Italy: Il TUE Nega La Registrabilità Come Marchi Tridimensionali Delle Borse Di Bottega Veneta

Last Updated: 14 May 2013
Article by Elena Martini

Con due sentenze dello scorso 22 marzo nelle cause T-409/10 e T-410/10, il Tribunale dell'Unione Europea ("TUE") ha confermato le decisioni della prima commissione di ricorso dell'Ufficio per l'Armonizzazione del Mercato Interno ("UAMI") con cui si negava a Bottega Veneta International Sàrl ("BV") la registrazione come marchi comunitari tridimensionali di due diverse forme di borsetta, caratterizzate l'una dalla particolare conformazione dei manici e l'altra dall'assenza di dispositivi di chiusura (i "Marchi Richiesti").

Tali decisioni erano state impugnate da BV dinanzi al TUE sulla base della pretesa violazione da parte dell'UAMI dell'articolo 7 (1)(b) e (3) del Regolamento 207/2009 sul marchio comunitario, secondo il quale "sono esclusi dalla registrazione i marchi privi di carattere distintivo", salvo il caso in cui, benchè originariamente privi di carattere distintivo, lo abbiano poi acquisito "in seguito all'uso che ne è stato fatto". In pratica, BV sosteneva: a) che i Marchi Richiesti fossero dotati di "carattere distintivo intrinseco" e b) che, in ogni caso, avessero acquistato tale distintività "in seguito all'uso prolungato ed intenso" che ne era stato fatto. In aggiunta, secondo BV l'UAMI aveva errato nel non considerare, nell'esaminare la registrabilità dei Marchi Richiesti e in particolare il loro carattere distintivo, l'aspetto intrecciato della superficie delle borse ivi riprodotte, tipico di BV.

Nelle decisioni in commento, il TUE ha respinto le argomentazioni di BV concludendo in favore dell'UAMI. In particolare, quanto all'obiezione mossa da BV sub a), il TUE ha premesso innanzitutto che, benchè i criteri per determinare il carattere distintivo dei marchi tridimensionali siano gli stessi usati per le altre categorie di marchi, in concreto può essere più difficile stabilire il carattere distintivo di un marchio tridimensionale costituito dalla forma di un prodotto, poiché "non è abitudine del consumatore medio presumere l'origine dei prodotti sulla base della loro forma in assenza di qualsivoglia elemento grafico o testuale"; in aggiunta, "più la forma della quale è richiesta la registrazione come marchio assomiglia alla forma che con ogni probabilità assumerà il prodotto, più è verosimile che tale forma sia priva del carattere distintivo". Detto questo, per determinare se la forma esteriore di una borsa possiede carattere distintivo, bisogna valutare se essa "si discosti in maniera significativa ... dalla norma o dagli usi del settore e, di conseguenza, consenta al consumatore d'individuare una borsa o borsetta corrispondente a quella riprodotta nel marchio richiesto come proveniente da un'impresa determinata, e pertanto di distinguerla da borse e borsette provenienti da altre imprese". Nel caso di specie, i giudici hanno ritenuto che le forme di cui BV ha chiesto la registrazione "non si discosta[no] in maniera significativa dalla norma o dagli usi del settore" e "non assolv[ono] la funzione essenziale di un marchio, ovvero quella di indicatore d'origine di un prodotto". Infatti, la particolare posizione dei manici di un modello e l'assenza di dispositivi di chiusura dell'altro sono state ricondotte a "semplici varianti" del prodotto abituale e non a "caratteristiche in grado di personalizzare le borse e di indicare, di per sé, un'origine commerciale precisa". Conclusione opposta, quindi, a quella del caso dell'altoparlante Bang & Olufsen di cui avevamo parlato qui in questo blog (benchè anche in quel caso la registrabilità sia stata poi negata, ma per motivi diversi).

In relazione invece all'obiezione sub b), il TUE precisa innanzitutto che "ai fini della valutazione dell'acquisizione di un carattere distintivo in seguito all'uso in un determinato caso di specie, occorre tenere conto di fattori quali, in particolare, la quota di mercato detenuta dal marchio, la frequenza, l'estensione geografica e la durata dell'uso di tale marchio, l'entità degli investimenti effettuati dall'impresa per promuoverlo, la proporzione degli ambienti interessati che identifica il prodotto come proveniente da un'impresa determinata grazie al marchio, così come le dichiarazioni di camere di commercio e d'industria o di altre associazioni professionali. Qualora, sulla base di simili elementi, gli ambienti interessati o, almeno, una parte significativa degli stessi, identifichino, grazie al marchio, il prodotto come proveniente da un'impresa specifica", si deve concludere che il marchio ha acquisito carattere distintivo grazie all'uso fattone. Nel caso di specie, il TUE ha ritenuto che BV non abbia dato prova "che almeno una quota significativa del pubblico di riferimento identifichi, grazie al marchio, i prodotti o i servizi come provenienti da un'impresa determinata": in particolare, i dati sul volume delle vendite forniti da BV dimostrerebbero solo il successo commerciale del prodotto, ma non il fatto che i consumatori percepiscono la forma dello stesso come un marchio, e non consentirebbero comunque di comprendere la quota di mercato detenuta dal prodotto; gli estratti di riviste di moda depositati da BV e raffiguranti proprie borsette simili a quelle riprodotte nei Marchi Richiesti non sarebbero idonei a dimostrare l'entità degli investimenti promozionali legati ad essi; infine, BV non ha prodotto dichiarazioni di camere di commercio, di associazioni professionali o sondaggi comprovanti che gli ambienti interessati comunemente identificano in BV l'origine dei prodotti in questione grazie alla forma oggetto di registrazione.

Quanto all'aspetto intrecciato della superficie delle due borsette, il TUE ha ritenuto che correttamente l'UAMI non ne abbia tenuto conto ai fini della valutazione del carattere distintivo dei Marchi Richiesti, posto che tale caratteristica non risultava in modo evidente dalla domanda di registrazione, mentre avrebbe dovuto essere indicata nella descrizione. Invece, rileva il TUE, "la ricorrente non ha fornito nella sua domanda di registrazione alcuna descrizione del marchio richiesto. (...) Di conseguenza, la commissione di ricorso non ha commesso alcun errore di diritto idoneo ad inficiare la legittimità della decisione impugnata allorchè ha confermato la decisione dell'esaminatore, dichiarando che non occorreva considerare, ai fini dell'esame della registrabilità di detto marchio, l'aspetto intrecciato della superficie della borsetta riprodotta nel marchio richiesto". Analoghe considerazioni il TUE ha peraltro svolto nei confronti di una rappresentazione del marchio richiesto depositata in un secondo momento da BV (sempre per tentare di allargare l'ambito di esame al motivo intrecciato), diversa da quella di cui alla domanda di registrazione e ritenuta inammissibile dal TUE a conferma di quanto deciso dall'UAMI.

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