Marchio non distintivo nè ab origine nè in un secondo momento (Game tournaments)

Il marchio è questo, per computer games e altro:

Tribunale UE  T‑776/21 del 26.10.2022, ,Gameageventures LLP,  c. EUIPo, conferma i rigetti (parziali) dell’ufficio.

E’ nullo per mancnza di distintività , nemmeno sorpavvenuta (secondary meaning)

La parte piu interessnte è quella processuale circa le prove offerte per il secondary meaning., §§ 66-88:
<<  79   In order to prove that a significant proportion of the relevant public identified the goods and services concerned as originating from its undertaking, because of the mark applied for, the applicant submitted the following evidence to EUIPO:

–        two written statements;

–        evidence of cooperation with a major e‑sports broadcasting operator;

–        evidence of the provision of informational and promotional services;

–        Google Analytics traffic data for game-tournaments.com, namely the applicant’s website;

–        Extracts from the website game-tournaments.com.

80      First of all, as regards the two written statements, they are taken from persons established in Cyprus and in Sweden, the latter being the founder of an e‑sports team in Denmark. The witnesses stress that their statements are based on their knowledge, experience and impressions. They state that the mark applied for has indeed been put to use, since they have been confronted by its use since 2018 and 2019 respectively.

81      However, the mere fact that the sign has been used within the European Union for some time is not sufficient to demonstrate that the public targeted by the goods or services in question perceives it as an indication of commercial origin (see, to that effect, judgment of 11 April 2019, Adapta Color v EUIPO – Coatings Foreign IP (Bio proof ADAPTA), T‑224/17, not published, EU:T:2019:242, paragraph 111 and the case-law cited). Further, even though the witnesses assert that the mark has been used within the European Union, neither specifies the countries in which that use took place. Therefore, the written statements do not demonstrate use of the mark in the relevant part of the European Union by a significant portion of the relevant public.

82      Next, as regards the evidence of cooperation with a major esports broadcasting operator, that evidence consists of, first, a letter of intent between the applicant and an undertaking based in Cyprus, allowing the applicant to broadcast sporting events and, second, certificates of appreciation for two of those sporting events. That evidence therefore refers only to a single collaboration agreement of one year’s duration and in no way demonstrates that the mark applied for has acquired any distinctive character in consequence of its use.

83      Furthermore, the evidence of the provision of informational and promotional services consists of a sponsorship agreement, an information provision and licence agreement and a set-off agreement between the applicant and an undertaking established outside the European Union. That evidence shows that the applicant provides promotional and informational services, for that undertaking in particular. However, no mention is made in those documents of the countries concerned or of the relevant public. Nor did the applicant explain in the application what the connection was between those documents and the distinctive character acquired through its use.

84      Further, the Google Analytics data on the game-tournaments.com traffic show that thousands of users in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden visited the applicant’s website between 1 January 2018 and 29 February 2020. It should be noted that Cyprus and Malta are not mentioned there. In that regard, the Board of Appeal rightly pointed out, with regard to the number of residents in those countries, that the number of users represented only 0.1% of the general public in the countries mentioned.

85      Finally, the applicant also provided extracts from the game-tournaments.com website.  Although the mark applied for appears on the various pages of the website, it is not obvious, since it occupies only a small area and is positioned only in the corner of the website pages, that by its mere presence it contributes to any distinctive character of that mark among the relevant public. The applicant merely describes the content of its website but does not explain how the website in question confers distinctive character on the mark applied for.

86      It must be noted that those limited samples, which do not cover all the relevant countries, are not representative of the whole of the relevant public in the part of the European Union where the sign is considered to be devoid of distinctive character. Moreover, given its nature, the evidence provided by the applicant is insufficient to demonstrate that distinctive character has been acquired through the use of the mark applied for.

87      It follows from the foregoing that none of the evidence provided by the applicant is capable of calling into question the Board of Appeal’s finding that the evidence produced is not sufficient to prove that a significant portion of the relevant public is able, because of the mark applied for, to identify the goods and services concerned as originating from a particular undertaking.>>

Tre marchi di Philip Morris (due figurativi e uno denominativo) giudicati nulli per carenza di distintività

Si considerino i seguenti due marchi figurativi

Case T‑502/21,
Case T‑501/21

per sigarette , tabacco e simili.

In via amminstrativa e poi giudiziaria (Trib. UE 5 ottobre 2022, Case T‑502/21, Philip Morris Products SA c. EUIPO nonchè Trib. UE Case T‑501/21, pari data e parti)   sono stati giudicati privi di distintività ex art. 7.1.6 reg. 2017 n. 1001.

