Gepubliceerd op vrijdag 18 november 2022
IEF 21094
Gerecht EU (voorheen GvEA) ||
16 nov 2022
Gerecht EU (voorheen GvEA) 16 nov 2022, IEF 21094; ECLI:EU:T:2022:710 (Epsilon Data Management tegen EUIPO),

Merk Epsilon Technologies niet vervallen

Gerecht EU 16 november 2022, IEF 21093; ECLI:EU:T:2022:710 (Epsilon Data Management tegen EUIPO) Op 18 augustus 2010 is een EU-beeldmerk ingeschreven ten behoeve van Epsilon Technologies. Op 23 mei 2019 heeft Epsilon Data Management een vordering tot vervallenverklaring ingesteld omdat het merk niet binnen een onafgebroken periode van vijf jaar normaal is gebruikt. De nietigheidsafdeling heeft het merk voor klasse 35 vernietigd, Epsilon Technologies is hiertegen in beroep gegaan. De kamer van beroep heeft de beslissing van de nietigheidafdeling vernietigd. Tegen deze beslissing is Epsilon Data Manegement in beroep gegaan met twee gronden; het bestreden merk wordt niet gebruikt in zijn ingeschreven vorm en het bestreden merk wordt niet gebruikt voor de diensten waarop het merk betrekking heeft. Het Gerecht oordeelt dat de kamer van beroep terecht heeft vastgesteld dat het bestreden merk is gebruikt in een vorm die het onderscheidend vermogen ervan niet wijzigt. Verder oordeelt het Gerecht dat het normale gebruik van het bestreden merk is bewezen voor de gehele categorie "advies inzake marktbeheer: verkoopbevordering". Het beroep van Epsilon Data Management wordt verworpen.

49. It is clear from point (a) of the second subparagraph of Article 18(1) of Regulation 2017/1001 that, for the purposes of proving use of a mark, that mark may be used in a modified form which does not alter its distinctive character, regardless of whether the proprietor of that mark has registered that modified form as a trade mark.

50. According to the case-law of the Court of Justice, the fundamental condition for genuine use of a trade mark is that, as a consequence of that use, that mark may serve to identify, in the minds of the relevant class of persons, the goods to which it relates as originating from a particular undertaking (see, to that effect, judgment of 29 November 2018, Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (International) v EUIPO, C‑340/17 P, not published, EU:C:2018:965, paragraph 59 and the case-law cited). The fact that the same sign has been used in respect of the contested mark or in respect of trade mark No 11910213 could not give rise to any difference in the minds of the relevant class of persons as regards the fact that the contested mark designated services originating from the intervener.

51. The fact that the intervener is the proprietor of a mark which is identical to the sign used must therefore be held to be irrelevant for the purposes of assessing whether the contested mark has been put to genuine use. Consequently, the applicant’s argument which is at issue must be rejected as ineffective.

52. In the light of the foregoing, it must be held that the Board of Appeal did not make any error of assessment in finding that the contested mark had, for the purposes of point (a) of the second subparagraph of Article 18(1) of Regulation 2017/1001, been used in a form which did not alter its distinctive character.

70. According to the case-law, in interpreting the concept of genuine use, account should be taken of the fact that the ratio legis of the requirement that the contested mark must have been put to genuine use is not to assess commercial success or to review the economic strategy of an undertaking, nor is it to restrict trade-mark protection to the case where large-scale commercial use has been made of the marks (see judgment of 11 April 2019, Fomanu v EUIPO – Fujifilm Imaging Germany (Representation of a butterfly), T‑323/18, not published, EU:T:2019:243, paragraph 23 and the case-law cited).

71. Consequently, it is not necessary to prove that the services provided are effective in order to prove genuine use of the mark. The applicant’s argument must therefore be rejected.

72. In the light of the foregoing, it must be held that the Board of Appeal was right in finding that genuine use of the contested mark had been proved in connection with the whole of the category of ‘market management consultancy: sales promotion’.

73. Consequently, the second part of the plea and therefore the single plea relied on in support of the present action must be rejected as unfounded and that action must thus be dismissed in its entirety as unfounded, without it being necessary to rule on the admissibility of the head of claim requesting that the Court order the revocation of the contested mark on account of its non-use.