Annual Review of EU Trademark Law - International

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Annual Review of EU Trademark Law - International

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Annual Review of EU Trademark Law
2016 in Review
Guy Heath—CMS London, United Kingdom with
Georg Jahn—Noerr LLP Munich, Germany
Jordi Güell—Curell Suñol Barcelona, Spain
Anne Marie Verschuur—NautaDutilh Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Pier Luigi Roncaglia—Studio Legale SIB Florence, Italy
Anne-Laure Villedieu—CMS Bureau Francis Lefebre Paris, France
Ivo Rungg—Binder Grösswang Vienna, Austria
Nina Ringen—Lundgrens Copenhagen, Denmark
Johan Norderyd—Lindahl Stockholm, Sweden
Tanguy de Haan—NautaDutilh Brussels, Belgium
Alistair Payne—Acuatus Solicitors Dublin, Ireland
Vincent Wellens—NautaDutilh Luxembourg
March–April, 2017

Vol. 107 No. 2

INTERNATIONAL TRADEMARK ASSOCIATION
Powerful Network Powerful Brands 655 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017-5646

Telephone: +1 (212) 642-1733

email: [email protected]

Facsimile: +1 (212) 768-7796

OFFICERS OF THE ASSOCIATION JOSEPH FERRETTI ................................................................................................................... President TISH L. BERARD ..............................................................................................................President Elect DAVID LOSSIGNOL ........................................................................................................... Vice President AYALA DEUTSCH ............................................................................................................. Vice President TIKI DARE ...............................................................................................................................Treasurer ZEEGER VINK .......................................................................................................................... Secretary MAURY M. TEPPER, III ............................................................................................................... Counsel ETIENNE SANZ DE ACEDO ................................................................................... Chief Executive Officer

The Trademark Reporter Committee

EDITORIAL BOARD

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, CHAIR

STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

KATHLEEN E. MCCARTHY

WILLARD KNOX

Senior Editors

NEIL WILKOF

JESSICA ELLIOTT CARDON

RUTH CORBIN

GLENN MITCHELL

ELISABETH KASZNAR FEKETE

RAFFI V. ZEROUNIAN

FABRIZIO MIAZZETTO

PAMELA CHESTEK

CHIKAKO MORI

Staff Editor

Staff Editor

BEVERLY HARRIS

JOEL L. BROMBERG

Editors

TSAN ABRAHAMSON MARIA BARATTA MARTIN J. BERAN DANIEL R. BERESKIN STEFANIA BERGIA LANNING BRYER SHELDON BURSHTEIN IRENE CALBOLI ROBERT CAMERON JANE F. COLLEN THEODORE H. DAVIS JR. ANNE DESMOUSSEAUX MEGHAN DILLON THOMAS F. DUNN SCOT DUVALL CLAUS M. ECKHARTT SHEJA EHTESHAM KAREN L. ELBURG MATTHEW EZELL NEMESIO FERNANDEZ-PACHECO SALVADOR FERRANDIS ALFRED FRAWLEY ALEX GARENS ALEXANDRA GEORGE DANIEL GLAZER ANDREW J. GRAY IV LESLEY MCCALL GROSSBERG

ANN LAMPORT HAMMITTE GUY HEATH ANNE HIARING HOCKING JANET L. HOFFMAN GANG HU DOMINIC HUI AHMAD HUSSEIN BRUCE ISAACSON AGLIKA IVANOVA E. DEBORAH JAY FENGTAO JIANG HE JING MARIA JOSE JIRON BENDANA SIEGRUN D. KANE SUSAN J. KERI MIKE KEYES ROLAND KUNZE JOI MICHELLE LAKES SCOTT LEBSON NELS LIPPERT MARCUS LUEPKE J. THOMAS MCCARTHY NANCY A. MILLER GEORGE W. MOXON JOHN M. MURPHY PAUL MUSSELL SADAF NAKHAEI

