Disegno elementare ma sufficientemente distintivo ai sensi della disciplina dei marchi

Questo disegno di un teddy bear come marchio bidimensionale (così pare, anche se il rif. all’art. 7.1.e) del reg. 40-1994  fa pensare ad una forma cioè ad un segno 3D)  per gioielli è stato ritenuto sufficientemente distintivo, per cui è stata rigettata la domanda di amnnullamenot per carenza di distintività.

Così -confermando la fase amminsitrativa-  il Trib. UE 26.07.2023, T-591/21, Apart c. EUIPO-Tous SL.

<< 70 First, it is true that, according to the case-law, a sign which is excessively simple and composed of a basic geometrical figure, such as a circle, a line, a rectangle or a conventional pentagon, is not, in itself, capable of conveying a message which consumers will be able to remember, with the result that they will not regard it as a trade mark unless it has acquired distinctive character through use (see, to that effect, judgment of 12 September 2007, Cain Cellars v OHIM (Device of a pentagon), T‑304/05, not published, EU:T:2007:271, paragraph 22 and the case-law cited).

71 In that regard, it must be observed that the contested sign and geometrical shapes cannot be regarded as being comparably simple. Irrespective of whether it will be recognised as a teddy bear or as a fantasy figure, the outline contains sufficient elements – such as rounded shapes – as a result of which it cannot be compared to a simple geometrical shape.

72 Secondly, it should be borne in mind that it is settled case-law that, in its review of legality, the Court is not bound by the decision-making practice of EUIPO (judgment of 7 September 2022, Völkl v EUIPO – Marker Dalbello Völkl (International) (Völkl), T‑155/21, not published, EU:T:2022:518, paragraph 32 and the case-law cited).

73 Thirdly, the heart symbol is commonly used in trade in general, and not only in the jewellery sector. It is also used in a wide variety of fields and is immediately recognised as symbolising love or affection. The extent of the use of the heart symbol cannot be compared to the use of the representation of a teddy bear. Although the teddy bear is capable of conveying positive feelings, it is not used for the same purposes and is not associated, immediately and unequivocally, with feelings of love or affection, but rather, as the applicant also maintains, with childhood or childhood memories.

74 That conclusion cannot be called into question by the applicant’s argument that the relevant public would not be attracted by the shape of the bear in itself, but rather by the symbols conveyed by it, namely love or tenderness, or by the argument relating to the meaning of the teddy bear as a symbol of love. The consumer will perceive and remember the mark as such and it cannot be established that, in the present case, such a consumer will be attracted by that mark solely because of the appeal of the symbols that it represents>>.

Rigettata pure il motivo della caratteristica (rectius: della forma) che dà valore essenziale al prodotto (art. 7.1.e.iii) reg. 1001 / 2017.

<< 84 The immediate aim of the prohibition on registering purely functional shapes and the prohibition on registering shapes which give substantial value to the goods is to prevent the exclusive and permanent right which a trade mark confers from serving to extend the life of other rights which the EU legislature has sought to make subject to ‘limited periods’ (see, by analogy, judgments of 18 September 2014, Hauck, C‑205/13, EU:C:2014:2233, paragraph 31, and of 6 October 2011, Bang & Olufsen v OHIM (Representation of a loudspeaker), T‑508/08, EU:T:2011:575, paragraph 65).

85 Like the ground for refusal to register that applies to the shapes of goods which are necessary to obtain a technical result, the ground that concerns refusal to register signs consisting exclusively of shapes which give substantial value to the goods is to prevent the granting of a monopoly on those shapes (judgment of 6 October 2011, Representation of a loudspeaker, T‑508/08, EU:T:2011:575, paragraph 66).

86 The concept of a ‘shape which gives substantial value to the goods’ cannot be limited purely to the shape of products having only artistic or ornamental value, as there is otherwise a risk that products which have essential functional characteristics as well as a significant aesthetic element will not be covered. In that case, the right conferred by the trade mark on its proprietor would grant that proprietor a monopoly on the essential characteristics of such products, which would not allow the objective of that ground for refusal to be fully realised (see, by analogy, judgment of 18 September 2014, Hauck, C‑205/13, EU:C:2014:2233, paragraph 32).

87 It should also be borne in mind that, in accordance with the case-law cited in paragraph 34 above, in invalidity proceedings, as the registered EU trade mark is presumed to be valid, it is for the person who has filed the application for a declaration of invalidity to invoke before EUIPO the specific facts which call the validity of that trade mark into question.

88 In the applicant’s view, it is well known that the teddy bear is recognised as a symbol of love – similar to the symbol of the heart – which evokes positive emotions and strengthens the purchasing impulse. The applicant submits that the aesthetic value of the contested mark – an aspect which, in its view, is highlighted by the intervener – determines its attractiveness for consumers and significantly increases the value of the goods.

89 The Board of Appeal stated that the fact that the shape of the contested mark may be pleasing or attractive is not sufficient to exclude it from registration. In that regard, the Board of Appeal stated that the intervener’s statements relating to the meaning of the teddy bear symbol were not sufficient to show that the contested mark came under Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of Regulation No 40/94 and also observed that the applicant had merely recalled the relevant case-law without explaining in what respect the contested sign would determine to a large extent the behaviour of consumers. Lastly, it noted that the applicant relied on several occasions on the alleged simplicity of the bear shape in order to prove that it was devoid of distinctive character, which was in direct contradiction with the criteria required for the application of Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of that regulation.

90 In the present case, it must be stated that the contested mark does not represent a sign which consists exclusively of the shape or another characteristic of the goods. As is apparent from the reasoning set out in paragraphs 37 to 47 above, the goods covered by the contested mark represent items of jewellery which generally take the form of rings, necklaces or earrings and which are likely to bear the sign of which that mark consists, but not to take the shape thereof.

91 Consequently, the contested mark consists of a sign unrelated to the appearance of the goods it covers and not of a sign which consists exclusively of the shape of those goods.

92 Therefore, that assessment of the contested mark precludes that mark from being capable of falling under the prohibition laid down in Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of Regulation No 40/94>>.

(segnalazione di Marcel Pemsel di IPKat)