Louis Vuitton Malletier v Norbert Wisniewski
When applying for a trademark, one of the potential grounds for refusal that the UKIPO or EUIPO may quote is that the mark is devoid of any distinctive character ().
This requirement is an established principle of trademark law, and has been clarified and defined on numerous as requiring the mark to “individualise the goods or services to a single economic undertaking”. In other words, the average consumer must be able to determine the commercial origin or owner of the trademark.
Despite being an established principle and requirement, even the largest companies are still falling short of this requirement. In its , the General Court of the EU upheld the decision of the EUIPO that the well-known brand Louis Vuitton has failed to establish that its figurative mark, for the pattern used on many of their products, has the acquired distinctiveness to be registered as a trademark in the EU. The General Court confirmed that there was not enough evidence of the mark’s awareness in certain EU member states.
Concluding that Louis Vuitton didn’t provide any evidence to show that the relevant public in Latvia and Lithuania had sufficient knowledge of the goods and services in neighbouring Poland and Sweden (where Louis Vuitton’s distinctiveness had been established).
This highlights the ongoing complexity and potential pitfalls of trademark registration and the need to ensure that you can provide that your mark has the required distinctiveness prior to applying for the mark. If not, the EU and UKIPO will likely reject the mark, however well-known you believe it to be, like was done with Louis Vuitton.
As part of registering a trademark with us, we will advise you on the inherent registrability, and try and advise you if we think your application may be rejected or opposed by the IPO or 3rd parties.
To discuss the registration process and how we can assist you and your business, please contact our highly experienced attorneys at Patent Protect by , by telephone 01629 700363, or by sending us a message, and we will be happy to advise and support you.
1 King Street