Your trade marks should not, if possible, share similarities with earlier signs. The Court of Justice of the European Union has set a high benchmark in this regard. They must be strictly observed, otherwise your trade marks may be in great danger and you may inadvertently become an infringer who will be obliged to pay damages.
A caterer had the idea of registering ‘grill meister’ [‘grill master’] as a brand for his barbecue and beer products, as well as for his catering. He gave his brand a simple design and as a special feature the registration symbol ®. However, the caterer was very surprised when the Federal Court of Justice certified his trade mark as not only being unable to be protected, but also deceptive.
On yelp’s rating portal, users are able to rate and review any company they wish to. However, yelp forms its overall score purely from user contributions that have been ‘recommended’ by a software program beforehand. One gym thus received a poor overall score, although 90% of the user contributions submitted were positive. It suffered losses in turnover and fought back fiercely. And rightly so?
Are products bearing your brand being sold on the market without your knowledge as to their origin? And are you in a position to explain the circumstances that have led to this? You may still be able to take action.
POSTERLOUNGE carries out a Google search for its own brand, ‘Posterlounge’. Google’s result list directs the user, among other things, to ‘Hood’, one of the largest online marketplaces that hosts auctions as well as online shopping. On ‘hood.de’, third parties are selling products that compete with those of POSTERLOUNGE. How could this have occurred and who is responsible?
You’ve discovered a cheap watch on an online sales website from Turkey or China – but what do you do if you paid for it and you are asked to consent to the destruction of the watch?
‘Biogena Naturprodukte’, an Austrian manufacturer of dietary supplements, had the slogan ‘ZUM wohl’ for foodstuffs registered as an Austrian organic brand. However, the Court of First Instance of the European Union denied the sign protection as a Union trademark.
Do you want to increase the sales of your products and achieve a broader reach for your offers? If so, you might consider placing an ad for your Internet shop on Google. But a project such as this needs to be thought through carefully.
The supermarket chain, known as ‘real’, sold pieces of luggage from the well-known traditional Swiss company Wenger S.A. Like the Wenger pocket knives, the items of luggage displayed the typical Wenger cross, which is very similar to the Swiss cross. However, Wenger’s luggage was manufactured in China rather than in Switzerland, a fact that was not visible on the luggage.
You are a managing director in Germany and are provided with information about a business set up by one of your departments. You assume your management responsibility in relation to the project. Could you become liable to prosecution, should the business be used to commit trade mark infringement? The following copyright case is an example of the legal situation in German trade mark law.