Potrebbe apparire sorprendente, essendo le immagini non banali e tenendo conto del basso livello di distintività  di solito richiesto.

Pensa al contrario il Trib. (riporto la motivazione solo di T‑502/21 ma è simile all’altra):

<< 19  In the present case, it should be noted that the mark applied for represets a combination of black lines, some of which form an angle.

20      In that regard, first, it must be held that, given their simplicity, none of those black lines, taken individually, is likely to present aspects or communicate a message, which would be easily and instantly memorised by the relevant public, which, moreover, the applicant does not suggest.

21      Second, the applicant does indeed submit that, taken together, the black lines making up the mark applied for create, first, a contrasted effect and, second, an illusion of an ‘outer boundary line’ and an illusion of movement forwards. The applicant adds that the perception of that mark would be altered by the angle it is viewed from by the relevant public.

22      However, first of all, it should be noted that the contrasted effect alleged by the applicant results solely from the fact that the mark applied for is in black and white. Such a combination of colours is commonplace, with the result that it cannot, by itself, confer on that mark a characteristic likely to be perceived by the relevant public as an indication of the origin of the goods at issue.

23      Next, even if the mark applied for were capable of creating an illusion of movement or a boundary line, it must be pointed out that such an illusion is perceptible only after a detailed examination of that mark, with the result that that illusion does not constitute an aspect that can be easily and instantly memorised by the relevant public [il punto più interesante].

24      Lastly, it must be stated that the applicant has not adduced any evidence capable of establishing that the change in the perception of the mark applied for resulting from the change in the angle it is viewed from by the relevant public, assuming that that has been established, is such that it constitutes a characteristic likely to be perceived by the relevant public as an indication of the origin of the goods at issue.

25      Third, it should be noted that, contrary to what the applicant suggests, the mark applied for differs from the marks at issue in the cases which gave rise to the judgment of 15 December 2016, Representation of a grey curve and representation of a green curve (T‑678/15 and T‑679/15, not published, EU:T:2016:749). The Court noted in those cases that those marks were reminiscent of both the letter ‘c’ and a crescent moon, which were, moreover, stylised on account of the different shades of colour creating a play of light and shadow, the curves that constitute them being of varying thickness and those curves having a slight twist.

26      In those circumstances, it should be noted that the Board of Appeal correctly found that the mark applied for, considered as a whole, did not represent more than the sum of the lines of which it is composed. Since, as has been pointed out in paragraph 20 above, those lines are not likely to present aspects, or communicate a message, which would be easily and instantly memorised by the relevant public, it must be held, as the Board of Appeal did, that that mark will be perceived by the relevant public as having a decorative purpose.

27      In the third place, it should be borne in mind that, according to the case-law, the notion of general interest underlying Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001 is, manifestly, indissociable from the essential function of a trade mark, which is to guarantee the identity of the origin of the marked product or service to the consumer or end-user by enabling him or her, without any possibility of confusion, to distinguish the product or service from others which have another origin (see judgment of 8 May 2008, Eurohypo v OHIM, C‑304/06 P, EU:C:2008:261, paragraph 56 and the case-law cited).

28      Consequently, it must be held that, contrary to what the applicant claims, it does not follow from the notion of general interest underlying Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001 that a mark must be regarded as distinctive solely on the ground that the registration of that mark is not liable to harm the competitors of the proprietor of that mark.

29      Therefore, it must be held that the Board of Appeal was right to find that the mark applied for was devoid of any distinctive character within the meaning of Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001, notwithstanding the references, in the contested decision, to judgments relating to three-dimensional marks.>>

Il marchio denonmnativo TOGETHER. FORWARD è stato deciso dal Trib. UE sempre il 5 ottobre 2022 ,Case T‑500/21.

Analogo esito negativo:

<< In that regard, first, the applicant does not dispute the fact that the mark applied for will be perceived as an advertising slogan whose purpose is to promote the goods at issue. Nevertheless, it maintains that that mark means ‘Collectively (or Jointly). Moving Ahead.’ and that the relevant public could interpret that meaning in different ways following a ‘mental effort’, like, for example, the word mark Vorsprung durch Technik at issue in the case giving rise to the judgment of 21 January 2010, Audi v OHIM (C‑398/08 P, EU:C:2010:29).

19      However, it should be noted that the applicant does not specify to what extent the fact that the mark applied for would be understood by the relevant public as meaning ‘Collectively. Moving Ahead.’ rather than ‘jointly progressing’ is such as to call into question the Board of Appeal’s assessment of the distinctive character of that mark. Furthermore, in view of the proximity of those two meanings, it cannot be inferred that that mark, which is composed of two common English words, does not convey a simple, clear and unequivocal message.

