Il board of appeal EUIPO (6 luglio 2023, 5 camera, R 870/2022-5, n° di deposito 002262327, di cu dà notizia Anna Maria Stein su IPKat; trad. inglese automat., orig. tedesco; questa la pag. del fascicolo nel database dell’ufficio) comnferma la difficoltà di registrare come marchio la forma del prodotto: solo se assi distaccantesi dalle prassi di ettore ci si può riuscire.
Così il BoA:
<<33 However, for the purpose of applying those criteria, account must be taken of the fact that the average consumer’s perception is not necessarily the same in relation to a three-dimensional mark consisting of the appearance of the product itself as it is in relation to a word or figurative mark consisting of a sign which is independent from the appearance of the goods it denotes. Average consumers are not in the habit of making assumptions about the origin of products on the basis of their shape or the shape of their packaging in the absence of any graphic or word element; it could therefore prove more difficult to establish distinctive character in relation to such a three-dimensional mark than in relation to a word or figurative mark (29/04/2004, 456/01 P Metal C 457/01 P, Tabs (3D), EU:C:2004:258, § 38; 20/10/2011, 344/10 P pads C 345/10 P, Botella esmerilada II, EU:C:2011:680, § 46; 15/12/2016, 678/15, DEVICE OF A CRESCENT (fig.) + DEVICE OF A CURVED LINE WIDENING INTO AN ARC IN SHADES OF GREEN (fig.), EU:T:2016:749, § 22; 26/10/2017, 857/16 , SHAPE OF A TALL GLASS (3D), EU:T:2017:754, § 22).
34 In such circumstances, only a mark 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) EUTMR (20/10/2011, 344/10 P 345/10 P P, Botella esmerilada II, EU:C:2011:680, § 47 with further references). The more closely the registered shape resembles the shape most likely to be taken by the product in question, the greater the likelihood of the shape being devoid of any distinctive character for the purposes of that provision (16/12/2020, 118/20, Form einer Verpackung, EU:T:2020:604, § 28)>>.
<< 48 Finally, a heart character is also a simple geometric shape which is generally also devoid of distinctive character (12/09/2007, 304/05 , Pentagon, EU:T:2007:271, § 22, 33; 13/07/2011, 499/09, Purpur, EU:T:2011:367, § 34; 13/04/2011, 159/10, Parallélogramme, EU:T:2011:176, § 28, 30; 06/11/2014, 53/13 , Line which slants and curves, EU:T:2014:932, § 70; 28/06/2017, T-470/16, Darstellung EINES DREIECKS (fig.), EU:T:2017:442, § 23;), although it is not the classification as a geometric shape that is decisive, but that the geometric figure illustrated is not capable of conveying a message that consumers will be able to remember (13/07/2011, 499/09, Purpur, EU:T:2011:367, § 36; 29/09/2008, 139/08 , Smiley, EU:T:2009:364, § 31, 37).
49 It is an obvious fact that heart symbols were perceived by the relevant public (see paragraph 39 above) in exactly the same way as nowadays, namely as an expression of sympathie, affection or connection, at the time of the application in 2001. The fact that the use of a heart shape is not, or was not unusual, on the bakery goods market that is the subject of these proceedings is evident from the Google image search submitted as Annex 2 by the applicant for cancellation on 25 August 2020, and is confirmed in the printouts from websites which show heart-shaped bread rolls submitted by the EUTM proprietor as Annex HE 2 with the grounds of appeal.
50 The decoration of the upper side of bread and bread rolls with the aid of stamps or handles or pushers is not novelty, but rather a longitudinal tradition, as can be seen from the ancient Browup mpel, as can be seen in Annex BG 1 of 3 November 2022 (see, in particular, the article over a 1500-year-old, religious breadth stamp in fts magazine).
51 Overall, it can be seen from the present documents and taking into account obvious facts that the goods that are the subject of these proceedings often had a round shape and were light colour in June 2001. Furthermore, the decoration of the bread surface is a longer-year-end tradition. With regard to simple heart designs, these were not distinctive in principle in 2001 as symbols for affection or enthusiasm. Finally, the use of this symbol for bakery goods, which were purchased and consumed at celebrations of all kinds, for example, was also customary on the market. The fact that the design of cardiac foodstuffs in the form of a heart was at least in 2002 in Germany (see paragraph 39 above) is also confirmed by the decision of the German Federal Patent Court (32 W (pat) 281/03) mentioned by the applicant for cancellation in its written submission of 3 November 2022. In that decision, confectionery in the form of a heart was refused on the grounds that it was devoid of distinctive character.
52 Overall, the contested sign merely consists of a connection between elements that are customary in the sector and devoid of distinctive character, which was already obvious in 2001. Overall, the contested trade mark 2001 was not so striking that it would have been remembered by the consumer (14/02/2019, 123/18 , REPRESENTATION OF A HERZENS (fig.), EU:T:2019:95, § 30)>>
<<54 The more closely a sign resembles the shape most likely to be taken by the product in question (or its packaging or packaging), the greater the original distinctive character. Only a mark which departs significantly from the norm or customs of the sector is able to fulfil a function of indicating origin (29/04/2004 , 456/01 P resins C 457/01 P, Tabs (3D), EU:C:2004:258, § 39; 07/05/2015, C-445/13 P, Bottle, EU:C:2015:303, § 91; 26/10/2017, 857/16 , SHAPE OF A TALL GLASS (3D), EU:T:2017:754, § 23). Novelty and originality are not relevant criteria for the assessment of distinctive character (17/12/2010, 336/08, Hase, EU:T:2010:546, § 24; 26/11/2015, 390/14 , JK KANGOO JUMPS XR, EU:T:2015:897, § 25; 26/10/2017, 857/16 , SHAPE OF A TALL GLASS (3D), EU:T:2017:754, § 23).
55 As already stated, light, round bread and bread rolls were common in 2001. At the time of application, the heart on the bread roll was also perceived as a purely decorative, customary and therefore non-distinctive symbol.
56 Whether it was the EUTM proprietor, which introduced the bread rolls decorated with a heart stamp for the first time on the market is likewise irrelevant and is unable to alter the already established non-distinctive character of the sign (cf. for descriptive expressions: 06/02/2013, 412/11 , Transcendental meditation, EU:T:2013:62, § 92).
57 The fact that the exclamation in the shape of a heart was supposedly a highly innovative design element at the relevant point in time cannot be understood against the background of the longitudinal breadth mist, which was much more elaborate in comparison therewith (see, for example, Annex BG 1 of 3 November 2022).
58 The EUTM proprietor’s reference to Section 50 (2) MarkenG in conjunction with Section 8 (1) (1) MarkenG also comes to nothing. This is because a corresponding provision according to which an application for a declaration of invalidity based on lack of inherent distinctive character can only be made within a period of ten years after the date of registration of the contested trade mark is lacking precisely in the European Union Trade Mark Regulation.
59 The Cancellation Division correctly found that the contested European Union trade mark was devoid of the necessary minimum degree of distinctive character pursuant to Article 59(1)(a) EUTMR in conjunction with Article 7(1)(b) EUTMR. The appeal must therefore be dismissed as unfounded>>.