Spido: Use of Google Adword infringes competitorís trademark

The ECJ has already passed rulings on the question whether one can use the competitor's trademark as Google Adword, a number of times. Rule of thumb is: it is allowed unless the origin function of the trademark is impaired. The advertisement must clearly show if there is a relationship between the advertiser and the trademark owner or not.


Spido offers boat-cruises in and around the port of Rotterdam. River Cruise, a competitor, uses, among other words, SPIDO as an Adword. The word SPIDO does not, however, appear visibly in the advertisement that is listed. River Cruise claims that it is clear to site visitors that River Cruise is a different company.

In the preliminary relief proceedings court disagrees. It is unclear to users if there are economic ties with Spido or if it concerns a competitor. Even more so since River Cruise is a descriptive term. End result: prohibition of use and a court order to pay the costs of proceedings.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?