20      Furthermore, it should also be noted that, contrary to what the applicant suggests, the mark applied for differs from the word mark Vorsprung durch Technik at issue in the case which gave rise to the judgment of 21 January 2010, Audi v OHIM (C‑398/08 P, EU:C:2010:29). In that judgment, the Court of Justice noted that the General Court had held that that mark could constitute a play on words and be perceived as imaginative, surprising or unexpected, which is not the case here. It had also pointed out that that mark showed a certain originality and resonance and that at least a measure of interpretation would be required in order to perceive a possible promotional message.

21      Consequently, it must be held, as the Board of Appeal did, that the meaning of the mark applied for is not such as to confer any particular originality or resonance on it, to require at least some interpretation or to trigger a cognitive process, notwithstanding the fact, relied on by the applicant, that that mark does not contain any verb and that the word ‘together’ is positioned before the word ‘forward’.

22      Nor is that conclusion called into question by the applicant’s claim that an interpretative effort would be required on the part of the relevant public in order to be able to infer from the meaning of ‘Collectively. Moving Ahead.’ that the goods at issue were, specifically, respectful of the health of the consumers of those goods. As EUIPO maintains, in essence, that fact is not such as to call into question the fact that that meaning will, on its own, be perceived without any effort by that public>>.

Marchio denominativo/figurtivo descrittivo e qundi nullo per prodotti alimentari

Questo il marchio in esame per prodotti alimentari, respinto dall’ufficio perchè privo di distintiva (art. 7.1.b-c reg. UE 2017/1001).

Il Tribunale UE con sentenza 28.09.2022, T-58/22, Miroslav Labaš c. EUIPO, conferma :

<< 34   in the light of the foregoing, the Court finds that the word element ‘fresh’ of the mark applied for will naturally be perceived by the English-speaking public of the European Union, immediately and without further thought, as a descriptive indication of a characteristic or the intended purpose of all the goods and services covered by the application for registration, and not as an indication of their commercial origin. In order for the registration of a mark to be refused, it is sufficient that there are grounds for refusal in part of the European Union (see, to that effect, judgments of 8 July 2004, MLP Finanzdienstleistungen v OHIM (bestpartner), T‑270/02, EU:T:2004:226, paragraph 21, and of 27 September 2005, Cargo Partner v OHIM (CARGO PARTNER), T‑123/04, EU:T:2005:340, paragraph 57).

35      Thus, the Court considers that there is a sufficiently direct and specific relationship between the word element ‘fresh’ of the mark applied for and all the services at issue, with the result that the relevant English-speaking public will immediately perceive, without further thought, a description of those services or of one of their characteristics.

36      As regards the figurative elements of the mark applied for, the Court finds that they have, as such, no element that is visually eye-catching or likely to be remembered by the relevant public. As is rightly noted by the Board of Appeal, those figurative elements do not divert the attention of that public away from the descriptive word element of that mark, but, on the contrary, reinforce that descriptive character by the representation of two green leaves, which recall the concept of fresh and natural.

37      Nor are the stylisation of the letters of the word element ‘fresh’ of the mark applied for or their red colour likely to hold the attention of the relevant public.

38      Accordingly, the figurative elements of the mark applied for are not, because of the representation of two stylised green leaves, or the stylisation or the colour of the letters, particularly complex; nor are they capable of offsetting or altering the descriptive character of the word element of that mark in relation to the goods and services at issue.>>

Decisione non difficile: l’assenza di distintività è palese.

Il Trib. conferma anche per servizi (classe 39), in quanto correlati ai prodotti alimentari . E’ il punto meno scontato della decisione :

<<30   As regards the services in Classes 35 and 39 covered by the mark applied for, it should be noted that the relevant English-speaking public will directly perceive the word element ‘fresh’ as providing information concerning the kind, quality and intended purpose of those services, since that element may be associated with the object, aim or field of specialisation of the services in respect of which registration of the mark is sought.

