IP case law Court of Justice

Proof of genuine use

Articles 15, 42 and 51 CTM Regulation
Articles 10 to 12 Directive 2008/95

13 preliminary rulings


Judgment of 8 Jun 2017, C-689/15 (W. F. Gözze Frottierweberei)

Article 15(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the European Union trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the affixing of an individual EU trade mark, by the proprietor or with his consent, on goods as a label of quality is not a use as a trade mark that falls under the concept of ‘genuine use’ within the meaning of that provision. However, the affixing of that mark does constitute such genuine use if it guarantees, additionally and simultaneously, to consumers that those goods come from a single undertaking under the control of which the goods are manufactured and which is responsible for their quality. In that case, the proprietor of the mark is entitled to prevent, pursuant to Article 9(1)(b) of that regulation, the affixing by a third party of a similar sign on identical goods, if that affixing creates a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

Judgment of 21 Dec 2016, C-654/15 (Länsförsäkringar)

Article 9(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the [European Union] trade mark, read in conjunction with Articles 15(1) and 51(1)(a) of that regulation, must be interpreted as meaning that, during the period of five years following registration of an EU trade mark, its proprietor may, if there is a likelihood of confusion, prevent third parties from using in the course of trade a sign identical or similar to his mark in respect of all goods and services identical or similar to those for which that mark has been registered without having to demonstrate genuine use of that mark in respect of those goods or services.1 Language of the case: Swedish.

Judgment of 18 Jul 2013, C-252/12 (Specsavers)

Article 15(1) and Article 51(1)(a) of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the condition of ‘genuine use’, within the meaning of those provisions, may be fulfilled where a Community figurative mark is used only in conjunction with a Community word mark which is superimposed over it, and the combination of those two marks is, furthermore, itself registered as a Community trade mark, to the extent that the differences between the form in which that trade mark is used and that in which it was registered do not change the distinctive character of that trade mark as registered.

Judgment of 18 Apr 2013, C-12/12 (Colloseum)

The condition of genuine use of a trade mark, within the meaning of Article 15(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark, may be satisfied where a registered trade mark, which has become distinctive as a result of the use of another composite mark of which it constitutes one of the elements, is used only through that other composite mark, or where it is used only in conjunction with another mark, and the combination of those two marks is, furthermore, itself registered as a trade mark.

Judgment of 19 Dec 2012, C-149/11 (Leno Merken (ONEL))

Article 15(1) of Regulation No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the territorial borders of the Member States should be disregarded in the assessment of whether a trade mark has been put to ‘genuine use in the Community’ within the meaning of that provision. A Community trade mark is put to ‘genuine use’ within the meaning of Article 15(1) of Regulation No 207/2009 when it is used in accordance with its essential function and for the purpose of maintaining or creating market share within the European Community for the goods or services covered by it. It is for the referring court to assess whether the conditions are met in the main proceedings, taking account of all the relevant facts and circumstances, including the characteristics of the market concerned, the nature of the goods or services protected by the trade mark and the territorial extent and the scale of the use as well as its frequency and regularity.

Judgment of 25 Oct 2012, C-553/11 (Rintisch)

Article 10(2)(a) 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 registered trade mark is not precluded from relying, in order to establish use of the trade mark for the purposes of that provision, on the fact that it is used in a form which differs from the form in which it was registered, without the differences between the two forms altering the distinctive character of that trade mark, even though that different form is itself registered as a trade mark.

Article 10(2)(a) of Directive 89/104 must be interpreted as precluding an interpretation of the national provision intended to transpose it into domestic law whereby Article 10(2)(a) does not apply to a ‘defensive’ trade mark which is registered only in order to secure or expand the protection of another registered trade mark that is registered in the form in which it is used.

Judgment of 15 Jan 2009, C-495/07 (Silberquelle)

Articles 10(1) and 12(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, where the proprietor of a mark affixes that mark to items that it gives, free of charge, to purchasers of its goods, it does not make genuine use of that mark in respect of the class covering those items.

Judgment of 9 Dec 2008, C-442/07 (Verein Radetzky-Orden)

Article 12(1) 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 construed as meaning that a trade mark is put to genuine use where a non-profit-making association uses the trade mark, in its relations with the public, in announcements of forthcoming events, on business papers and on advertising material and where the association’s members wear badges featuring that trade mark when collecting and distributing donations.

Judgment of 14 Jun 2007, C-246/05 (Lidl)

The ‘date of the completion of the registration procedure’ within the meaning of Article 10(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 determined in each Member State in accordance with the procedural rules on registration in force in that State.

Article 12(1) of Directive 89/104 must be interpreted as meaning that obstacles having a direct relationship with a trade mark which make its use impossible or unreasonable and which are independent of the will of the proprietor of that mark constitute ‘proper reasons for non-use’ of the mark. It is for the national court or tribunal to assess the facts in the main proceedings in the light of that guidance.

