Friday, 15 May 2009

African trade mark makes history in Europe

It is not often that European Court of Justice (ECJ) is interesting has delivered a much-awaited decision relating to a dispute between Ireland's glassware giant, Waterford Wedgwood Plc, and a Stellenbosch-based company, Assembled Investments (Pty) Ltd (which owns the trademarks used by Waterford Wines (Pty) Ltd). Leanne Mostert, a partner in the Cape Town office of Webber Wentzel, who represented Assembled Investments, commented: ‘…after an almost decade long battle, the ECJ found in favour of Assembled Investments. Not only is this a great victory for SA, and for a South African brand, but the decision also sets a global precedent.’ She adds: ‘The ECJ’s decision finally puts to bed a long disputed issue. It establishes that even where a proposed trademark is identical or similar to an earlier mark with a particularly high distinctive character, there must still be some degree of similarity between the respective goods to establish a likelihood of confusion. Only then will the owner of an earlier mark be able to prevent the registration of a proposed similar mark on the basis of Article 8(1)(b) of the EU community trademark regulations.’ Mostert says the decision also confirms the 2007 decision of the EU's Court of First Instance that wine and wine glasses are not similar products although to a degree they are complementary.

Going bust:

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