31      In particular, a direct descriptive link will always be established in the mind of the relevant public between the word element of the mark applied for and the services at issue, which consist of: (i) the retail sale of foodstuffs and beverages, which the relevant public will identify as fresh goods which are not cooked, have been recently obtained, or have been prepared with fresh goods that have been recently cooked, frozen, canned or preserved by other methods; (ii) the retail sale of toiletries, cleaning preparations and beauty and hygiene products which provide a degree of freshness or contain ingredients that the relevant public will identify as being fresh or as conveying a feeling of freshness and cleanliness; (iii) the retail sale of freezing equipment, the ultimate aim of which is preserving the freshness of retailed products; (iv) the retail sale of tobacco, a product which the relevant public will perceive as being fresh (for example, fresh tobacco leaves), or associated with air fresheners used to counteract the smell of tobacco; and (v) business, administrative, advertising and marketing services which could be specifically aimed at undertakings operating on the market of fresh goods and at companies marketing fresh foodstuffs and beverages.

32      Although the last set of services covered by the mark applied for – business, administrative, advertising and marketing services – are not expressly aimed at undertakings which operate on the market of fresh goods and at companies which market fresh foodstuffs and beverages, they also include specific services which could be used by such undertakings and companies. Therefore, as regards those generic services, the relevant public will naturally associate the word element ‘fresh’ with a characteristic of those services and will easily assume that the services in Class 35, which are normally for the purpose of running a business and facilitating the sale of goods or services, are specialised in the field of fresh goods.

33      As regards the services relating to the packaging and storage of goods in Class 39, it is sufficient to note that the main aim of those services is to keep goods fresh and to avoid any deterioration. Consequently, the word ‘fresh’ may be perceived by the relevant public as a direct indication that the goods which are packaged and stored by using the applicant’s services will be kept fresh in the sense that they will maintain their characteristics and properties.>>

Appello delll’EUIPO su marchio di forma/di posizione

Il 5 board of appeal del l’EUIPO del 29.08.2022, R 197/2021-5 , Blake Holdings appl./appellant, decide un interessante fattispecie di marchio di posizione e/o di forma, consistente in colore grigio applicato a battistrada e porzione laterale esterna di copertoni da camion (“The trade mark comprises the tread and outer portion of a tyre in colour light grey (“Pantone 7527 C”) depicted in the area outside the outer broken line, as shown in the attached representation.”>>).

Ravvisa che manchi di distintività, perchè non si distanzia a sufficienza dalle caratteristiche dei copertoni normalmente reperlbili sul mercato

Premesse:

<< 48   Therefore, contrary to the applicant’s statements, both the claimed light grey
colour and its particular position on the tread and outer portion of the off road tyre
are far for being ‘distinct’ or unique. Thus, taken as a whole, the trade mark
applied for will be perceived only as one of the variants of similar part of off road
tyres existing on the market.

29/08/2022, R 197/2021-5, Outer portion of a tyre in colour light grey (position)
49    In this regard, the Board further recalls that a mere departure from the norm or
customs of the sector is not sufficient to overcome the ground for refusal set out
in Article 7(1)(b) EUTMR. For the mark to fulfil its essential function, namely, to
indicate commercial origin, the difference between the sign applied for and the
norms or customs of the sector must be significant (12/02/2004, C-218/01,
Perwoll, EU:C:2004:88, § 49). In other words, any divergence from the way in
which the competing goods are presented is not sufficient in itself to guarantee
the existence of distinctive character. This difference must also be ‘significant’
and therefore immediately apparent to consumers.
50    What is more, a feature displayed in a sign which is functional in nature and
purpose will generally not be able to confer distinctiveness on the mark, as it will
be associated by the target consumer merely with that specific function, and not as
an indicator of commercial origin, and this, independently of whether the (much
stricter) conditions of Article 7(1)(e) EUTMR are also fulfilled (12/09/2013, T-
492/11, Tampon, EU:T:2013:421, § 23; 18/01/2013, T-137/12, Vibrator,
EU:T:2013:26, § 27; 14/11/2016, R 1067/2016-4, Schlüsselprofil, § 21). In the
present case, as indicated in the communication of Rapporteur of 5 May 2022, the
position mark at stake, consisting of the tread and outer portion of a tyre in light
grey, could also be seen as having a certain functionality, i.e. leaving no black
marks on floors during operations. Contrary to the applicant’s submissions, the
Board observes that that the use of tyres with non-marking properties is
potentially of interest also in relation to the claimed goods, i.e., ‘Off road tires
used with construction, industrial and agricultural equipment; none of the
aforesaid being off road tires for forklift trucks’, including the specific goods for
which the applicant claims that the position mark in question will be used, namely
tyres for Aerial Work Platforms (AWPs), as the examples provided by the
rapporteur show>>.

