The General Court of the European Union has ruled in the case T‑10/19, United States Seafoods LLC, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). This dispute concerns an attempt for registration of the following European trademark in class 29 ‘Fish; fish fillets’:
The application was refused by the EUIPO on absolute grounds, descriptiveness, and lack of distinctiveness. The phrase “UNITED STATES SEAFOODS” would be perceived by the consumers in the EU as food products produced in the US.
The applicant’s arguments that the presence of a map and the US flag is enough to create a basic distinctiveness of the sign were dismissed. According to the EUIPO these additional elements are not able to create distinctiveness, they even further stress the origin of the goods.
The General Court upheld this decision.
The case at hand is a very good example that although some inherently not distinctive signs can be registered as trademarks when they are combined with other elements, these can happen only if these additional elements are distinctive enough by themselves.
Source: Peter Gustav Olson, Lexology.