Judgment of 30 Mar 2006, C-259/04 (Emanuel)

A trade mark corresponding to the name of the designer and first manufacturer of the goods bearing that mark is not, by reason of that particular feature alone, liable to revocation on the ground that that mark would mislead the public, within the meaning of Article 12(2)(b) of Directive 89/104, in particular where the goodwill associated with that mark has been assigned together with the business making the goods to which the mark relates.

Judgment of 29 Apr 2004, C-371/02 (Björnekulla)

Article 12(2)(a) of the First Council Directive of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks should be interpreted as meaning that in cases where intermediaries participate in the distribution to the consumer or the end user of a product which is the subject of a registered trade mark, the relevant classes of persons whose views fall to be taken into account in determining whether that trade mark has become the common name in the trade for the product in question comprise all consumers and end users and, depending on the features of the market concerned, all those in the trade who deal with that product commercially.

Order of 27 Jan 2004, C-259/02 (La Mer Technology)

Articles 10(1) and 12(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 there is genuine use of a trade mark where it is used in accordance with its essential function, which is to guarantee the identity of the origin of the goods or services for which it is registered, in order to create or preserve an outlet for those goods or services; genuine use does not include token use for the sole purpose of preserving the rights conferred by that mark. When assessing whether use of the trade mark is genuine, regard must be had to all the facts and circumstances relevant to establishing whether the commercial use of the mark is real in the course of trade, particularly whether such use is viewed as warranted in the economic sector concerned to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark, the nature of those goods or services, the characteristics of the market and the scale and frequency of use of the mark. When it serves a real commercial purpose, in the circumstances cited above, even minimal use of the mark or use by only a single importer in the Member State concerned can be sufficient to establish genuine use within the meaning of the Directive.

While First Directive 89/104 makes the classification of use of the trade mark as genuine use consequential only on consideration of the circumstances which pertain in respect of the relevant period and which predate the filing of the application for revocation, it does not preclude, in assessing the genuineness of use during the relevant period, account being taken, where appropriate, of any circumstances subsequent to that filing. It is for the national court to determine whether such circumstances confirm that the use of the mark during the relevant period was genuine or whether, conversely, they reflect an intention on the part of the proprietor to defeat that claim.

Judgment of 11 Mar 2003, C-40/01 (Ansul)

Article 12(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 there is genuine use of a trade mark where the mark is used in accordance with its essential function, which is to guarantee the identity of the origin of the goods or services for which it is registered, in order to create or preserve an outlet for those goods or services; genuine use does not include token use for the sole purpose of preserving the rights conferred by the mark. When assessing whether use of the trade mark is genuine, regard must be had to all the facts and circumstances relevant to establishing whether the commercial exploitation of the mark is real, particularly whether such use is viewed as warranted in the economic sector concerned to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark, the nature of the goods or services at issue, the characteristics of the market and the scale and frequency of use of the mark. The fact that a mark that is not used for goods newly available on the market but for goods that were sold in the past does not mean that its use is not genuine, if the proprietor makes actual use of the same mark for component parts that are integral to the make-up or structure of such goods, or for goods or services directly connected with the goods previously sold and intended to meet the needs of customers of those goods.

It is for the national court to draw the consequences for the resolution of the dispute before it of the interpretation of the Community law concept of genuine use of the trade mark given in the reply to the first question referred for a preliminary ruling. Rodríguez Iglesias Puissochet Wathelet Timmermans Gulmann La Pergola Jann Skouris Macken Colneric von Bahr

18 appeals


Judgment of 11 Oct 2017, C-501/15 (OHIM v Cactus)


Judgment of 4 May 2017, C-71/16 (Comercializadora Eloro v OMHI)


Judgment of 16 Feb 2017, C-577/14 (Brandconcern)


Judgment of 1 Dec 2016, C-642/15 (Klement v OHIM)


Order of 26 Oct 2016, C-575/15 (Inditex v OHIM)


Order of 6 Sep 2016, C-237/14 (Lidl Stiftung)


Order of 6 Sep 2016, C-224/14 (Lidl Stiftung)


Order of 16 Jun 2016, C-611/15 (L Oréal v OHIM)


Judgment of 17 Mar 2016, C-252/15 (Naazneen Investments v OHIM)


Order of 14 Jan 2015, C-57/14 (Recaro)


Judgment of 12 Dec 2013, C-445/12 (Rivella International)


Judgment of 26 Sep 2013, C-610/11 (Centrotherm Systemtechnik v OHIM)


Order of 29 Mar 2012, C-334/11 (Lancôme - FOCUS)


Order of 16 Sep 2010, C-559/08 (Deepak Rajani - ATOZ)


Judgment of 13 Sep 2007, C-234/06 (Il Ponte Finanziaria - BAINBRIDGE)


Judgment of 26 Apr 2007, C-412/05 (Alcon - TRAVATAN)


Order of 24 Apr 2007, C-131/06 (Castellblanch)


Judgment of 11 May 2006, C-416/04 (Sunrider - Vitafruit)