Pertanto :

<< 51  Taking into account all the above, the Board considers that the sign applied for
cannot be considered to depart significantly from the appearance of (part of) tyres
already found on the market. The relevant public, who is confronted with
numerous more or less similar tyres, will neither carry out a detailed analysis nor
a side by side comparison between the trade mark applied for and the other tyres
on the market, and will therefore perceive the mark applied for solely as being a
mere variety of the tread and outer portion of such tyres. There is no evidence that
the public at large or even the professionals would perceive the sign at hand as a
badge of origin.
52 Therefore, contrary to the applicant’s arguments, none of the features invoked or
their combination support the conclusion that the sign applied for departs
significantly from the norms and customs of the sector. It will therefore not be
perceived as a trade mark without having acquired distinctive character through
use.
>>

(decisione segnalata da Nedim Malovic in IPKat)

Il marchio TAKE FIVE per bevande analcoliche è nullo per carenza di distintività

Questa è la conclusione del Board di appello dell’EUIPO 01.09.2022, Case R 664/2022-1 , Studio Beverage Groupo c. EUIPO (segnalata da in IPKat), confermante il primo grdo amministrativo.

Le disposizioni  di riferimento sono gli artt. 7.1.b – 7.2 reg. UE 2017/1001.

IL pubblico di riferimento è quello english speaking e cioè <<In addition to Ireland and Malta, it consists of those countries in which, at the very least, English is widely understood, in particular, Denmark, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden>> , § 15.

Motivo: << 20   The assertion of the applicant that the sign is distinctive as it does not describe the
goods claimed is entirely unfounded. In the context of the goods applied for in
Class 32 (essentially non-alcoholic drinks, mineral waters), the public will understand the imperative form of the expression ‘take five’ as an invitation to potential customers not to pass by the goods advertised in this way carelessly, but to
take/buy them in a quantity of five. The invitation to buy conveyed by the sign
could also refer to a variety of five different types of drinks or flavours sold in one
pack, since it is common that those products are offered also in packs. Such
invitations to take or buy are not unusual, and there might be even a
compensation for buying several products, in the form of a (quantity) discount.

01/09/2022, R 664/2022-1, TAKE FIVE
21 Moreover, in advertising language, the public is accustomed to being confronted
with English terms that are intended to convey factual information in a memorable form, without recognising in them any indication of origin. In particular, the
use of the imperative form is a common stylistic device in advertising language to
address potential customers directly and to convey an advertising message to
them. With regard to the relevant goods (i.e., non-alcoholic drinks, mineral waters), it is common business practice to offer and sell daily consumption goods
which are often similar in appearance by addressing consumers directly in a verbal or visually striking manner. The present sign is a direct, obvious and also
widely used advertising statement with ‘five’ being used in the sense of a quantity
specification. Therefore, the public is familiar with receiving such advertising
messages in this form.
22 In the light of the foregoing, the word combination ‘TAKE FIVE’ cannot be
regarded as capable of serving as an indication of the commercial origin of the
goods claimed in this case. On the contrary, the relevant public, which is made up
of end consumers, will see in the word sequence ‘TAKE FIVE’, in connection
with the goods in Class 32, exclusively a general laudatory advertising statement
and an appeal to potential customers to buy. There is no evidence whatsoever that
the relevant public perceives the sign applied for, beyond its obvious advertising
and laudatory content.
>>

L’interesse, oltre che nel giudizio in sè, sta anche nel fatto che la mancanza di distintività, qui  affermata secondo la regola generale (art. 7.1.b), non avrebbe invece potuto esserlo secondo le regole particolari (artt. 7.1.c-d-e) (v. da noi l’art. 7.1.a  – 13.1 cpi): dando quindi un senso alla distinzione tra la prima e le seconde, da taluni criticata.

Marchio di servizio al limite della distintività ma registrato: BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS

L’appello amministrativo del USPTO riforma e registra il marchio <BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS>  per servizi offerti da una “non-profit entity promoting improvements in Black maternal and infant health care”.

Rigettata la domanda in primo grado amministrativo per carenza di distintività, viene invece accolta in secondo grado:

<<We agree with Applicant that the specimens show BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS is used in rendering the identified services, and identifies Applicant as the source of those services. See In re ICE Futures U.S. Inc., 85 USPQ2d 1664, 1669 (TTAB 2008) (noting that use in the “rendition” of services is an element of the “sale” of services under Section 45 of the Trademark Act). In particular, Applicant’s social media posts featuring the BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS promote Black maternal and infant health care and are directed to the public at large, including both expectant mothers and care givers.
Moreover, the fact that at least six other “Bill of Rights” marks have registered for
a variety of services—including one for “public advocacy to promote awareness of credit, debit and payment card processing practices”—suggests that there is nothing inherently unregistrable about these kinds of marks.
>>

