Tailor from using two-stripe designs on their apparel. It concluded that the two-stripe designs infringed adidas's famous three-stripe mark.

22 November 2004

Green light given to use of yellow for business directory services

The Regional Court of Frankfurt has lifted injunctions imposed on the operator of the domain name 'GoYellow.com', which prevented it from using the colour yellow as a mark for its online business directory services. The injunctions had been imposed to protect the unregistered colour mark rights of a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom but the court held that this company only had rights in one particular shade of yellow.

29 July 2004

Design protection given broader scope under new law

A new law implementing the EU Design Directive has come into force, completing the modernization of German design law. The law aims to simplify the protection of designs in Germany - since the directive was passed, separate EU-wide design rights have been introduced, resulting in a complex protection system made up of both national and EU law.

18 June 2004

Online auction site is found liable for sale of fake Rolex watches

The Federal Supreme Court has decided that the host of an auction website could be held liable for trademark infringements resulting from the sale of fake Rolex watches by third parties. The case has been remanded to the Court of Appeal, which must now ascertain whether the defendant had the opportunity to prevent trademark infringements of this kind.

05 February 2004

Bundestag approves new German Design Act

The Bundestag has adopted a bill aimed at reforming the German Design Act to comply with the Community Design Directive. Provided that the Bundesrat does not delay its vote, the new act should come into force in the spring, more than two years after the deadline set by the directive.

25 November 2003

Use requirement clarified by Federal Supreme Court

The Federal Supreme Court has issued a decision that clarifies the degree of use required by a trademark owner in order to avoid the cancellation of a mark on the grounds of non-use. It held that (i) a mark owner must demonstrate normal business use of the mark, and (ii) other factors, such as the mark owner's level of activity in other markets in comparison to the German market, may be significant.

20 June 2003

Appeals court must reconsider identical marks case

The German Supreme Court has reversed a lower court ruling that the use of BIG BERTHA in relation to clothing associated with golf does not infringe or dilute the same mark for golf clubs and bags. The court remanded the case for the lower court to consider all the circumstances in accordance with the ECJ's case law on identical marks.

17 April 2003

Supreme Court precedent rejected in MOBILIX Case

In Les Editions Albert René v Hauser, the Munich Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court decision, finding that the marks OBELIX and MOBILIX are confusingly similar. Refusing to apply a Supreme Court ruling, the appellate court found that it is the phonetic similarity of the marks, rather than their meaning, that created the likelihood of confusion.