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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 May 2009

Business: European Court Rules in Favour Of South African Trade Mark


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Leanne Mostert, a partner in the Cape Town office of Webber Wentzel, who represented Assembled Investments, commented, “On 7 May, after an almost decade long battle, the ECJ found in favour of Assembled Investments. Not only is this a great victory for South Africa, and for a South African brand but the decision also sets a global precedent. We are clearly pleased with ECJ's decision and the positive impact it will have on our client's business."
"The ECJ’s decision finally puts to bed a long disputed issue. It establishes that even where a proposed trade mark is identical or similar to an earlier mark with a particularly high distinctive character, there must still be some degree of similarity between the respective goods to establish a likelihood of confusion. Only then will the owner of an earlier mark be able to prevent the registration of a proposed similar mark on the basis of Article 8(1)(b) of the EU community trade mark regulations."
The dispute between the two companies first arose following the application by Assembled Investments to register a trade mark containing the words "Waterford Stellenbosch" for its wines in Europe.
Waterford Wedgwood argued that Assembled Investments’ mark would lead to confusion in the marketplace and opposed the trade mark application on the basis of its own community trade mark “Waterford” registered earlier in connection with, among other products, glassware including wine glasses.
Mostert says the decision also confirms the 2007 decision of the EU's Court of First Instance that wine and wine glasses are not similar products despite a certain degree of complementarily between them.
Waterford Wines has been producing award winning wines at the Waterford Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch district, near Cape Town, South Africa since 1998. Jeremy Ord, a founder of Didata is one of the owners of Waterford Wines.

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