General Court overrules EUIPO in currency symbols trademark dispute

Insufficient reasons were given by the EUIPO during their refusal to register a figurative mark including the currency symbols ‘€’ and ‘$’.

Any refusal of registration of an EU trademark by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) must, in principle, be reasoned for each of the goods or services concerned, the General Court of the EU has ruled.

In a judgment published this week in Cinkciarz.pl sp. z o.o. v EUIPO, the General Court stated that although EUIPO may confine itself to providing general reasoning for all of the goods or services concerned in the case where the same ground of refusal is given for a category or group of goods or services, such an option extends only to goods and services which have a sufficiently direct and specific relationship to each other.

The case involved Polish company Cinkciarz.pl, who had requested for the EUIPO to register a figurative mark including the currency symbols ‘€’ and ‘$’ for software, financial services, including foreign exchange, and publications.

The EUIPO declined to register the sign as an EU trade mark because of its descriptive character and also because it lacked distinctive character. Cinkciarz.pl brought an action before the General Court for annulment of that decision.

According to the General Court, the general reasoning adopted by EUIPO in refusing to register the marks were not relevant for all of the goods and services concerned, as it had failed to refer to each of the goods and services covered by that sign when examining its distinctive character.

The General Court further observed that the mark applied for covered more than 80 goods and services, falling into three very different distinct classes.

However, the EUIPO confined itself to finding that all of the goods and services covered by the mark were related to foreign exchange transactions, and it was for EUIPO to provide additional reasoning for the goods and services which are not characterised as being related to foreign exchange transactions, in order to explain why registration was refused.

Since the contested decision did not contain any such additional reasoning, the General Court found that there was a failure to state reasons.