The General Court of the European Union has ruled in case T-527/20 Aldi v EUIPO.
Registration of European trademarks can be challenging sometimes. This is due not only because trademark protection in the EU has two levels – national and community but because there are linguistic and cultural differences between the Member States.
One example about such situation is an attempt by Aldi to register the following EU figurative trademark in classes 29 and 30:
The EUIPO refused to register this sign on absolute grounds – descriptiveness, Art. 7(1)(c) of Regulation (EU) 2017/1001.
The practice for protection of EU trademarks states that when one sign is descriptive for consumers even from one part of the Union, the sign will be refused.
In the case at hand, CUCINA means kitchen for the Italian speaking people. The fact that the same mark is registered and well-known in Germany cannot overcome this conclusion.
According to Aldi, the word is not descriptive because it indicates only the place where food dished are prepared. What’s more the mark consists of combination with graphics which is enough to create the necessary distinctiveness.
The EUIPO disagreed. The graphic representation was not distinctive too because the image looks like a cooking pot. A combination between two not distinctive or descriptive elements cannot turn the sign to be distinctive as a whole.
The decision was upheld by the General Court.