Fermenting trouble? Apple goes for MacBook

According to Appleinsider fashionable computer company Apple filed a US trade mark application for the word "MacBook" last month.

The IPKat notes how litigious burger-meisters McDonalds can be, when confronted with alien applications to register words beginning with "Mac". He also records Apple's famous and on-going battle with Beatles' offshoot Apple Corps over the use of the term Apple in respect of electronic devices for playing music. He just hopes this won't end up in court ... Merpel says, oh yes you do - but you haven't quite worked out how to spell Schadenfreude.

Non-Apple MacBook here
Apple Insider here; apple in cider here

Replica ruling - an Advocate General speaks

Today brings a European Court of Justice Opinion from Advocate General Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer in Case C-48/05 Adam Opel AG v Autec AG, a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Landgericht Nürnberg-Fürth (Germany).

The questions referred to the ECJ are as follows:
"Does the use of a trade mark registered also for 'toys' constitute use as a trade mark for the purposes of Article 5(1)(a) of the Trade Mark Directive if the manufacturer of a toy model car copies a real car in a reduced scale, including the trade mark of the proprietor of the trade mark as applied to the real car, and markets it?

If the answer to Question in 1 is in the affirmative: is the type of use of the trade mark described in Question 1 an indication of the kind or quality of the model car within the meaning of Article 6(1)(а) of the Trade Mark Directive?

If the answer to Question 2 is in the affirmative:

In cases of this type what are the decisive criteria to be applied in assessing whether the trade mark corresponds to honest practices in industrial or commercial matters?

4. Is this in particular the case if the manufacturer of the model car applies to the packaging, and to an accessory required in order to use the model, a mark recognisable to the trade as its own trade mark together with its company name and the address of its seat?"
The Advocate General's Opinion is not yet available in English, but he advises the court as follows (in French):
"62. Au vu des réflexions qui précèdent, je propose à la Cour de répondre au Landgericht Nürnberg-Fürth comme suit:

"1. L’utilisation d’un signe enregistré sur des jouets ne constitue pas un usage en tant que marque, au sens de l’article 5(1)(a)(a), de la Directive 89/104 ... lorsque le fabricant d’une maquette d’automobile reproduit à échelle réduite et commercialise une réplique d’un modèle réellement existant sur laquelle figure la marque du titulaire".

63. Dans l’hypothèse où la Cour ne partagerait pas ce point de vue pour la première question, je l’invite à répondre aux deuxième et troisième questions comme suit:

"2. La forme d’usage de la marque décrite dans la première question constitue une indication relative à d’autres caractéristiques de la maquette d’automobile, au sens de l’article 6(1)(b), de la directive 89/104.

3. Dans des cas tels qu’en l’espèce, les critères pertinents pour déterminer si l’utilisation de la marque est conforme aux usages honnêtes en matière industrielle ou commerciale sont ceux dégagés par la jurisprudence de la Cour dans les arrêts Anheuser-Busch ainsi que Gillette Company et Gillette Group Finland, précités.

Lorsque le fabricant de la maquette d’une automobile appose sur l’emballage et sur un accessoire nécessaire à l’utilisation du jouet un signe reconnaissable dans le commerce comme étant sa propre marque ainsi que sa dénomination sociale avec indication de son siège social, il agit conformément aux usages honnêtes en matière industrielle ou commerciale, sans préjudice de l’appréciation globale de toutes les circonstances pertinentes, qui incombe à la juridiction nationale".
This comes out in Babelfish, slightly edited by the IPKat, as:

"62. ...I propose at the Court to ... answer ...: "1. The use of a sign recorded on toys does not constitute a use as a mark, within the meaning of Article 5(1)(a), of Directive 89/104 ... when the manufacturer of a model of car reproduces on a reduced scale and markets a counterpart of a really existing model on which figures the mark of the holder ".

63. On the assumption that the Court would not share this point of view for the first question, I invite it to answer the second and third questions as follows:

"2. The form of use of the mark described in the first question constitutes an indication relative to other characteristics of the model of car, within the meaning of Article 6(1)(b),of Directive 89/104.

3. In cases such as in the species, relevant criteria to determine if the use of the mark is in conformity with the honest uses out of matter industrial or commercial are those released by the decisions of the Court in Anheuser-Busch and Gillette Company and Gillette Group Finland, mentioned above . When the manufacturer of the model of a car affixes on packing and on an accessory necessary to the use of the toy a recognizable sign in the trade as being his own mark like his company name with indication of his registered office, it acts in accordance with the honest uses in industrial or commercial matters, without damage of the overall assessment of all the relevant circumstances, which ut falls on the national jurisdiction to decide".

This conclusion seems both reasonable and predictable to the IPKat, who wonders if his readers agree.

1 comment:

Guy said...

Rolls Royce has always been very careful to ensure that model/toy cars using the name and trade marks are controlled. The boxes of such models carry labels stating that they have been authorised by Rolls Royce. The simulated radiators, often fitted to VW Beetles in USA, have been banned in the UK by action by Rolls Royce against the importers. Currently Rolls Royce has a 21 class Commnuity Trade Mark Registration for the word mark.

Powered by Blogger.