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Key Case recap- OHIM V BORCO-Marken-Import Matthiesen GmbH & Co KG

Written by India Busson- a student at Bournemouth University on 15 May 2018

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OHIM V BORCO-Marken-Import Matthiesen GmbH & Co KG

The General Council have potentially opened the flood-gates for numerous applications involving single figurative letter trade marks, by annulling the European Union Intellectual Property Office (OHIM)’s decision to refuse a single letter trademark registered by BORCO.

BORCO attempted to register the letter ‘a’ as a trade mark in respect of alcoholic beverages (except beers).  The letter ‘a’ appears in a standard font with a slight style, and was considered a figurative mark opposed to a word mark.

OHIM refused the mark initially, and again when the case reached the Board of Appeal. OHIM claimed that ‘single letters lacked the minimal level of distinctive character’.

BORCO took the decision to the General Court, who concluded that OHIM has misapplied Article 7(1)(b) CTMR. Noting that the argument of single letters remaining available to all, is in contradiction with Article 4 TMD. The General Court therefore overturned the OHIM refusal, as the registration of a trade mark ‘is not subject to a finding of a specific level of linguistic or artistic creativity or imaginativeness’.

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