In its judgment of 29 March 2012, the General Court
("GC") confirmed the decision of the Office of
Harmonisation for the Internal Market (the "OHIM")
rejecting an application by You-Q BV ("You-Q") to
register the word "BEATLE" as a figurative Community
trade mark ("CTM") for electric mobility aids (Case
On 27 January 2004, You-Q filed an application with the OHIM to
register the following figurative sign as a CTM in respect of
electric mobility aids:
On 6 May 2005, Apple Corps Ltd, a corporation founded by the
members of the rock band The Beatles, ("Apple Corps")
objected to this application before the OHIM on the basis of
several earlier trade marks, including the word mark
"BEATLES" and the following figurative trade mark:
These earlier trade marks cover a very broad range of goods and
services, but not the goods for which You-Q sought to register its
By decision of 31 May 2010, based on Article 8(5) of Regulation
(EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark
(the "CTM Regulation"), the OHIM rejected You-Q's
application. The OHIM found that it was probable that You-Q would
take unfair advantage of the reputation of Apple Corps' trade
marks in view of the strong reputation of those earlier trade
marks, the similarity between the signs at issue and the overlap of
the relevant public. According to the OHIM, there was,
consequently, an important risk that detriment to Apple Corps'
trade marks would take place.
You-Q lodged an appeal before the GC against the decision of 31
May 2010, arguing that there was no proof that the CTM for which
registration was sought would affect the repute of Apple Corps'
trade marks. To find an infringement of Article 8(5) of the CTM
Regulation, the GC assessed (i) the reputation of the earlier trade
mark; (ii) the level of similarity between You-Q's sign and the
earlier trade marks; (iii) whether there is a link between the
signs in question; and (iv) whether the use of the trade mark
applied for is liable to take unfair advantage of or be detrimental
to the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade
The GC sided with the OHIM on the first aspect stating that, in
the light of all the documents and information submitted by Apple
Corps, the OHIM rightfully found that Apple Corps' trade marks
have an immense reputation for sound recordings, video recordings
and films and also have a reputation for merchandising goods.
Second, the GC found that the OHIM was also right to decide that
the signs at issue are highly similar from a visual, phonetic and
conceptual point of view notwithstanding the fact that the trade
mark applied for does not have a final 's'.
Further, the GC pointed out that the OHIM was entitled to
conclude that there is a link between the signs in question,
despite the fact that the goods at issue are not similar. The GC
based this finding on (i) the high similarity of the signs at
issue; (ii) the immense reputation of Apple Corps' trade marks;
(iii) the fact that persons with reduced mobility (i.e.,
the relevant public for the CTM applied for) are part of the
general public targeted by Apple Corps' trade marks; and (iv)
the distinctive character of those trade marks. With regard to this
last element, the GC considered that the general public in both the
English-speaking and the non-English-speaking parts of the European
Union will immediately associate the words 'beatles' and
'the beatles' with the music group and their products.
Finally, the GC decided that the OHIM was right to find that it
is probable that You-Q would take unfair advantage of the repute of
Apple Corps' trade marks by using the CTM applied for.
According to the GC, it is plausible that the relevant public would
associate the signs in question, which could lead to a transfer of
the values of Apple Corps' trade marks to the CTM for which
registration was sought by You-Q. The GC pointed out that Apple
Corps' trade marks are still, even after 50 years, associated
with youth, freedom and mobility, which is very attractive for the
relevant public of electric mobility aid products. Moreover, a part
of this public belongs to the generation that was familiar with the
goods bearing the Apple Corps' trade marks in the sixties. As a
result, the value transfer would give You-Q the possibility to
launch its CTM without bearing important costs and risks.
In conclusion, the GC upheld the earlier decision of the OHIM
refusing to register the figurative "BEATLE" sign as a
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On November 15, 2012, the German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof, "BGH") handed down an eagerly awaited landmark decision on the scope of parents' duty to monitor their children's internet activities and what measures parents have to take to prevent infringement of third parties' rights (Docket No. I ZR 74/12).