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Switzerland: KALMAR is for squid, not Sweden

The Swedish Cargotec AB sought to extend the protection of its international trade mark KALMAR, covering amonst other metal parts, machines, vehicles and transportation services, to Switzerland. The Swiss IPO refused the extension, noting that KALMAR was a town of 63,000 people in Sweden and the sign therefore deceptive for goods not originating from Sweden. The Federal Administrative Court reversed on appeal.

The Administrative Court held that KALMAR was primarily understood by the relevant (general) public as a reference to squid, not the small town which had no touristic appeal, no international airport and was virtually unknown in Switzerland.

The case is one in a series of cases where the Administrative Court overturnes the IPO on factual grounds in cases where the IPO finds a sign to indicate a geographic origin. Other recent cases include SAVANNAH (vegetation, not Savannah, Georgia) or WILSON (surname, not town in North Carolina). Although the Supreme Court held in the WILSON case that signs that have a geographic meaning are assumed to be understood as geographic indications, the Administrative Court (sensibly) finds that this presumption can be overcome in the specific case if the sign has a dominant non-geographic meaning, such as KALMAR here.

Case B-550/2012 of 13 June 2013 (direct linking to the Federal Administrative Court's database is unfortunately not possible).

Posted by: Mark Schweizer @ 13.51
Tags: Switzerland, absolute grounds for refusal, geographic origin,
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MARQUES does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this blog. The views are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of MARQUES. Seek professional advice before action on any information included here.

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