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    来源: | 作者:jr20170321 | 发布时间: 2019-06-29 | 104 次浏览 | 分享到:
    阿迪达斯失去“三道杠”

    上周,阿迪达斯的一个三道杠商标被欧盟普通法院(European General Court)宣告无效。

    对我们大多数人而言,“三道杠”等同于阿迪达斯及其品牌。欧盟普通法院的上述判决向各企业含大牌企业敲响了警钟,提醒在商标申请前制定策略计划的重要性。
    案情提要

    阿迪达斯2014年注册了如下欧盟商标(在案商标):



    在案商标申请时包含的商标描述为“本商标由三条平行、等距、同等宽度的竖条构成,将以任意方向使用在商品上”。

     一家比利时制鞋公司发起无效挑战。欧盟知识产权局第二复审委员会于2016年宣告在案商标的注册无效,理由是商标缺乏内在显著性而且未经证明已经在欧盟获得显著性因此一开始就不应在2014年获准注册。

    阿迪达斯之后向法院起诉。阿迪达斯声称在案商标是一个纹样商标(pattern mark)而不是普通图形商标(figurative mark)并且经过使用已在欧盟获得显著性。

    2019年6月19日,欧盟普通法院维持了此前欧盟知识产权局第二复审委员会作出的无效裁定。


    对注册商标的不同解释

    商标申请的内容是否准确反映申请人的保护需求至关重要。在申请已含内容及定义之外再提出别的保护请求是不可能的。

    阿迪达斯在本案中辩解在案商标是一个纹样商标因此能以各种尺寸、比例进行延伸性使用。

    但是欧盟普通法院维持了欧盟知识产权局第二复审委员会的认定,认为商标的保护范围只限于商标所注册的样式。

    欧盟普通法院强调阿迪达斯在申请时已标明该商标为图形商标,并未说明是一个纹样商标。

    因此,在案商标仅能就注册时所呈现的尺寸、比例获得保护。


    使用商标与注册样式不同

    在案商标的核准保护范围看来比阿迪达斯原本预期的要窄,这就直接影响了法院对阿迪达斯提交的使用证据的效力的判断。

    某些情况下,使用的商标与注册样式略有差异,只要差异不影响到商标的显著特征,使用证据仍然可以被采信视为有效证据。

    阿迪达斯在本案中声称其商标已在欧盟通过使用获得显著性并提交了使用证据,但大部分证据里显示的是与注册商标不同的三道杠图形。

    阿迪达斯同时声称其实际使用的商标并未改变在案注册商标的显著特征,因此这些使用证据应当被采信视为有效证据。

    但是欧盟普通法院与欧盟知识产权局第二复审委员会并不认可与注册样式有区别的商标的使用证据的效力,并强调以下几点:

    1. 商标本身非常简单时,使用样式仅有细微差异也可能导致对注册样式的特征的显著改变;

    2. 使用样式采用了相反的颜色搭配组合,这必然改变了注册样式的显著特征;

    3. 有些证据显示实际使用的标志是两道杠而不是三道杠;

    4. 实际使用的斜条纹组合改变了商标注册样式的显著特征。

    商标在欧盟是否已获得显著性

    阿迪达斯声称在案商标已通过使用在欧盟获得显著性因此应当维持注册。

    阿迪达斯提交的大部分证据因显示的实际使用商标与注册样式不同而被认定无效,其余有效的证据只剩下从五个欧盟成员国获得的市场调查报告。

    虽然可以依照在几个成员国的证据从而推测出商标在整个欧盟范围内的使用情况,但在本案中,五个欧盟成员国的市场调查结果最终被认定不足以证明商标在欧盟已获显著性。


    本案对商标权人的提示

    输了本案对阿迪达斯而言倒不是全盘皆输。阿迪达斯还有一些包含多种样式的三道杠注册商标。但本案是一个例子,体现了商标申请之前制定策略计划的重要性。

    阿迪达斯原本希望得到的保护范围比实际获得的要大,但商标申请时的一些描述直接影响了法院对注册商标的解释。

    本案判决还凸显了商标程序及诉讼中证据的重要性。理解注册商标的保护范围,确保使用方式符合保护范围,保持使用的良好记录及证据,对于日后维护注册权利或者在类似于本案的撤销案件中维持注册,都十分重要。

    本案判决也同时突显在整个欧盟范围内证明一个商标的使用将变得更加困难。

    上述这些问题都十分复杂。商标权人需认真考虑从一开始就委托一个商标代理律师来办理业务,以确保在打算提交的申请以及注册权利的后续维护、维权及抗辩方面均获得专业意见。


    附英文版:
    Adidas Loses its Stripes

    Last week one of Adidas’s three stripes trade mark was declared invalid by the European General Court. 