E poi:

<< Here, Applicant is using the phrase BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS to identify its own activities promoting Black maternal and infant health care, as evidenced by the Instagram posts. That is, Applicant uses BLACK BIRTHING BILL
OF RIGHTS to speak directly to expectant Black women and health care providers
about Black maternal and infant health care rights. Applicant also is allowing others to use the phrase BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS as part of their campaigns to promote Black maternal and infant health care. The fact that Applicant allows  others to use BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS does not diminish its rights in the mark for its promotional and advocacy services. Indeed, Applicant’s “posting guidelines” for third-party use of the BLACK BIRTHING BILL OF RIGHTS seeks to
Serial No. 90581377 ensure that the proposed mark will be associated with Applicant’s efforts to promote Black maternal and infant health care >>

Tenuto però conto che il cuore del servizio è la promozione di alcuni diritti a favore di donne e bambini di colore, sembrerebbe difficile -se fosse da noi- evitare la scure di nullità rappresentata dall’art. 13.1.b del c.p.i.

La decisione è USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board , In re National Association to Advance Black Birth  23 aogosto 2022, Serial No. 90581377.

(segnalazione e link da tweet della prof.ssa Alexandra J. Roberts)

Sulla distintività del marchio UNI per matite e strumenti per scrittura

Il Tribunale UE con sentenza 13 luglio 2022, T-369/21, Unimax c. Mitsubishi Pencil, rigetta la domanda di nullità del (noto, forse <rinomato>) marchio denominativo UNI (scritto un pò schiacciato e in grassetto) per penne e strumenti di scrittura.

Il contestante allegava che il marchio , quale prefisso, ricordava le parole <university> e/o <unicolore> (monocromatico), il che rimandava a caratteristiche del prodotto o al suo uso.

Giustamente però il Tribunale conferma le decisioni amminsitrative e rigetta la domanda

Marchio generico, di uso comune e parodia dello stesso

Il marchio, costituito dalla parola <Supreme> in bianco su sfondo rettangolare rosso per abbigliamento, è stato oggetto della decisione portata da Trib. Milano 14.07.2020, n. 4218/2020, RG 21982/2018, che ne ha confermato la validità sotto il profilo della non genericità ex art. 13.1.b cpi  e della non qualificabilità come di <uso comuine> ex art. 13.1.b. cpi

Sul primo punto il giudizio è esatto.

Sul secondo invece è assai dubbio, parendo il termine <Supreme> assai comune nel commercio (anche se probabilmente la complessità data da lemma+colori muta questo primo giudizio).  Non persuasivo dunque il Trib. quando così motiva<: < Al fine di stabilire se un marchio sia corrispondente a espressioni del linguaggio comune, si deve prendere in considerazione la sua percezione negli ambienti interessati nel territorio nel quale la registrazione esplica effetto (v. sentenze CGEU 4 maggio 1999, cause riunite C-108/97 e C-109/97, Windsurfing Chiemsee, Race. pag. I-2779, punto 29, 12 febbraio 2004, causa C-363/99, Koninklijke KPN Nederland, Race. pag. I-1619, punto 77, e causa C-218/01, Henkel, Race. pag. I- 1725, punto 50 e, da ultimo, 9 marzo 2006, causa C-421/04, Matratzen Concord AG, punto 24 ).  Nella citata sentenza Matratzen (punto 25) la Corte UE rileva che è ben possibile che, a causa delle differenze linguistiche, culturali, sociali ed economiche tra gli Stati membri, un marchio che è privo di carattere distintivo o è descrittivo dei prodotti o dei servizi interessati in uno Stato membro non lo sia in un altro Stato membro (v., per analogia, quanto al carattere ingannevole di un marchio, sentenza 26 novembre 1996, causa C-313/94, Graffione, Race. pag. I-6039, punto 22).   Nel caso di specie deve escludersi che i consumatori di lingua italiana che operano nel mercato nazionale, venuti in contatto con il segno di causa, lo avvertano, senza ulteriore riflessione, come un segno di uso comune nel linguaggio corrente o negli usi costanti del commercio. Le convenute non hanno dimostrato che la lingua inglese venga utilizzata, anche solo in alternativa alla lingua nazionale, per rivolgere delle indicazioni descrittive ai membri del pubblico considerato (sul punto si ricorda come il Trib. UE, con sentenza 15 ottobre 2008, causa T-405/05, Powerserv Personalservice/UAMI – MANPOWER ha rilev ato, ai fini della valutazione in punto di capacità distintiva del marchio, che “non  è sufficiente una semplice conoscenza diffusa dell’inglese da parte del pubblico pertinente o di una parte significativa del medesimo, se l’inglese non viene effettivamente utilizzato (…) per rivolgersi a questo stesso pubblico”)>.

