The IPKat has just been wondering what facts lie behind Case C-4/10, Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac v Oy Gust. Ranin, a reference of a question from the Korkein hallinto-oikeus (Finland) to the Court of Justice of the European Union lodged on 5 January 2010 in the ruggedly handsome if (to the Kats) mysterious and impenetrable language of Finnish.
The questions referred are these:
"1. Is Regulation 110/2008 ... on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks ... applicable to the assessment of the conditions for registration of a trade mark, containing a geographical indication protected by that regulation, which was applied for on 19 December 2001 and registered on 31 December 2003?
If the answer to Question 1 is affirmative, is a trade mark which inter alia contains a geographical indication of origin which is protected by Regulation 110/2008, or such an indication in the form of a generic term and a translation, and which is registered for spirit drinks which inter alia in the case of their manufacturing method and alcohol content do not meet the requirements set for the use of the geographical indication of origin in question, to be refused as contrary to Articles 16 and 23 of Regulation 110/2008?
Regardless of whether or not the answer to Question 1 is affirmative, is a trade mark of the type described in Question 2 to be regarded as liable to mislead the public for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services, in the way referred to in Article 3(1)(g) of ... Directive 89/104 ...to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, ... [as codified]?
2. Regardless of the answer to Question 1, if a Member State has, on the basis of Article 3(2)(a) of Directive 89/104, decreed that a trade mark shall not be registered or if registered shall be liable to be declared invalid if the use of the trade mark can be prohibited by virtue of legislation other than the trade mark law of the Member State in question or Community law, is the view to be taken that, if the trade mark registration contains elements which infringe Regulation 110/2008, on the basis of which the use of the trade mark can be prohibited, such a trade mark shall not be registered?"The IPKat is curious to know what this reference is all about. Can any of his readers, whether from Finland or elsewhere, let him know. It's surprising that there haven't been more legal issues arising in Europe with regard to the interplay of trade mark protection and geographical indications and the like. Now that there are so many more of each than there used to be, perhaps opportunities for the systems to conflict with another will occur more frequently.