On 25 April 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (General Court) rendered three judgments in cases initiated against decisions of the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM). In each case, the Court elaborated the rules that should be followed in the assessment of trademark distinctiveness. The decisions of OHIM withstood the Court’s scrutiny in all three cases.
A principal feature a sign needs to have in order to be registered as a trademark is - distinctiveness. This proposition follows from the essential role of trademarks in the course of trade: distinguishing goods and service of one undertaking from the goods and service of others. The most recent pronouncements by the General Court reassert some fundamental rules governing the meaning of distinctiveness.