WhatsApp – problems in Norway

Facebook faced unexpected problems to register the following figurative trademark in Norway for its well-known app WhatsApp:

This mark was filed for the following Nice classes: software in Class 9, telecommunication services in Class 38, computer software in Class 42, and encryption and security services in Class 45.

The Norwegian Industrial Property Office refused registration for this sign based on absolute grounds: lack of distinctive character. According to the Office this sign representing a receiver is widespread used as indication for contacts which consumers can use to communicate with companies etc. It refers not only to phones, but to emails, chats and so on.

The decision was appealed. Facebook argued that this sign was very famous in Norway and what’s more the app itself was number one as a choice by the consumers in the country. The company submitted evidence in that regard.

The Board of Appeal wasn’t impressed and dismissed the evidence as insufficient. The reason was that in most of the submitted documents the sign above was been combined with the word part WhatsApp. According to the Board this was not enough in order acquired distinctiveness to be proved for the sign alone.

Source: AWA – Lars Platou for Lexology.

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