TUESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2010
Battle of Mariefred leaves both sides free to use 'Gripsholm'
In a recent Swedish dispute, The Gripsholm Inn AB v The Swedish Red Cross (Case T 9378-09), the Svea Court of Appeal, Stockholm, ruled that the Swedish Red Cross infringed neither the trade mark nor the business name of Gripsholm Inn AB when it used the mark GRIPSHOLMSVIKEN HOTEL & CONFERENCE.
The Gripsholm Inn -- said to be the oldest inn in Sweden -- ran a hotel, restaurant and conference business in the small town of Mariefred, Sweden, having used its name since 1609. In 2006 the Swedish Red Cross, a non-profit organisation, started a hotel and conference business under the name Gripsholmsviken Hotel & Conference, from premises that were only about 1,000 metres from The Gripsholm Inn. According to The Gripsholm Inn, the Red Cross infringed its exclusive rights in the trade mark GRIPSHOLMS which it had established through use under the Swedish Trade Mark Act.
The Stockholm District Court ruled in favour of the Red Cross and, holding that the name 'Gripsholms' lacked the required distinctiveness to function as a trade mark, there being over 30 other company names which contained the names Gripsholm or Gripsholms. The court added that the marketing surveys in support of the inn's action did not show that the name Gripsholms itself was known in connection with the services provided by the Gripsholm Inn. Nor, it seems, did former employees of the Gripsholm Inn use the name Gripsholms on its own, but referred to 'the Gripsholm Inn' or merely 'the Inn'.
Accordingly the mark GRIPSHOLMS had not been established through use with regard to the services provided by the Gripsholm Inn and there could be no trade mark infringement. Further, it could not be said that the Swedish Red Cross infringed the inn's company name, there being no risk of confusion between the parties' respective company names.
The Svea Court of Appeal affirmed this decision on appeal and a subsequent application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court has been withdrawn.
Source: Tom Kronhöffer and Linda Petersson (MAQS Law Firm, Stockholm), writing for World Trademark Review.
Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 08.46
Tags: Sweden, trade mark protected through use,