IP case law Court of Justice

Concept of 'use'

1 pending referral

Referral C-690/17 (ÖKO-Test Verlag, 8 Dec 2017)


14 preliminary rulings

Judgment of 25 Jul 2018, C-129/17 (Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha and Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe)

Article 5 of Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks and Article 9 of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the European Union trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a mark is entitled to oppose a third party, without its consent, removing all the signs identical to that mark and affixing other signs on products placed in the customs warehouse, as in the main proceedings, with a view to importing them or trading them in the EEA where they have never yet been marketed.

Judgment of 3 Mar 2016, C-179/15 (Daimler)

Article 5(1)(a) and (b) of Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that a third party, who is named in an advertisement on a website, which contains a sign identical or similar to a trade mark in such a way as to give the impression that there is a commercial relationship between him and the proprietor of the trade mark, does not make use of that sign that may be prohibited by that proprietor under that provision, where that advertisement has not been placed by that third party or on his behalf or, if that advertisement has been placed by that third party or on his behalf with the consent of the proprietor, where that third party has expressly requested the operator of that website, from whom the third party ordered the advertisement, to remove the advertisement or the reference to the mark contained therein.

Judgment of 16 Jul 2015, C-379/14 (TOP Logistics)

Article 5 of the First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a trade mark registered in one or more Member States may oppose a third party placing goods bearing that trade mark under the duty suspension arrangement after they have been introduced into the EEA and released for free circulation without the consent of that proprietor.

Judgment of 15 Dec 2011, C-119/10 (Frisdranken)

Article 5(1)(b) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that a service provider who, under an order from and on the instructions of another person, fills packaging which was supplied to it by the other person who, in advance, affixed to it a sign which is identical with, or similar to, a sign protected as a trade mark does not itself make use of the sign that is liable to be prohibited under that provision.

Judgment of 12 Jul 2011, C-324/09 (L’Oréal)

Where goods located in a third State, which bear a trade mark registered in a Member State of the European Union or a Community trade mark and have not previously been put on the market in the European Economic Area or, in the case of a Community trade mark, in the European Union, (i) are sold by an economic operator on an online marketplace without the consent of the trade mark proprietor to a consumer located in the territory covered by the trade mark or (ii) are offered for sale or advertised on such a marketplace targeted at consumers located in that territory, the trade mark proprietor may prevent that sale, offer for sale or advertising by virtue of the rules set out in Article 5 of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, as amended by the Agreement on the European Economic Area of 2 May 1992, or in Article 9 of Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark. It is the task of the national courts to assess on a case-by-case basis whether relevant factors exist, on the basis of which it may be concluded that an offer for sale or an advertisement displayed on an online marketplace accessible from the territory covered by the trade mark is targeted at consumers in that territory.

The operator of an online marketplace does not ‘use’ – for the purposes of Article 5 of Directive 89/104 or Article 9 of Regulation No 40/94 – signs identical with or similar to trade marks which appear in offers for sale displayed on its site.

Judgment of 8 Jul 2010, C-558/08 (Portakabin)

1. Article 5(1) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, as amended by the Agreement on the European Economic Area of 2 May 1992, must be interpreted as meaning that a trade mark proprietor is entitled to prohibit an advertiser from advertising, on the basis of a keyword identical with, or similar to, that mark, which that advertiser has selected for an internet referencing service without the consent of the proprietor, in relation to goods or services identical to those in respect of which the mark is registered, where that advertising does not enable average internet users, or enables them only with difficulty, to ascertain whether the goods or services referred to by the ad originate from the proprietor of the trade mark or from an undertaking economically linked to it or, on the contrary, originate from a third party.
2. Article 6 of Directive 89/104, as amended by the Agreement on the European Economic Area of 2 May 1992, must be interpreted as meaning that, where use by advertisers of signs identical with, or similar to, trade marks as keywords for an internet referencing service is liable to be prohibited pursuant to Article 5 of that directive, those advertisers cannot, in general, rely on the exception provided for in Article 6(1) in order to avoid such a prohibition. It is, however, for the national court to determine, in the light of the particular circumstances of the case, whether or not there was, in fact, a use, within the terms of Article 6(1), which could be regarded as having been made in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters.
3. Article 7 of Directive 89/104, as amended by the Agreement on the European Economic Area of 2 May 1992, must be interpreted as meaning that a trade mark proprietor is not entitled to prohibit an advertiser from advertising – on the basis of a sign identical with, or similar to, that trade mark, which that advertiser chose as a keyword for an internet referencing service without the consent of that proprietor – the resale of goods manufactured and placed on the market in the European Economic Area by that proprietor or with his consent, unless there is a legitimate reason, within the meaning of Article 7(2), which justifies him opposing that advertising, such as use of that sign which gives the impression that the reseller and the trade mark proprietor are economically linked or use which is seriously detrimental to the reputation of the mark.
The national court, which must assess whether or not there is such a legitimate reason in the case before it:
– cannot find that the ad gives the impression that the reseller and the trade mark proprietor are economically linked, or that the ad is seriously detrimental to the reputation of that mark, merely on the basis that an advertiser uses another person’s trade mark with additional wording indicating that the goods in question are being resold, such as ‘used’ or ‘second-hand’;
– is obliged to find that there is such a legitimate reason where the reseller, without the consent of the proprietor of the trade mark which it uses in the context of advertising for its resale activities, has removed reference to that trade mark from the goods, manufactured and placed on the market by that proprietor, and replaced it with a label bearing the reseller’s name, thereby concealing the trade mark; and
– is obliged to find that a specialist reseller of second-hand goods under another person’s trade mark cannot be prohibited from using that mark to advertise to the public its resale activities which include, in addition to the sale of second-hand goods under that mark, the sale of other second-hand goods, unless the sale of those other goods, in the light of their volume, their presentation or their poor quality, risks seriously damaging the image which the proprietor has succeeded in creating for its mark.