    To most of us, three stripes is synonymous with Adidas and its branding. However, the recent decision of the General Court serves as a vital reminder for businesses on the importance of strategic planning before filing your trade marks, even for big brands.


    Key Facts

    Adidas registered below European Union trade mark in 2014:

    The registration also included the description: “The mark consists of three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction”.

    The European Union Intellectual Property Office Second Board of Appeal invalidated the registration in 2016 upon a challenge brought by a Belgian shoe company, ruling that the mark is inherently indistinctive and has not acquired distinctiveness throughout EU and should not have been granted registration in 2014.

    Adidas then brought the case to the court. Adidas argued that the mark was a pattern mark rather than a figurative mark and has acquired distinctiveness in EU through use.

    On 19th June 2019 the General Court confirmed the invalidity of the above European Union Trade Mark registration, upholding an earlier decision of the European Union Intellectual Property Office Second Board of Appeal.


    Interpretation of the Mark as Registered

    It is essential that a trade mark application correctly sets out exactly what the applicant is seeking to protect. It is not possible to claim a scope of protection which is over and above what is presented and defined in the application.

    Adidas sought to argue that the mark was a pattern mark and therefore capable of extending to use in various dimensions and proportions.

    However, the General Court upheld the Board of Appeal’s decision that the scope of protection was limited to the mark in the exact form registered.

    The General Court highlighted that Adidas had indicated in its application that the mark was a figurative mark and had made no reference to the mark being a pattern mark.

    As a result, the registration could only extend to the lines presented in the dimensions and proportions reflected in the mark subject of the registration.


    Evidence of Use of Marks which Differed to the Mark as Registered


    The scope of protection granted to the registration was therefore narrower than Adidas originally intended and this had a direct impact upon the Court’s assessment of the evidence of use Adidas had submitted in the proceedings.

    In certain circumstances it is possible to rely upon evidence of use of a trade mark which differs to a mark as registered if the differences have no impact upon the distinctive character of the mark.

    In defending the invalidity action Adidas argued that the mark had acquired distinctiveness in the EU and submitted evidence of it in use to support that claim. However a significant proportion of the evidence submitted related to use of three stripes in forms which differed to the mark as registered.

    Adidas argued that the evidence related to use of variations which did not alter the distinctive character of the registered mark, and submitted that the evidence should therefore be accepted.

    However the General Court agreed with the Board of Appeal’s decision to refuse the evidence of use of marks which differed to the mark as registered, reiterating the following points:

     

    (i) where a trade mark is extremely simple, even a slight difference could lead to a significant alteration to the characteristics of the mark as it had been registered;

    (ii) use of the mark at issue in the form where the colour scheme is reversed necessarily alters the distinctive character of that mark

    (iii) some of the evidence showed a sign with two instead of three stripes and

    (iv) the use of sloping stripes altered the distinctive character of that mark.


    Acquired Distinctiveness throughout the EU

    Adidas’s defence to the invalidity action was based on its claim that the mark had acquired distinctive character throughout the EU by virtue of the use made of it and was therefore capable of registration on that basis.

    As a large amount of the evidence submitted was deemed to relate to marks which were not included in the scope of the registration, Adidas was essentially left with five market surveys from five EU member states to support its claim.

    Whilst it is possible to extrapolate evidence in a number of member states to the entire territory of the EU, in this instance it was held that five market surveys in five EU member states was not sufficient.


    Key Points for the Reader

    All is not lost for Adidas as it does own a number of trade mark registrations for various forms of its three stripes mark. However, this case is an example of the importance of strategic planning before filing a trade mark application.

    Adidas was seeking to claim a broader scope of rights than it was granted and the drafting of the application impacted upon the Court’s interpretation of the registration.

    The decision also highlights the importance of evidence in trade mark proceedings. Understanding what your registration protects and ensuring that your use reflects what is protected, as well as retaining good records of such use, is very important should you later seek to enforce your registered rights, or as here have to defend an action to cancel your registration.

    Finally, the decision highlights the increasing difficulty associated with proving use throughout the EU.

    All of these issues are extremely complex, and you should therefore seriously consider instructing a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney from the outset in order to ensure that you are properly advised on your proposed application and on the subsequent maintenance, enforcement and defence of your registered rights.