Zappanale dispute and Lacoste writing to the police

German magazine Der Stern reports on the next round in the ongoing dispute between the Zappa Family Trust and fans of cult musician Frank Zappa over the use of the word mark ZAPPA, registered as a Community trade mark.

The Trust has been trying to prevent the Zappanale, an annual music festival organised of Zappa fans that involves many uses of the Zappa name and image - on the basis of that registered Community mark. However, it transpired that the Trust had only used the word "Zappa" as part of the "official" Zappa website URL, which was operated from the US. Reversing a decision of the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (20 U 48/09) held that this use did not amount to genuine use of the trade mark (Article 15(1) CTMR). The court nonetheless stressed that use of a mark in a domain name as such may be sufficient for constituting genuine use - just not in this case because the public would consider the use of the word Zappa as a general descriptive reference and would not understand it as a reference to the trade mark owner.

For an in-depth analysis of this case, this Kat recommends Guido Westkamp’s current intelligence note published in JIPLP: “Personality trade marks and their limits: Frank Zappa Family Trust Inc. v Arf e.V.

According to the latest Stern report, the Higher Regional Court had also held that the Zappanale music festival could still be held and that the Zappanale organizers were allowed to use the word mark Zappa, run their own Zappanale website and sell Zappanale merchandise. Finally, the Higher Regional Court ruled that no further appeal in this matter was allowed. Undeterred, Frank Zappa’s widow, Gail Zappa, who had sought damages from the Zappanale organisers, which the court had also denied, took the matter to the German Federal Supreme Court filing an appeal against the Higher Regional Court’s denial of leave to appeal. The German Federal Supreme Court agreed with Mrs Zappa, even though Der Stern did not report on the reasons given by the court. All we now for now is that the legal dispute surrounding the Zappanale will continue.

And now for something very different: eagle eyed IPKat readers already noticed in July (see the IPKat report here) that Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik had been portrayed in several mass circulation publications wearing a garment bearing the Lacoste crocodile. The BBC now reports that Lacoste appears to have taken the unusual step to ask the Norwegian police to prevent mass killer Anders Breivik wearing the brand in court after he allegedly even claimed Lacoste was his favourite brand... not the kind of endorsement any brand owner would wish for.
Zappanale dispute and Lacoste writing to the police Zappanale dispute and Lacoste writing to the police Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Monday, September 12, 2011 Rating: 5

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