Invisible images again: the Kat rages against the Curia

STOP PRESS: shortly after this item was posted, the "invisible" images miraculously appeared in the German version, but still haven't appeared in the French one.  Can some kind reader offer to assist Curia in these matters? Even if they were using primitive software like Blogger they wouldn't have these problems.


While patent people pontificate on the linguistic issues that beset the countries of the European Union, trade mark practitioners and their clients still suffer in silence. But now, courtesy of the IPKat, here comes a massive miaou of rage.

Today on the Curia website [note for non-Europeans: that's the website of the Court of Justice of the European Union] a decision of the General Court was posted. The case is T‑253/09 and T‑254/09, Wilo SE v Office de l’harmonisation dans le marché intérieur (marques, dessins et modèles) (OHMI). Alternatively it's Wilo SE v Harmonisierungsamt für den Binnenmarkt (Marken, Muster und Modelle) (HABM).  By now you may be suspecting that, of the 23 official languages of the European Union, this decision is posted in just two of them, French and German. Normally that would be quite enough to complain about, but this time it's much worse.  This case involves an application to register as a three-dimensional Community trade mark a sign representing the casing of a motor of a heating pump, for goods in Classes 7 and 11.  The examiner said it wasn't registrable because it was devoid of distinctive character; the Board of Appeal agreed.  And now, the IPKat guesses, Wilo's appeal has been dismissed too.

When you click on to the webpage, you will discover that there are two representations of what the IPKat knows to be images -- but all he can see is two boxes, each of which bears the legend "Image not found".   He has checked, using different internet browsers, in case the Curia website has been trained to refuse access to some of the more popular ones, and there is definitely nothing there.

Says the IPKat, what on earth is the point of making available to the international community of trade mark users, owners and practitioners a report on the outcome of an appeal which is available in only two languages out of the official 23 and which does not even trouble to show the image which the applicant has been expending so much effort and energy trying to register?  He calls for the following action:
 (i) the person at Curia who is responsible for maintaining the website should please make the image available, if possible now;

(ii) the authority or person responsible for supervising the content of the Curia website should take the necessary measures to ensure that this doesn't happen again [it has happened on numerous occasions in the past too. Readers may remember this];

(iii) Curia should give the contact details of the person responsible, so that when things like this happen we all know whom to contact.  The Kat is not looking for a scapegoat to shoot -- he just wants to know whom he can gently contact and see, "Bonjour (or whatever), it's Le Chat calling.  Just thought you ought to know that. malheureusement, one of your illustrations has just dropped off the page ..."
Merpel says, I don't know what all the linguistic fuss is about.  The decision may only be available in French and German, but the little sign that says "Image not found" is definitely in English.

There's a little mini-poll on the top of the Kat's side bar.  Can you try the link to this appeal decision and then let him know if you can see the images?
Invisible images again: the Kat rages against the Curia Invisible images again: the Kat rages against the Curia Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, December 09, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Hello.

    The image is properly displayed in the the german version of the decision.

  2. I can see them in the German version but not the French version.

    You aren't missing much - they aren't particularly distinctive.

  3. I tried both the French and German versions, using Google Chrome and Microsoft Explorer -- and neither worked.

    The images have roared into sight on the German version a few minutes ago now, using Chrome and Explorer -- but still aren't on the French site.

  4. I can see them on the German version, but not on the French one.

    From Barcelona

  5. Aside from the angst suffered in the trade mark community, may I respectfully point out that this sort of phenomenon is not unknown in patents either? Devotees of invisible images may like to view drawing sheet 6 in US 2005/0244794-A1; Figures 8B and 9B are my favourites.

  6. The web page relies on a piece of Javascript which I did not tried to untangle or debug, but against which I harbour much suspicion. The problem may not be the greffier's fault.

    In case it is the drawings you want to see, I suggest that you go to OHIM's database and look for application numbers 005620001 and 005805692. What WILO essentially tried to get protection for was for a circulation pump (or parts thereof) painted green. Even though bright or dark red is the most usual colour for plumbing and heating implements, I think it's a good thing that these applications were refused, as otherwise a sort of arms race could have be triggered. I could imagine every manufacturer trying to get protection her own shade just in case.

    Be careful not to hiss too much. I have a water pistol within reach in case my newly adopted feline attempts to bully yet again her older resident rival.

    As for the language issue, I've never read you complaining about content available only in English such as is increasingly the case with the EPO.

  7. at 8 am the day after posting the French still does not work (and the correction to the German is still functioning)

  8. I can see them in both versions. Friday 1330 CET, using Firefox.


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