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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Anthonia Ghalamkarizadeh
Birgit Clark
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Christian Tenkhoff
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Niamh Hall
Nikos Prentoulis
Stefan Schröter
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Yvonne Onomor
Medion wins this round in "life" dispute with Nokia

Just out today, the General Court's judgment in case T-460/07 (Nokia v OHIM, Medion) was a bit disappointing for Nokia. As the IPKat already informed us last week,Nokia sought to register "LIFE BLOG" as a CTM in classes 9, 38 and 41. 

Medion opposed mainly on the basis of an earlier German trade mark registration for "LIFE" in classes 1,7 to 11, 16, 21, 28, 37, 38, 41 and 42.Nokia failed to convince OHIM's Opposition Division, as well as the Board of Appeal, and the General Court was not too kind either. It upheld the Board of Appeal's decision and rejected Nokia's appeal. The Court held thatonsumers generally attach more importance to the beginning of words since they are more pronounced (para. 60 citing case T-325/04 "Wordlink") and made the following distinction regarding the word "blog" (paras 62 and 63)

Applied to IT or telecommunications goods or services, ‘blog’ must be considered as having a limited distinctive character since, by reference to that area, that word is usually understood, even by the average German consumer of those goods or services, as referring to an online diary (weblog). In that category, the word ‘life’ has a greater distinctive character than the word ‘blog’. However, as regards all the other goods or services which do not imply an IT or telecommunication element, and in regard to which the word ‘blog’ has no meaning, it must be held that neither of the two elements ‘life’ or ‘blog’ emerges clearly as the element with the most distinctive character. [The juicy part comes next] However, as OHIM has rightly observed, the greater degree of inherent distinctiveness of ‘blog’ will, assuming it is established, be somewhat offset by the fact that ‘life’ is at the beginning of the sign, as the public’s attention is usually concentrated on the beginning of the sign applied for.

Further the Court held that “according to the case-law, when a composite mark consists of one component juxtaposed to another trade mark, that latter mark, even where it is not the dominant component in the composite mark, may still have an independent distinctive role in the composite mark. In such a case, the composite mark and the other mark can be regarded as similar (Case T-212/07 Harman International Industries v OHIM – Becker (Barbara Becker) [2008] ECR II-0000, paragraph 37; see also Medion, paragraphs 30 and 37). In this case, having regard to all the above considerations, the ‘life’ element retains an independent distinctive role in the mark applied for” (para 73).

Another interesting bit revolves around the Court’s answer to Nokia’s argument of peaceful coexistence on the market of many marks incorporating the term “life” [kind of a “crowded field argument”]. The Court held that although it could not be entirely excluded that such coexistence could reduce the risk of confusion [that sounds like “don’t even think about it”], nevertheless, it should be proven before OHIM that such coexistence is based upon the absence of consumer confusion [yeap, that’s a no – but how could you ever prove that?]

Comments or thoughts anyone?

Posted by: Nikos Prentoulis @ 14.28
Tags: General Court, CFI, t-460/07, life life blog, nokia, medion, opposition, likelihood of confusion,
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