E’ giusto che l’onere di provarlo spetti ai convenuti. E’ però anche vero che il giudice poteva ritenerlo nullo d’ufficio ex art. 122 cpi , se avesse ravvisato l’ <uso comune>: esito possibilissimo se non probabile, come detto .

Più interessante  è la difesa di uso parodistico da parte dei covnenuti, i quali -a loro dire- lo avrebbero apertamente utilizzato come tale e cioè con apposita dichiarazione in tale senso.

Però l’eccezione di parodia, ammissibile anche per i marchi pur non espressamente prevista  (è invece ora prevista nel diritto di autore dall’art. 102 nonies l. aut. solo per gli usi on line), è di assai difficile (forse impossibile) accoglibilità, quando proposta da un concorrente. Il Tribunale la respinge  così: <Si può quindi affermare che la regola generale sia quella della protezione del marchio contro qualsiasi forma di agganciamento parassitario o di minaccia cheinterferisca con i messaggi comunicati dal marchio stesso e che il rischio diconfusione sull’origine rappresenti soltanto un’ipotesi particolare diagganciamento o di pregiudizio. Restano esclusi dall’ambito di operativitàdell’azione di contraffazione i c.d. usi civili del marchio altrui, da individuarsi inquegli usi che si collocano nella sfera esclusivamente privata. Tra questi rientra la parodia del marchio altrui intesa come genere artistico, che dà luogo ad opere autonome da quelle parodiate. Tale non è l’uso commerciale di segni distintivi, suscettibili di essere avvertiti come caricature di marchi altrui. Tale secondo caso, come osservato in dottrina, non è sussumibile nella scriminante dell’uso parodistico (per finalità artistiche) del marchio altrui ma costituisce, piuttosto, un’ipotesi di contraffazione del marchio, instaurando, per finalità commerciali, un agganciamento al messaggio di cui il marchio parodiato è portatore, che si traduce, per l’autore della parodia, in uno sfruttamento della notorietà del marchio parodiato, cui consegue detrimento (cfr., in giurisprudenza, Trib. Milano,4 marzo 1999, caso “Agip”; Trib. Torino, 9 marzo 2006, caso “Porco Diesel”)>>.

Il raginamento sul punto è corretto , tranne l’inciso <Tra questi rientra la parodia del marchio altrui intesa come genere artistico, che dà luogo ad opere autonome da quelle parodiate.>: non si può parlare di <opere> nei marchi, ma solo nel diritto di autore. Qui il giudice ha fatto una leggera confusione ma per il resto ha ragione.

Sulla distintività del marchio tridimensionale degli stivali da neve Moon Boot arriva la decisione del Tribunale UE

Avevo dato conto  nel mio post 04.07.2020 della decisione amministrativa presso EUIPO del 2020, che aeva rigettato la domanda di registazione del marchio costituito dalla forma dei notissimi stivali da neve/dopo sci Moon Boot.

Ora è stato deciso il primo grado della fase giurisdizionale ed  in senso ancora una volta sfavorevole alla società TEcnica, confermando dunque la nullità del marchio per carenza di distintività.

Si tratta di Trib. UE 19.01.2022, T-483/20, Tecnica Group spa c. EUIPO-Zeitneu GmbH.

Non ci son passaggi particolarmente interessanti in diritto, essendo largamente basata sui fatti (previa un’ ampia trattazione di questioni processuali, questa si interessante: §§ 20-74).

Ricordo solo le considazioni generali sul marchio  e su quello di forma :

It is not necessary, for that purpose, for the mark to convey exact information about the identity of the manufacturer of the product or the supplier of the services. It is sufficient that the mark enables members of the public concerned to distinguish the goods or services that it designates from those which have a different commercial origin and to conclude that all the goods or services that it designates have been manufactured, marketed or supplied under the control of the proprietor of the mark and that the proprietor is responsible for their quality (see judgment of 25 April 2018, Romantik Hotels & Restaurants v EUIPO – Hotel Preidlhof (ROMANTIK), T‑213/17, not published, EU:T:2018:225, paragraph 17 and the case-law cited)., § 83;

Average consumers are not in the habit of making assumptions about the origin of goods on the basis of their shape or the shape of their packaging in the absence of any graphic or word element, and it could prove more difficult to establish distinctive character in relation to such a three-dimensional mark than in relation to a word or figurative mark (see judgments of 22 June 2006, Storck v OHIM, C‑25/05 P, EU:C:2006:422, paragraph 27 and the case-law cited, and of 19 September 2012, Tartan pattern in dark grey, light grey, black, beige, dark red and light red, T‑50/11, not published, EU:T:2012:442, paragraph 40 and the case-law cited).   88.    It is apparent from those considerations that only a three-dimensional mark, consisting of the appearance of the product itself, which departs significantly from the norm or customs of the sector and thereby fulfils its essential function of indicating origin is not devoid of any distinctive character for the purposes of Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation No 207/2009, § 87.

