The battle for ICELAND continues

pexels-photo-414101Iceland Foods will appeal the EUIPO’s decision for cancelation of its trademark ICELAND registered in 2014 for classes 7, 11, 16, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35. This trademark is used for supermarkets in The UK.

The procedure was initiated by Promote Island, a government organization from Iceland based on Article 52(1) EUTMR in conjunction with Article 7(1)(c) EUTMR:

The following shall not be registered:

  • (a) signs which do not conform to the requirements of Article 4;
  • (b) trade marks which are devoid of any distinctive character;
  • (g) trade marks which are of such a nature as to deceive the public, for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or service;

The EUIPO agreed with Promote Island and canceled the trademark. The arguments for this are:

It follows from all of the above that ‘ICELAND’ may serve, from the point of view of the public concerned, to designate an essential and desired characteristic of the goods and services.

Therefore, the mark conveys obvious and direct information regarding the geographical origin of the goods and services in question, and in some cases, the subject matter of the goods as well.

Considering all of the above, it follows that the link between the word ‘ICELAND’ and the contested goods and services is sufficiently close for the sign to fall within the scope of the prohibition laid down by Article 7(1)(c) EUTMR and Article 7(2) EUTMR and that this was also the situation at the time of filing of the contested EUTM, namely, 19/04/2002.

The EUIPO found that Iceland Food failed to prove acquired secondary distinctiveness in the EU.

The Icelandic foreign minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson expressed his satisfaction with this decision.

“It is contrary to common sense for a foreign company to be able to appropriate the name of a sovereign state as was being done in this case”, the minister said.

Iceland’s foreign ministry added that consumers were likely to associate the mark with “the country of Iceland for all goods and services the registration is claimed for”.

Source: WIPR.

Advertisements

The Black and white trademark color dominance in Sweden is over

sunnana-harbour-2914389_960_720.jpgHans Eriksson published an intriguing article for IPKat discussing the issue on color assessment of trademarks in Sweden.

Until that moment, the Swedish practice in that regard was to accept that trademarks in black and white covers all color combinations for the purpose of trademark assessment in case of disputes.

Not any more. The Swedish Patent Office and the Swedish court change that position implementing the European court decision in case C-252/12 Specsavers, according to which the registration of a trademark in black and white cannot be granted a scope of protection that automatically covers all possible color combinations.

Sweden alongside Denmark and Norway was one of the few countries in the EU which has continuously used this broader approach in color assessment of trademarks.

This change of the local practice will reflect on all future applicant who has to bear in mind that when they build their trademarks strategies for the territory of Sweden.

The full article can be found here.

A dispute over geographical indications can threaten the trade deal between the EU and Australia

bigstock-Australia-flag-with-european-u-133799099.jpgAs it is well-known the EU is negotiating with Australia for a $100 billion trade deal similar to those signed with Canada and Japan.

In that regard, the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan expressed his concerns about the deal after the last meeting between the parties in Canberra.

As in all other deals, the EU expects all of its geographical indications to cover the other party’s territory after the deal, which aim to protect the European producers of traditional products.

The problem in the case of Australia, however, is that many local manufacturers have been using European geographical indications, such as Prosecco and Feta for free for decades. The EU insists that to be discontinued. On the other side, the Australian government tries to support its producers in an attempt to avoid eventual economic disturbance for them.

In most of the cases, such disputes end with a grace period after which the relevant producers have to seize the use of the protected geographical indications or in some cases at least to add the name of the country in front for a distinction.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

A brief guide for brand building and protection

pexels-photo-1449081Trecina Surti (Novagraaf) published a short guide in Lexology regarding some of the most important considerations when it comes to brand building and trademark registration. The conclusions which can be made are:

  • It is highly recommendable descriptive brand names to be avoided. The reasons for these are many. From one hand, some of these names will receive refusal for trademark registration by the Patent Offices. From another point of view, such names can be registered in combination with graphics or other distinctive words, however, this protection will be weaker due to the fact that the descriptive elements can be used by everyone.
  • The brand name descriptiveness has to be evaluated bearing in mind the different languages. For instance, in the case of European trademarks, even if the brand name is distinctive in one of the languages in the EU, in case that it is descriptive in another one, the trademark can receive a refusal.
  • Clearing trademark search for earlier similar or identical marks has to be done before any use of a trademark, because otherwise if you start using it, you can be accused of trademark infringement.

The full article can be found here.

McDonald’s lost a Big Mac dispute in the EU

pexels-photo-1600727McDonald ’s lost a trademark dispute with the Irish food chain Supermac’s regarding its European trademark ‘Big Mac’. The Irish company attacked this mark with a request for cancelation based on a lack of genuine use on the territory of EU.

According to the EU law, if the trademark owner doesn’t use its mark for a period of 5 years before the cancelation request, he can lose the rights over its mark unless evidence for genuine use is submitted.

McDonald’s did exactly this, submitting affidavits with sales figures under the grand as well as brochures and printouts of the company’s websites and a Wikipedia page providing information on the Big Mac.

According to the EUIPO, however, these materials don’t show a real use of the aforementioned trademark. First of all, affidavits are signed by McDonald ’s employees which give them less weight because they are not independent evidence.

Regarding the brochures, there was no information on how they were used and whether they reached the consumers. The printouts from the company’s site can’t show any interactions with the consumers or any sales.

“Wikipedia entries cannot be considered as a reliable source of information”, as they can be edited by the website’s users, the ruling said.

It is highly likely that McDonald ’s will appeal this decision. Nevertheless, this case clearly shows the need for thorough preparation when it comes to gathering evidence for such trademark disputes because otherwise the trademark rights can be threatened.

Source: WIPR.

Samoa joins The Madrid Protocol for international registration of trademarks

international-2690817_960_720.jpg

WIPO informs about the Somoa accession to the Madrid Protocol for international registration of trademarks. In that way, the participating Member States become 103. According to the information Samoa will require individual fees for such marks as well as every license for an international trademark will have to be registered with the local Patent Office.

The Protocol will enter into force for the country on 04.03.2019.

For more information here.