Amsterdam University, descriptive mark?

The Benelux trade mark office can refuse a trademark if it feels that this is descriptive. This decision can be appealed at the Benelux Court of Appeal. In the past ten years the Court of Appeal in The Hague has almost always followed the line of the BOIP, but at its latest decision from December 2018, the BOIP is suddenly overuled. A sign of hope for the future?

The UvA (University of Amsterdam) applies for protection in 2016 for the word mark AMSTERDAM UNIVERSITY. The trademark is not only refused by the Benelux authorities for educational services, but also for all kinds of merchandise items (such as coffee mugs, sweaters, etc.). These articles are in fact available at the UvA. The UvA offers these articles for sale in a souvenir shop or as giving them away at times. The Court partly disagrees with this refusal. In an earlier judgment on Neuschwanstein Castle, the European Court of Appeal had to rule about trademark use for souvenirs. By trademarking souvenirs, the product doesn’t suddenly become descriptive. Consequence: the trademark is not valid for educational services, but for merchandise items it is. For organizations active in merchandising (such as city marketing organizations) this ruling is a gift from heaven. (source image: Moon)


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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