Electrode product or part?

The design of a product can be protected as a design if it is novel and has individual character. Some products are composed of many different parts. This is known as a composite. With composites there is an additional rule, namely that this part must be visible in normal use. But what exactly is a component part of a complex product?


The European General Court provides clarification in a case concerning the use of Hypertherm electrodes in welding torches. The following aspects are of importance. The component has to be a consumable that must be replaced frequently and it can be replaced quickly and easily by the end user without taking the whole device apart. If this is the case, it seems more like a separate design than a component of a composite model.

If the item and the part are both for sale separately (if it is missing, the buyer will not immediately think the device is broken). Also important: if the part is interchangeable with other products/electrodes, this interchangeability is also a good indication that it is not a part of a composite product, but its own product for which design protection can be claimed.


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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?