SAURABH NANDREKAR AMANDA NYE JENIFER DEWOLF PAINE JEREMY B. PENNANT NEAL PLATT MICHIEL RIJSDIJK RACHEL RUDENSKY JEREMY SCHACHTER MATTHEW R. SCHANTZ MARTIN SCHWIMMER JENNIFER SICKLER AARON SILVERSTEIN ALEX SIMONSON GIULIO ENRICO SIRONI WENDI E. SLOANE JERRE B. SWANN, JR. SCOTT THOMPSON CHINASA UWANNA ANJALI VALSANGKAR EDWARD E. VASSALLO MARTIN VIEFHUES CHARLES WEBSTER JORDAN WEINSTEIN JOHN L. WELCH JOSEPH WELCH BRYAN K. WHEELOCK JOSEPH YANG

MILES J. ALEXANDER WILLIAM M. BORCHARD CLIFFORD W. BROWNING LANNING G. BRYER SANDRA EDELMAN ANTHONY L. FLETCHER ARTHUR J. GREENBAUM

Advisory Board
ROBERT M. KUNSTADT THEODORE C. MAX JONATHAN MOSKIN VINCENT N. PALLADINO JOHN B. PEGRAM ALLAN S. PILSON

ROBERT L. RASKOPF PASQUALE A. RAZZANO SUSAN REISS PIER LUIGI RONCAGLIA HOWARD J. SHIRE JERRE B. SWANN, SR. STEVEN M. WEINBERG

The views expressed in The Trademark Reporter are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of INTA.
The Trademark Reporter (ISSN 0041-056X) is published electronically six times a year by the International Trademark Association, 655 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017-5646 USA. INTA, the INTA logo, INTERNATIONAL TRADEMARK ASSOCIATION, POWERFUL NETWORK POWERFUL BRANDS, THE TRADEMARK REPORTER, and inta.org are trademarks, service marks, and/or registered trademarks of the International Trademark Association in the United States and certain other jurisdictions.

The Trademark Reporter®
Copyright 2017, by the International Trademark Association All Rights Reserved

Vol. 107

March–April, 2017

No. 2

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ANNUAL REVIEW OF EU TRADEMARK LAW
2016 in Review
I. Introduction ......................................................................... 466 A. About this Review .......................................................... 466 B. Legislative Change and Terminology ............................ 466 C. Organization of Material in this Review ....................... 467
II. “Signs” Capable of Registration........................................... 468 A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 468 B. Legal Texts (Note: the quoted texts are pre-2016: See Introduction) .................................................................. 468 C. Cases .............................................................................. 469 1. United Kingdom—English High Court— What is the effect of a mismatch between the verbal and the visual identification of a trademark? ......... 469 2. United Kingdom—English High Court—Can a registration be considered to cover a series of marks, even when the mark was not registered as such at the outset? ............................................... 473 3. United Kingdom—English Court of Appeal— Validity—Is the registration of a “series” mark under UK law compatible with EU law? ................. 477

This issue of The Trademark Reporter (TMR) should be cited as 107 TMR ___ (2017).

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III. Absolute Grounds for Refusal of Registration, and for Cancellation, and Post-Registration Genericness............... 480
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 480
B. Legal Texts (Note: the quoted texts are pre-2016. See Introduction) .................................................................. 481
C. Cases .............................................................................. 483
1. EU—CJEU—Shape marks—May the EUIPO take into account information about a product shape mark that is not manifest from the graphic representative of the mark and any description of the mark?........................................... 483
2. EU—General Court—When is a mark to be treated as conveying a mere promotional message? ................................................................... 485
3. EU—EU General Court—Does the law on EUTMs recognize that merely suggestive or allusive terms should not be condemned as descriptive? ............................................................... 487
4. EU—EU General Court—How far can descriptiveness objections apply across a range of goods and services associated with the operation of an online platform? .............................. 489
5. EU—EU General Court—Can potential descriptiveness issues relating to the laudatory meaning of a word be swamped by consideration of other descriptive meanings that the word might or might not be given in the context? ............ 492
6. EU—EU General Court—Can descriptiveness objections based on the meaning of a mark in a certain European language be overcome by evidence that, in the relevant culture of the consumers who speak that language, the term of which the mark is composed would not be used? .... 494
7. EU—EU General Court—What gives a simple graphic form distinctive trademark character in the eyes of the relevant public?................................ 497

