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Monday, 16 September 2013

Fresh from the press: General Court decides in KNUT trade mark dispute

Gone to soon: KNUT
This Kat is spending her coveted lunch hour (minutes...) to blog on one of her dearest topics (see earlier IPKat posts here):  the late polar bear Knut -- arguably the "first celebrity zoo animal" -- and connected trade mark issues. 

We all remember Knut's rise to stardom, from cuddly cub to famous celebrity zoo animal with a massive marketing machine (including various trade mark disputes, see my tongue in cheek article "Knut, Flocke, and Co: the bear facts revealed"; JIPLP 2008, pages 764-774, available in full here) until his untimely death at the age of four at Berlin zoo in March 2010.  Even after his death the Knut brand was still going strong as evidenced by Bloomberg Business Week's article "140 million dollar polar bear Knut."

The General Court of the European Union has now decided in one of the most controversial of the various Knut disputes: Case T-250/10 KNUT IP Management v OHIM —Zoologischer Garten Berlin (KNUT — DER EISBÄR; in English: KNUT – the polar bear). The was asked by British based KNUT IP Management Ltd to annul the decision of OHIM's First Board of Appeal of the Office of 17 March 2010 in Case R 650/2009-1.
The innocence of youth: cub Knut
By way of background: Zoologischer Garten Berlin AG had – initially only partly successfully, and on appeal to the Board of Appeal, fully successfully - opposed a Community trade mark application for ‘KNUT — DER EISBÄR’ in the name of KNUT IP Management Ltd and for goods and services in Classes 9, 16, 25, 28 and 41. Zoologischer Garten Berlin AG had based its opposition on the following KNUT trade mark portfolio: the German word mark ‘KNUD’ (sic) for goods and services in Classes 9, 16 and 28; German word mark ‘Knut — der Eisbär’ for goods and services in Classes 16, 25, 28 and 41; German word mark ‘KNUT’ for goods and services in Classes 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42 and 43; German word mark ‘KNUT’ for goods and services in Classes 16, 18, 21, 25, 28, 35, 41 and 42.   KNUT IP Management Ltd, on the other had contended an infringement of Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation 207/2009.

By today's (16 September 2013) judgment, the Court dismisses the action which Knut IP Management Ltd brought against OHIM's decision. The Court's press release 106/13 tells us a follows:

"....the Court dismisses the action which Knut IP Management Ltd brought against the decision of OHIM.

In the light of the fact that, first, the goods and services at issue are, in part, identical and, in part, similar and, secondly, that the disputed signs, considered as a whole, have major similarities as a result, inter alia, of the fact that the relevant public will remember in particular the identical beginning of the trade marks, in this case, the elements ‘knud’ and ‘knut’, OHIM could validly conclude that there does not exist, on the part of the relevant public, a sufficient difference between those signs allowing any likelihood of confusion between the earlier mark and the mark applied for to be avoided."

I somehow do not think that this was the last chapter in the Knut saga... a story that truly is a sad fable of our times.

MARQUES Class 46 posts on Knut here, here, here and here
Some Knut trade mark registrations here
Wikipedia entry on Knut here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it me or is KNUT a slightly racy TM of the FCUK variety?!

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