The logo on the left is one of best known examples of successful city marketing. Of course, the New York State Department of Economic Development, the responsible authority, has registered this logo as a trademark, for example in the EU.
But is it a valid trademark?, wondered the German company Minerva. Probably, this company has plans to use the logo, but has been confronted with the trademark of the city of New York.
In an invalidity action, the company disputed the trademark on two grounds: firstly, the logo lacks distinctive character in view of the meaning and usual visual symbol used. On the other hand this logo has become a general term to describe the popularity of New York or any other city with the I love-symbol.
New York City of course defends its trademarks and files a response. One of the arguments is that the logo has gained a place at the MoMA, the leading Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The OHIM takes the two grounds for invalidation into consideration and is of the opinion that the trademark is sufficiently distinctive “due to the visual appearance derived from the overall impression produced by the composition and stylisation of the verbal and figurative elements”. Especially the typeface and the characteristic square are mentioned as remarkable elements. Moreover, OHIM does not see sufficient evidence to rule that the logo has become customary: much of the evidence is undated or not dated before the filing of the application and does not proof hard evidence. So, the registration of the logo survives the attack. Good news for all New York lovers.
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