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8. EU—EU General Court—In what circumstances may a figurative mark formed of a geometric pattern be taken as liable to form a surface decoration or an aspect of a product or packaging shape?...................................................... 498
9. EU—General Court—Can a shape mark be held to have acquired a distinctive character where the shape in question is absorbed within another shape that has been extensively marketed, and is not distinguished from it?............ 501
10. EU—EU General Court—Can an abstract design confer inherent distinctiveness on a color mark, and can a survey designed to show acquired distinctiveness also help establish the mark’s inherent distinctiveness? ............................. 503
11. EU—General Court—Sound marks—When should a sound mark be regarded as excessively simple, notwithstanding the familiarity of consumers with the use of sound marks in the economic sector concerned? ...................................... 505
12. EU—EU General Court—Can a claim to acquired distinctiveness be established by use of an abbreviation of the trademark concerned? ......... 508
13. EU—EU General Court—For an EUTM to have acquired distinctive character through use, must the mark have been used in the whole of the European Union? ............................................... 510
14. United Kingdom—English High Court—Shape marks—Article 3(3)—For a shape mark to have acquired distinctive character, must the trademark applicant be able to demonstrate that the relevant public rely on the shape as an indication of the trade source? ................................. 514
15. Germany—German Federal Patent Court (BPatG)—Sign eligible for protection / absolute grounds against protection—Is a “flag” inserted into a candy wrapping capable of protection as a registered trademark? .............................................. 517

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16. Germany—German Federal Supreme Court (BGH)—Absolute grounds—Does the fact that a sign has a promotional meaning exclude its suitability to identify the origin of goods or services?.................................................................... 521
17. United Kingdom—EWHC—Shape marks—Is a shape mark’s “iconic” status sufficient to demonstrate that it has a distinctive character?..... 522
18. Austria—Austrian Supreme Court (OGH)— When is the assessment of the public perception of a trademark a question of law? ............................ 526

IV. Relative Grounds for Refusal of Registration—Conflict with Earlier Rights .............................................................. 529
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 529
B. Legal Texts (Note: the quoted texts are pre-2016. See Introduction) .................................................................. 530
C. Cases .............................................................................. 535
1. EU—CJEU—Can an Article 8(1)(b) case succeed where the marks correspond in a weak element? ... 535
2. EU—CJEU—In an opposition case based on the reputation that has been acquired by the earlier mark, what is the impact of an argument that the earlier mark has a low inherent distinctiveness? ........................................................ 538
3. EU—EU General Court—Could the use of a “family of marks” argument strengthen an “unfair advantage” challenge based on the mark from which the family has been derived? ................ 540
4. EU—EU General Court—Comparison of marks—Is a mark composed of a forename/surname combination sufficiently distinguished from a mark comprising simply the corresponding surname, in the clothing sector? ....................................................................... 544
5. EU—EU General Court—Can the structure/format of a well-known mark be protected in an “unfair advantage” claim? .............. 546

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6. EU—EU General Court—What factors influence success or failure in an “unfair advantage”based opposition involving a very well-known mark that is nevertheless a word with a certain descriptive or generic use? ....................................... 549
7. EU—EU General Court—How can earlier unregistered and/or foreign rights be effectively marshaled in order to used effectively in EUTM trademark oppositions? ............................................ 551
8. EU—EU General Court—Where a company’s name is used as the word element of its trademarks, can those marks be held to have a reputation within the meaning of Article 8(5) of the EUTM Regulation on the basis that the company possesses a goodwill in relevant markets? ................................................................... 554
9. Spain—Spanish Supreme Court—Is the Spanish “continuity of registration” doctrine in accordance with the TM Directive?.......................... 556
10. Spain—Spanish Supreme Court—When can a protected geographical indication not be used to invalidate a later trademark? .................................. 558
11. Germany—German Federal Patent Court (BPatG)—What degree of distinctiveness does a trademark registered on the basis of acquired distinctiveness possess, and what geographic area is relevant for answering the question of whether or not an EUTM registered on the basis of acquired distinctiveness should be regarded as enjoying a higher degree of distinctiveness? ....... 561
12. Sweden—Swedish Court of Patent Appeals—Is it possible for a trademark applicant to overcome an obligation to registration based on earlier rights, where the applicant and the proprietor of the earlier rights once belonged to the same group of affiliated companies?.................. 563

