The Onel-case: the pleadings

Today is an important day for EU-trademark owners. And an important day for Onel trademarks, Knijff Trademark Attorneys’ sister company. This morning in Luxembourg, Onel trademarks is pleading their case before the European Court of Justice.

As you may know, the case revolves around a very important question, a question that hasn’t been answered yet by the highest European Court: does use in one country suffice to maintain the rights on a EU-trademark?

The case is very interesting: legally the European Union is considered, well, a union: one single territory. When a trademark owner is obligated to use its trademark cross-border, this goes against the unitary character of the European Union.

However, with the trademark register filling up more and more everyday, it is becoming increasingly difficult for trademark owners to register that one unique trademark. Some say it is unfair for a small business in, say, Malta to use their EU-trademark only locally and with this keeping it occupied for the remaining 26 countries of EU.

The case started with the Benelux Trademark Office rendering a decision in which it decided that use of European trademark in one country (more precisely the European trademark ONEL) does not constitute use of a European trademark per se. As Onel trademarks did not agree with this opinion, they filed an appeal. In this appeal procedure, the Court of The Hague asked the ECJ for clarification.

The outcome of this case is potentially groundbreaking. If the ECJ decides that a EU-trademark has to be used ‘cross-border’, this may mean that companies that only use their EU-trademark nationally, will see their precious trademark vulnerable for cancellation.

An exciting day for the parties in question. An exciting future for IP. is present to witness the event and will of course keep you informed about this exciting case!

You can find all information about the Onel-case here.

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Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”



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