The High Court of New Zealand in Energy Beverages LLC v Frucor Suntory NZ Limited  NZHC 3296 ruled that energy drink company Frucor Suntory NZ Ltd’s (Frucor) non-traditional green colour trade mark was valid. This decision is a rare example of a New Zealand based Court analysing non-traditional marks and highlighting the difference to Australia’s position. A full copy of the decision can be found here.Read More
In a recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling, based on a referral from the Stockholm Court of Appeal, the CJEU considered whether the distinctiveness of a sign that is to be applied to specific services should be assessed with regard to what is customary in the relevant sector. A full copy of the decision can be found here.
The Court clarified that, in the context of trade marks for services, the assessment of a sign’s distinctiveness should not always involve an assessment of norms and/or customs of the sector.Read More
CJEU determines no likelihood of confusion between footballer’s “Messi” figurative mark and earlier MASSI mark.
Whilst debate will continue to rage as to whether Messi or Ronaldo is the world’s best male football player, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) has ruled that Argentine superstar can register his name as a trade mark after an almost decade long legal battle.
In an interesting decision for trade mark fanatics, irrespective of their interest in football, the CJEU stated that Lionel Messi’s reputation could be taken into account, without any evidence of said reputation being provided, when weighing up whether the public would be able to determine the uniqueness of Messi’s mark.Read More
The EUIPO recently upheld an opposition by DC Comics to protect its reputable SUPERMAN mark from a similar sign, despite the applicant’s sign covering a different class of goods. The decision confirms that, for there to be a sufficient risk of injury under Article 8(5) EUTRM, the public must perceive a ‘link’ between the sign and the earlier mark. The mere fact the two marks cover different classes of goods and services is not inherently a barrier to such a link. Here the link arose largely from the earlier mark’s reputation, and commercial connections between the two classes in question.
Some will see the EUIPO as swooping to the rescue to protect the hard-earned reputations of brands; others will see this as an unreasonable expansion of rights beyond a mark’s designated classes, and a Kryptonite to legitimate activity.Read More
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently confirmed that when assessing the actual use of a mark and the scope of protection afforded by a trade mark, the defining factor is the way in which it is perceived, and it is irrelevant that it is classified as a figurative or a position mark. In the CJEU’s decision in ECLI:EU:C:2019:471, the CJEU rejected German shoemaker Deichmann’s appeal to have Spanish competitor Munich SL’s trade mark revoked. The case revolves around the registered mark below, depicting a solid line cross on the side of a dotted outline of a shoe.Read More
Playgro Pty Ltd v Playgo Art and Craft Manufactory Limited  FCA 280
Manufacturers selling products into Australia be warned: the fact you are located outside of Australia will not protect you from infringing Australian trade marks. This was the message the Federal Court handed down in the recent decision of Playgro Pty Ltd v Playgo Art and Craft Manufactory Limited  FCA 280.
Playgo was a Chinese manufacturer of children’s toys sold for many years under the “PLAYGO” trade mark. Playgo agreed to supply its toys to a number of well-known Australian retailers, who then imported the products into Australia and sold them in stores across the country. Australian company Playgro commenced proceedings against Playgo, arguing that it infringed various Australian registered trade marks for “PLAYGRO”.