In August, oriGIn requested to intervene before the General Court of the EU in support of the position of Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (Comité Champagne) and Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO), in case T-239/23 (against the decision of the Second Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, EUIPO, in case R 531/2022-2).
The case started in 2019, with the company Nero Hotels filing an application for the registration of the word mark “NERO CHAMPAGNE” (EUTM No 018024731) in respect of goods and services falling under Class 32, 33, 35, 41 and 43. Comité Champagne and INAO filed an opposition on the basis of Article 8(6) EUTMR, in conjunction with Article 103(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013. The EUIPO Opposition Division considered that the contested trade mark application had to be rejected for “sales, retailing and wholesaling, online sale in shops of beer and non-alcoholic beverages” in Class 35. On appeal, the case was referred to the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal. On the one hand, the Board considered that the contested trade mark application had to be rejected also for “advertising; business management; business administration; office functions” in Class 35. On the other hand, it agreed with the Opposition Division that the contested trade mark could be registered for “wine complying with the specifications of the protected designation of origin ‘Champagne’” in Class 33, the remaining contested services in Class 35 (namely “sale, retailing and wholesaling, online sale and sale in shops of wine bearing the protected designation ‘Champagne’”) and all the contested services in Class 41, which are equally limited to products “bearing the protected designation of origin ‘Champagne’”. On the case, see also Ginevra Righini’s presentation, delivered during the Informal Legal Session of our 2023 Biennial Meeting.
Key issues at stake
The T-239/23 case concerns a crucial aspect of EUIPO’s practice with respect of trade mark applications containing GIs protected in the EU, which has been firmly contested by oriGIn: the possibility of limiting such applications to goods in conformity with the corresponding GIs, even when the applications concern sale and advertising services (on this, see our comments to the 2023 EUIPO trade mark guidelines).
Intervention in GC case
In light of this, oriGIn decided to request to intervene before the General Court of the EU to support Comité Champagne’s and INAO’s position, arguing it has a direct interest in the outcome of the dispute in its capacity as global GI alliance and in light of its objective to better protect GIs internationally. On 29 September, the General Court granted oriGIn leave to intervene in Case T-239/23. This represents a positive precedent for GIs, showing as well oriGIn’s potential in supporting members in enforcement cases.