Judgment of the Riga Regional Court of 1 August 2018 in the case No. CA-2966-18/2 Community Designs vs. 3D Marks
On May, 2018 the Industrial Property Board of Appeal (hereinafter – the Board of Appeal) examined the opposition filed by the client Ecolean AB against the 3D mark registrations “Oga persiku Jogurts” (reg. No. M 69 603) un “Oga melleņu Jogurts” (reg. No. M 69 604) based on the following earlier registered Community Designs: RCD 000155072-0001, RCD 000155072-0002, RCD 000409792-0001, RCD 000409792-0002, RCD 000964531-0001, RCD 000964531-0002, RCD 000964531-0003 un RCD 000964531-0004.
Earlier Community designs
Contested trademark registrations
The opposition was based on the Latvian Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin foreseeing another earlier industrial property rights (in this case industrial design rights) and bad faith of the applicant.
This case was handled throughout all instances by the trademark and design attorney, lawyer Gatis Meržvinskis.
Having reviewed the case on the merits and taking into account the arguments and evidence, the Board of Appeal decided to fully satisfy the Opposition. The Board of Appeal concluded that the packaging shape used in the contested 3D marks are conceptually similar with the earlier Community designs RCD 000409792-0002 and RCD 000964531-0002. The Board of Appeal also acknowledged that the contested 3D marks could not be regarded as being filed in good faith.
The owner of the contested 3D marks appealed the Board of Appeal’s decision before the Vidzeme District Court. However, the court dismissed the appeal and concluded that the packaging of the 3D marks is a copy of the earlier Community Designs. Further, it is not acceptable that the Community Designs owned by our client Ecolean AB are included in the scope of protection of the contested 3D marks. It should be noted that the Vidzeme District Court also analysed the following question – whether a shape as such (without any figurative elements) designates a commercial source/origin of products and therefore could be registered as a trademark. The court acknowledged that it is necessary to consider that the contested marks are 3D marks and their protection refers to the shape of the product. Consequently, the court looked at the question whether the overall impression of the shape of the packaging portrayed in the 3D marks differs from the overall impression of the Community designs (packaging). After a careful analysis, the court concluded that the registered Community designs RCD 000409792-0002 and RCD 000964531-0002 are clearly visible in the 3D marks.
Lastly, the Vidzeme District Court admitted that the 3D marks are filed in bad faith, as the Applicant was aware of the contractual relationships he had undertaken in connection with the intellectual property of our client Ecolean AB.
The decision of the Vidzeme District Court was appealed before the Riga Regional Court, which rejected the appeal.