Is “iGrill” a new creation from a single, meaningless word? Or is it a neologism from the prefix “i” for interactive and the self-explanatory element “grill”? Weber Grill again loses the dispute about the well-known trademark before the European Court of Justice.
Is iGrill an interactive grill?
After the plaintiff Weber-Stephen Products LLC lost the legal dispute about the registration of the IR trademark “iGrill” in February 2018 (T-35/17, Is iGrill an interactive grill? Weber Grill cannot protect the word mark), the European Court of Justice today reached its decision on the registration of the European word mark “iGrill”. The case Weber-Stephen Products LLC (T-822/17) decided today focused on the question whether iGrill is descriptive for the class of goods applied for. These are Nice Class 9 (inter alia, computer software, mobile devices to assist persons with grilling and cooking) and Nizza Class 21 (inter alia, kitchen and grill utensils and containers; grill covers). Weber-Stephen Products claimed that the ‘iGrill’ was irrelevant in any event and, moreover, not descriptive of the classes of goods applied for, since the goods in question were not barbecues.
Trademark registration refused by EUIPO
The Board of Appeal and the Court of Justice of the European Union (Is iGrill an interactive grill? Weber Grill loses dispute over the word mark) considered that the letter “i” as a prefix referred both to the word “interactive” and to information technology and that the word “grill” referred to a cooking appliance – hence the mark applied for was descriptive of the category of goods chosen. They therefore refuse to register the mark sought.
Word mark must not be descriptive with any possible meaning
In today’s judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed this view. The CJEU stressed that consumers will divide a word mark into elements that suggest a concrete meaning to them or resemble words they know. A word mark consists entirely of letters, words or phrases – without any specific graphic element. Therefore, upper or lower case is also irrelevant in the assessment of a word mark.
Under Article 7(1)(c) of Regulation No 207/2009, a word sign must be refused registration if at least one of its possible meanings designates a characteristic of the goods or services concerned. That is the case with iGrill, since it may also mean “grill with the quality of being intelligent or using information technology”.
Weber Grill was defeated
The CJEU rejected the plaintiff Weber-Stephen’s objection that the corresponding grills had no computer interface at all and that “iGrill” was therefore by no means descriptive. The fact that the mark applied for describes a characteristic which does not – yet – exist according to the current state of the art does not preclude consumers from perceiving it as descriptive. A word mark applied for may be descriptive whether or not the goods are available on the market.
The applicant also argued that reference dictionaries from the English-speaking world had a number of meanings for the letter ‘i’ ‘i’, but that none of those meanings referred to the English words ‘interactive’, ‘intelligent’ or ‘information technology’. That objection was also rejected. The CFI stressed that the EUIPO was not obliged to provide proof, for example by means of a dictionary. The question as to whether a sign can be registered as an EU trademark must be assessed exclusively on the basis of the relevant EU legislation as interpreted by the EU judiciary. It was therefore sufficient for the Board of Appeal to take a decision based on a review of the descriptiveness as interpreted by the case-law.
Weber Grill loses with this judgement again the legal dispute for many years around the registration of the well-known mark “iGrill” as European word mark.
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