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05 December 2006

Masterfoods gets double victory in unfair competition actions

The Cologne Regional Court has issued two decisions in favour of Masterfoods GmbH restraining the sale of pet foods in cans that were look-alikes of the packaging used by Masterfoods for its Kitekat and Cesar products. German law provides remedies against the use of look-alike products under the German Unfair Competition Act.

01 December 2006

World's largest haul of counterfeit goods seized

German customs authorities in Hamburg have seized what could be the world's largest haul of counterfeit merchandise, amounting to 117 shipping containers of products. Among the goods seized were nearly 950,000 pairs of fake Nike sports shoes and over 76,000 counterfeit watches.

27 November 2006

ERDINGER beer mark not infringed by local newspaper title

The Munich Regional Court has dismissed Brauerei Erdinger Weißbräu's request for an injunction preventing the use of the name Erdinger SZ as the title of a local newspaper. It held that there was no likelihood of confusion between the title and an ERDINGER mark for beer as, among other things, the public would understand the name Erdinger as a geographic designation for the town Erding, which is the area of distribution of the newspaper.

24 October 2006

THOMSON LIFE decision approved by Federal Supreme Court

The German Federal Supreme Court has issued a decision in which it expressly applied the THOMSON LIFE doctrine of the ECJ. In a shift away from the traditional approach to device marks of German jurisprudence, the Federal Supreme Court stated that it is no longer necessary for a device element to dominate the overall impression of a mark for infringement by a similar device to occur.

21 June 2006

Porsche 3-D marks steered successfully on to the register

The German Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the shapes of the Porsche 911 and 996 sports cars as well as the Porsche Boxster are registrable as three-dimensional marks for motor vehicles because the appearance of all three cars had acquired distinctiveness through use. The court also noted that the shape of new models of established car manufacturers may acquire distinctiveness through use within a short time after launch.

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 '', 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.