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Bang to rights

7 October 2011

Bang & Olufsen has been refused registration of the shape of one its speakers as a community trade mark. The General Court of the European Union confirmed that whilst the shape of a product may be registrable as a trade mark, a mark which consists exclusively of the shape which gives substantial value to the goods cannot: this is an absolute ground for refusing to register a mark. The court found that the design of the Bang & Olufsen speaker was an essential part of Bang & Olufsen’s branding and increases the value of the product as well as being a key selling point of the product. The shape therefore gives ‘substantial value’ to the product making it unregistrable.

This has to be the right decision: whilst the design of the product gives value to the goods it does not act as a badge of origin.

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