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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.

14 March 2003

WINNETOU mark not distinctive, rules court

The Federal Supreme Court has upheld the part-cancellation of the German registered trademark WINNETOU so that it no longer covers film production or publication and editing of books, magazines and printed matter. The court held that the mark was not sufficiently distinctive and therefore could not identify the origin of these services.

20 February 2003

Acronyms DKV and OKV are not confusing, rules court

The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the marks DKV and OKV, both registered in relation to insurance companies, are not confusingly similar. This is the first time the court has ruled on the likelihood of confusion between acronyms used as trademarks since they became protectable under German law in 1995.

30 January 2003

German trademark law does not protect '@' symbol

The Federal Patent Court has held that a term containing the '@' symbol along with descriptive elements cannot be registered as a trademark under the German Trademark Act as it lacks distinctiveness.