Judgment of 25 Mar 2010, C-278/08 (BergSpechte)

Article 5(1) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a trade mark is entitled to prohibit an advertiser from advertising, on the basis of a keyword identical with or similar to that trade mark which that advertiser has, without the consent of that proprietor, selected in connection with an internet referencing service, goods or services identical with those for which that mark is registered, in the case where that advertising does not enable an average internet user, or enables that user only with difficulty, to ascertain whether the goods or services referred to therein originate from the proprietor of the trade mark or by an undertaking which is economically connected to it or, on the contrary, originate from a third party.

Judgment of 23 Mar 2010, C-236/08 (Google)

An internet referencing service provider which stores, as a keyword, a sign identical with a trade mark and organises the display of advertisements on the basis of that keyword does not use that sign within the meaning of Article 5(1) and (2) of Directive 89/104 or of Article 9(1) of Regulation No 40/94.

Order of 19 Feb 2009, C-62/08 (UDV North America)

The concept of ‘use’ for the purpose of Article 9(1)(a) and (2)(d) of Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark covers a situation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, in which a trade intermediary, which is acting in its own name but on behalf of the vendor and is thus not an interested party in relation to trade in goods in which it is itself a contractual party, uses, in its business papers, a sign which is identical with a Community trade mark in relation to goods or services which are identical with those for which the mark is registered.

Judgment of 12 Jun 2008, C-533/06 (O2)

Article 5(1) and (2) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks and Article 3a(1) of Council Directive 84/450/EEC of 10 September 1984 concerning misleading and comparative advertising, as amended by Directive 97/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 1997, must be interpreted to the effect that the proprietor of a registered trade mark is not entitled to prevent the use by a third party of a sign identical with, or similar to, his mark, in a comparative advertisement which satisfies all the conditions, laid down in Article 3a(1) of Directive 84/450, under which comparative advertising is permitted. However, where the conditions required in Article 5(1)(b) of Directive 89/104 to prevent the use of a sign identical with, or similar to, a registered trade mark are met, a comparative advertisement in which that sign is used cannot satisfy the condition, laid down in Article 3a(1)(d) of Directive 84/450, as amended by Directive 97/55, under which comparative advertising is permitted.

Judgment of 11 Sep 2007, C-17/06 (C)

The unauthorised use by a third party of a company name, trade name or shop name which is identical to an earlier mark in connection with the marketing of goods which are identical to those in relation to which that mark was registered constitutes use which the proprietor of that mark is entitled to prevent in accordance with Article 5(1)(a) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, where the use is in relation to goods in such a way as to affect or to be liable to affect the functions of the mark. Should that be the case, Article 6(1)(a) of Directive 89/104 can operate as a bar to such use being prevented only if the use by the third party of his company name or trade name is in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters.

Judgment of 25 Jan 2007, C-48/05 (Adam Opel)

Where a trade mark is registered both for motor vehicles – in respect of which it is well known – and for toys, the affixing by a third party, without authorisation from the trade mark proprietor, of a sign identical to that trade mark on scale models of vehicles bearing that trade mark, in order faithfully to reproduce those vehicles, and the marketing of those scale models: – constitute, for the purposes of Article 5(1)(a) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, a use which the proprietor of the trade mark is entitled to prevent if that use affects or is liable to affect the functions of the trade mark as a trade mark registered for toys; – constitute, within the meaning of Article 5(2) of that directive, a use which the proprietor of the trade mark is entitled to prevent – where the protection defined in that provision has been introduced into national law – if, without due cause, use of that sign takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the trade mark as a trade mark registered for motor vehicles.

Judgment of 9 Nov 2006, C-281/05 (Montex Holdings)

Article 5(1) and (3) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks is to be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a trade mark can prohibit the transit through a Member State in which that mark is protected (the Federal Republic of Germany in the present case) of goods bearing the trade mark and placed under the external transit procedure, whose destination is another Member State where the mark is not so protected (Ireland in the present case), only if those goods are subject to the act of a third party while they are placed under the external transit procedure which necessarily entails their being put on the market in that Member State of transit.

It is in that regard, in principle, irrelevant whether goods whose destination is a Member State come from an associated State or a third country, or whether those goods have been manufactured in the country of origin lawfully or in infringement of the existing trade mark rights of the proprietor in that country.

Judgment of 7 Jan 2004, C-60/02 (Criminal proceedings against X)

Articles 2 and 11 of Council Regulation (EC) No 3295/94 of 22 December 1994 laying down measures concerning the entry into the Community and the export and re-export from the Community of goods infringing certain intellectual property rights, as amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 241/1999 of 25 January 1999, are applicable to situations in which goods in transit between two countries not belonging to the European Community are temporarily detained in a Member State by the customs authorities of that State.


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