Miffy's sex toys

When a logo depicting a stylized rabbit's head is filed in the European Union for clothing and sex toys, Mercis objects. After all, Miffy is known worldwide for its child-friendly innocent image. Miffy has been registered as a figurative trademark in several variations for among others books and clothing, but not for sex toys. For that reason, Mercis also appeals to the notoriety of the character Miffy.

That notoriety is substantiated by numerous articles on the origins of Miffy which show that more than 85 million books have been sold worldwide in more than 50 languages, awards have been won and all kinds of products and publications on licensed use.

Initially, the trademark will be cancelled only for clothing. The trademark will remain in place for sex toys. EUIPO judges that these products are not similar and are sold through totally different distribution channels. Also, it has not been proven that Miffy is a world-famous character.

Mercis (fortunately) appeals and submits a lot of additional evidence. This time successfully. Miffy is well known, the trademarks are similar, there is a link to the well-known trademark and the use of the new trademark is detrimental to the image so carefully built up. Consequence: the trademark application is refused. (Source image: Abcor)


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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?