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13. Benelux—Court of Appeal Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg—Must the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) follow a predefined method to analyze the merits of a trademark opposition?.............................................. 565
14. Benelux—Court of Appeal of The Hague, The Netherlands—Is conceptual similarity between a word mark and a graphic device sufficient for a finding of a likelihood of confusion in a situation where the goods at issue are identical and the earlier device mark enjoys a reputation? ... 566

V. Bad Faith ............................................................................. 567
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 567
B. Legal Texts (Note: the relevant provisions of the TM Directive have been omitted, as the only reported case this year is governed by the EUTM Regulation.) .. 568
C. Cases .............................................................................. 568
1. EU—EU General Court—Can a trademark registration be invalidated on bad faith grounds on the basis that it was secured as the result of an improper filing strategy?..................................... 568

VI. Use, Non-Use, and Proof of Use .......................................... 572
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 572
B. Legal Texts (Note: since the cases covered below are all connected with EUTMs, only the relevant provisions of the EUTM Regulation are given below. The text of the Regulation is given in its pre-2016 form.) .............................................................................. 573
C. Cases .............................................................................. 574
1. EU—CJEU—Non-use—Can the lack of genuine use of an EUTM within five years from the date of the registration of the trademark deprive the proprietor of the possibility of contesting the infringement of the trademark?............................... 574

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2. EU—EU General Court—To what extent can an EUTM be considered to be used despite variations between the forms appearing on the register and the form presented in the trademark owner’s marketing? ................................ 576
3. EU—CJEU—Can reasons that might help to justify why a trademark has not been used at all also be relied on to explain why only limited use of the mark has been made, and thus establish that the use (although limited) qualifies as genuine use? ............................................................. 579
4. EU—EU General Court—When assessing whether or not genuine use has been made of a mark, within the meaning of Article 42(2) of the EUTM Regulation, what analysis may be made of the role it plays in distinguishing trade origin? ....................................................................... 580

VII. Procedural Issues in Proceedings Relating to EUTMs ....... 582
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 582
B. Cases .............................................................................. 583
1. EU—CJEU—Is the recordal of the license necessary before the licensee of a EUTM can bring an infringement claim against a third party? ........................................................................ 583
2. EU—CJEU—Can partial renewal requests relating to different goods and services covered by the same trademark be submitted at different times during the renewal period? ............. 585
3. EU—CJEU—Can a contradiction in the reasoning of an EU General Court decision amount to a “failure to state reasons” requiring the decision to be set aside? ..................................... 588
4. EU—EU General Court—For what purpose may, and should, the EUIPO have regard to decisions of higher courts of EU Member States when dealing with cases concerning the same trademark? ............................................................... 589

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5. EU—EU General Court—Must the EUIPO take into account evidence of a trademark’s reputation submitted in previous opposition cases when considering a reputation-based opposition to a later trademark application, if the opponent has referred to the cases concerned in its submission?.................................... 592
6. EU—EU General Court—Can an EUTM applicant seek partial annulment of an EUIPO Board of Appeal decision by reference to a newly formulated limitation to the goods that are specified in its application, which indicates that the goods are for a defined, limited purpose? .......... 596
7. Austria—Austrian Supreme Court (OGH)—In EUTM infringement proceedings, when can (or could) an invalidity-based defense to the infringement claim prevail in advance of a ruling on a related counterclaim that the EUTM be held invalid?......................................................... 597

VIII. Infringement ........................................................................ 600
A. Introductory Comments ................................................. 600
B. Legal Texts (Note: the quoted texts are pre-2016. See Introduction) .................................................................. 601
C. Cases .............................................................................. 603
1. EU—CJEU—Can an advertiser be liable for continuing use of a trademark in advertisements that the trademark proprietor has attempted to remove, or has never authorized? ............................................................... 603
2. Italy—Italian Supreme Court—Can acquired distinctiveness be proved (only) by means of a consumer survey? ..................................................... 604
MarkTrademarkDistinctivenessTextsNote