STOP PRESS: thanks for the huge response to this plea. Apart from Chris McLeod, who posted an explanation of the ruling below, I've had helpful emails from Veronica Barresi, Andrew Maggs, Cristina Garrigues and Nathan Wajsman -- and the translations and explanations continue to flow in even as I write. Many, many thanks, all of you; it shows that we IP enthusiasts really are a community, even if we may disagree, compete, complain about each other etc etc ..
This morning the Court of Justice of the European Communities posted the Opinion of the Advocate General in a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Oberster Patent- und Markensenat (Austria) in Case C-497/07 Silberquelle GmbH v Maselli-Strickmode GmbH.
Right: this is not a picture of the IPKat in a rage -- it's a picture of him struggling with those Latvian consonants.
The question referred is a slightly curious one:
"Are Articles 10(1) and 12(1) of ... Council Directive 89/104 ... to be interpreted as meaning that a trade mark is being put to genuine use if it is used for goods (here: alcohol-free drinks) which the proprietor of the trade mark gives, free of charge, to purchasers of his other goods (here: textiles) after conclusion of the purchase contract?"The Advocate General obviously takes the question seriously because his Opinion is 58 paragraphs in length, replete with footnoted sources, and the IPKat would dearly like to tell you all about it -- but he can't. At the time of posting this blog, the Opinion is available in just eight official languages of the European Union -- Spanish, German, Italian, Latvian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish and Swedish. Here's his recommendation to the court, in Latvian:
"Padomes 1988. gada 21. decembra Pirmās direktīvas 89/104/EEK, ar ko tuvina dalībvalstu tiesību aktus attiecībā uz preču zīmēm, 10. panta 1. punkts un 12. panta 1. punkts jāinterpretē tādējādi, ka preču zīme netiek faktiski izmantota, ja to izmanto, lai apzīmētu nealkoholiskos dzērienus, ko preču zīmes īpašnieks saviem klientiem piedāvā bez maksas par viņa tirgoto tekstilpreču nopirkšanu".The IPKat is enraged by the failure of the Curia to provide translations in French and English -- two languages that are very extensively used by businesses based outside the European Union and which are constantly assured that the EU offers a good, pro-competitive and business-friendly commercial environment in which to trade. Lack of money isn't an excuse. The EU has vast amounts to waste on trivial and inessential activities. Merpel adds, it's also infuriating that the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market has been forced to sit on mountains of cash, wrongfully taken from weath-generating users of the trade mark system, and this money can't be used instantly for the training of translators who can make Court of Justice and Court of First Instance decisions available in a wider selection of official languages.
As in the past, if anyone can put the IPKat out of his misery by giving him a clue as to what this is all about, he'd be hugely grateful.