The Swedish company Oatly AB, which offers milk substitute products, failed to register a European trademark for “IT’S LIKE MILK BUT MADE FOR HUMANS” in classes: 18, 25, 29, 30, 32.
The EUIPO refused to register this sign based on absolute grounds – lack of a distinctive character. According to the Office this is a laudatory promotional slogan that cannot serve as a source of trade origin.
Oatly AB argued that this slogan is a kind of suggestive mark, which means that consumers have to think over it in order to understand its meaning, in this case a milk product that is substitute to the classic animal one.
The EUIPO dismissed this argument as unfounded. The Office considered the slogan as one with a direct meaning to the consumers which prevent it to be a real trademark sign.
This case is indicative how vague suggestive trademarks can be. Sometimes they can be registered sometimes not. In the case of Doublemint the registration was successful because the Court considered that consumers have to put an effort in order to find the real meaning of the world, that is to say what is single quantity of mint by itself in order to have double one.
Source: Marks & Clerk – Heather Williams for Lexology.