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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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Gino Van Roeyen
Markku Tuominen
Niamh Hall
Nikos Prentoulis
Stefan Schröter
Tomasz Rychlicki
Yvonne Onomor
General Court does not 'rehabilitate' Monster's CTM application

The Monster Energy Company sought to register the word sign 'REHABILITATE' as a CTM for the following goods:

  • 'Nutritional supplement' in Class 5
  • 'Ready to drink tea, iced tea and tea-based beverages; ready to drink flavoured tea, iced tea and tea-based beverages' in Class 30
  • 'Non-alcoholic beverages' in Class 32

The examiner rejected the CTM application on the grounds that the sign was descriptive of the goods at issue and devoid of any distinctive character. A decision that has been upheld first by the Board of Appeal and now by the General Court.

The Court agreed with the applicant that one of the meanings of 'rehabilitate' was that of 'a recovery process requiring human intervention, which occurs through training and therapy, and not by means of food or drink'. However, the term 'rehabilitate' could also mean 'to bring a person back to a good state of health or to enable him to return to a good physical condition', which was something that the goods at issue were supposed to do. In this regard, it was confirmed that a sign had to be refused registration if at least one of its possible meanings designated a characteristic of the goods concerned.

Further, the sign applied for was held to contain obvious and direct information on the purpose of the relevant goods. The relevant public would, consequently, understand without further reflection that the goods at issue could help them to return to a good or healthy condition.

Referring to the Wrigley decision, the Court did not find it necessary that the word 'rehabilitate' actually was in use at the time of the application in a way that was descriptive of the goods applied for. It was deemed sufficient that the term could be used for such purposes.

A well-reasoned decision, which illustrates the difficulties that companies are likely to face when seeking trade mark protection for a suggestive brand name, irrespective of the obvious benefits such a designation may have from a marketing perspective.

Reference: General Court, Decision of 11 December 2014 in Case T-712/13.

Posted by: Christian Tenkhoff @ 20.18
Tags: CTM; Absolute Grounds; Descriptiveness; Rehabilitate,
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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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