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it’s all Greek to me

15 September 2010

Do we make assumptions about the origin of goods on the basis of a single letter?

The Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM) says not – an application for a community trade mark by Borco to register the Greek letter alpha – a – for wines was held to lack distinctive character, being a simple reproduction of the letter and also a mark that Greek consumers would not see as an indicator of origin.

Advocate General Bot thinks otherwise and contends the OHIM’s practice of automatically rejecting applications to register single letters as trade marks without a full assessment is wrong.

This decision follows swiftly on from recent decisions on colour marks and confirms that all marks must be examined on their capability of distinguishing their particular goods from those of others.

It is hard to see how the ECJ could fail to follow the Advocate General’s opinion. Clearly there are no short cuts to examining distinctiveness no matter how short the mark!

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