Non sfucgge che il concetto chiave è quello a) del motivo per cui si arriva alla necessità di distacco significativo (departs significantly) e b) del conseguente contenuto di tale cocnetto.

Allo scopo, l’assenza di tale requisito non implica necessariamente che debba ricorrere la totale somiglianza con i prodotti già in commercii, potendo anche sussistere qualche differenza: it is important to point out that, contrary to what the applicant claims, in order to ascertain whether the three-dimensional mark departs significantly from the customs or norms of the sector, it is not necessary to show that there are other goods on the market which reproduce all the features of the contested mark. As the Board of Appeal correctly pointed out, in order to conclude that there is no distinctive character, it is not necessary for the contested mark to be identical to existing shapes but for the overall impression conveyed by that mark not to depart significantly from the norms or customs of the sector. In other words, the fact that a mark has an overall shape which is similar to variants of the product which are usually available on the market does not permit the finding that the mark, as a whole, departs significantly from the customary shapes in the sector, § 95.

Si legge poi il vero motivo della mancanza di tale distacco dalla prassi del settore: la preesistenza di altre scarpe sportive di foggia simile , § 97.

Da ultimo, il Trib. condivide la stima di elemento non distintivo della suola, della sua altezza e della disposizione dei lacci, § 100. Pertanto <<the Board of Appeal was right in finding that the constituent elements of the contested mark, taken individually, and the shape of boot taken as a whole, will be perceived by the relevant public as possible, or even common, variants of the presentation and decoration of winter boots and after-ski boots, which are part of the goods at issue since they are incorporated into the ‘footwear’ and which can also include ‘footwear soles; insoles; heelpieces for footwear; footwear uppers’>>, § 101..

Denominazioni di origine, genericità del segno e sua volgarizzazione: sul caso statunitense

Un Tribunale della Virginia (Alexnadria) affronta il caso del se il termine <Gruyere>, protetto in UE come denominazione di origine protetta, sia divenuto nome di genere (volgarizzato): si tratta di East. dist. of Virginia, Alexandria division, 15.12.2021, No. 1:20-cv-1174, INTERPROFESSION DU GRUYÈRE e altri v. UJSAdairy export council e altri.

In particolare la lite nasce da un ‘opposizione da parte di un grosso produttore caseario alla registrazione di Gruyere come marchio d icertificazione, il quale sostiene la genericità del termine (da noi anche per le DOP: art. reg. ue 1151/2021, art. 10.1.d).

La corte riconosce la volgarizzazione (o meglio: la sua genericità, trattandosi della fase della domanda di registrazione ed essendo irrilevanti le DOP-IGP nell’Unione Europea) presso il pubblico sulla base di tre tipi di prova:

(1) existing U.S. regulations permitting the use of the term GRUYERE on cheese regardless of where the cheese is produced;

(2) commercial and government data showing the widespread sale and import of GRUYERE cheese produced outside the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France [elemento altamente provante, dice il giudice, p. 19; aggiugne pure che molti formaggi prodotti in USA sono etichettati col nome de quo, p. 23 ss]; and

(3) evidence showing that the term GRUYERE is  commonly used in dictionaries, media communications, and cheese industry events and materials to refer to a type of cheese without respect to where the cheese is produced.

Pertabnto <<he record evidence of common usage and industry practice points clearly to the conclusion that while some individuals understand GRUYERE to have an association with Switzerland (and, to a lesser degree, France), the term GRUYERE has come to have a well-accepted generic meaning through the process of genericide and is no longer universally understood to indicate cheese produced in the Gruyère region.>>

Nessuna delle  parti aveva presentato come prova sondaggi presso i consumatori, ma questo non ha impedito al giduice d idecidere.

Ci si potrebbe chiedere se anche da noi il pubblica percepisca Gruyer come marchio/DOP oppure come termine genrico: però la questione è probabilmetne irrilevante poichè la DOP non è soggetta a volgarizzazione (art. 13.2 reg. _Ue 1151/2012)