Buro Blanchard to partner with Abcor trademark agency

In order to secure continued support of its customers IP assets, Buro Blanchard decided to formalize the collaboration with Abcor trademark agency of Leiden, the Netherlands. Buro Blanchard and Abcor had been informally working together for several years. Not to anyone’s surprise because Frans Blanchard and Theo-Willem van Leeuwen (founder and CEO of Abcor) had known each other since the 1990’s from the advertising business.


Frans Blanchard started Buro Blanchard in 2011. With his 30+ years’ worth of experience in media and advertising, Buro Blanchard focuses on legal support for the creative industry. In addition to contracting, advertising and copyright law, trademark- and design law play a major role in this. In view of the In depth specialization in particular in the field of trademark and design law, a close collaboration with Abcor has developed over the years.

Abcor, founded in 2007, has since grown into one of the leading trademark representatives in the Benelux. Abcor has the ambition to unburden its customers and works for clients ranging from local SME to international customers. Abcor is a full service trademark agency, that not only specializes in portfolio management, but also provides additional advice in the field of brand management (which rights to claim and how to claim them), advice in the context of trademark infringements (on- or offline) and advisory in bordering areas such as misleading/comparative advertising, design protection, et cetera. The Abcor team consists of 10 in total, of which 4 are certified Benelux/European trademark attorneys.

Abcor registers and enforces IP rights (including trademarks and designs) for its worldwide customer base. In recent years, the office has been included in various worldwide rankings as one of the leading trademark offices in the Benelux (by WTR1000 and IP Stars, among others). From 1 July 2022, Abcor will be recorded as representative of Buro Blanchard's customers in all relevant registers.



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IP Knowledge Quiz Designs

The plaintiff specializes in online sales of children's bicycles. In safeguarding its rights, the company has registered the design of these bicycles under Community Design. Through a multiple design registration, the company secures the rights for 10 new versions of its children's bicycles simultaneously under Community Design. Subsequently, when the defendant introduces a similar bicycle, legal proceedings ensue. Among the various claims, the plaintiff alleges infringement of its design rights, which in turn is contested by the defendant. A design must possess novelty and individual character. The defendant states that the design lacks novelty, as elements of this design are already present in various existing bicycles. Essentially, the defendant's bicycles reproduce these elements, resulting in a lack of individual character. According to the defendant, the community designs are thus invalid. Even If the plaintiff's designs should be valid, the defendant argues that its bicycle deviates sufficiently. The defendant argues that the plaintiff has sought protection for more or less similar designs in the multiple design registration. Apparently, the plaintiff believes that these designs differ enough to create a different overall impression. The defendant's bicycles deviate just as much, thus creating a different overall impression (the so-called doctrine of equivalents argument). The question arises: are the plaintiff's bicycles valid designs despite comprising known aspects from various bicycles, or does the defendant's design exhibit sufficient deviation, thereby enabling the invocation of the doctrine of equivalents concerning the multiple design registration? The court determines that designers of children's bicycles enjoy considerable freedom in their designs. Consequently, if another bicycle lacks significant distinctions, it will quickly evoke a similar overall impression for the informed user, thereby lacking individual character. The comparison is drawn between the new design (the AMIGO bicycles from T.O.M.) and an older existing design (bicycle). To prove that a design is not new, you cannot, as Prijskiller (the defendant) asserts, mosaic together various elements. Therefore, as a defendant, you cannot argue that a design is not new because its characteristics are present in various different products (see also the judgment Karen Millen). If, as a designer, you combine different aspects from multiple designs for the first time into a new product, then this is simply a new and valid design. This is the case with the AMIGO bicycle. The design is upheld as valid. The AMIGO Magic bicycle features a unique tubular frame, rendering it novel. The bicycle is further distinguished by the name MAGIC, the chain guard design, and accessories such as a basket, handlebar streamers, and doll seat. Prijskiller contends that its frame shape differs (being thicker) and that the drawings are positioned differently. Additionally, Prijskiller highlights the distinct color scheme; however, TOM has registered the designs in line drawings, thus disregarding this element in the evaluation. Nevertheless, several similarities are apparent. Both bicycles exhibit an almost identical pattern of butterflies and flowers, positioned nearly identically on the frame. Furthermore, the name MAGIC is depicted in the same font and placement on the chain guard. Consequently, this bicycle fails to evoke a different overall impression for the informed user. The designer's extensive creative freedom in designing children's bicycles means that the differences highlighted by Prijskiller are minor and inconspicuous. Prijskiller's invocation of the doctrine of equivalents is likewise dismissed. The court opines that this case pertains to models concurrently deposited by T.O.M. This circumstance precludes the invocation of the "doctrine of equivalents" because, in compliance with the regulations regarding novelty, individual character, and the grace period, the various models cannot diminish each other's novelty or individual character, nor their scope of protection. In essence, in simultaneous (multiple) deposits, the "doctrine of equivalents" holds little significance. Consequently, these 2Cycle Magic bicycles fail to impart a different overall impression for the informed user. The designer's extensive freedom in designing children's bicycles and the minor differences highlighted by Prijskiller render the infringement claim upheld.