EU court: Trademark Office rightly declared Apple’s “Think different” to be lapsed

Swatch disputes Apple’s slogan: The brand “Think different”; still has no commercial protective effect. Apple’s lawsuits were dismissed.

 EU court: Trademark Office rightly declared Apple's

New defeat for Apple in the long-standing trademark dispute with the Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch: The EU court has dismissed the iPhone manufacturer’s complaints against the decisions of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), according to which the word mark “Think different” ; ceased to have industrial property rights as of October 14, 2016.

The Luxembourg judges ruled in Wednesday’s judgment in joined cases T-26/21, T-27/21 and T-28/21 dem EUIPO and the intervener Swatch right. In 2016, the watch manufacturer had the word mark “Think different” expire at the European trademark office. requested. He claimed that the associated Apple trademarks for computers, terminals, keyboards, hardware, software and multimedia products had not been put to genuine use for the goods in question for an uninterrupted period of five years.

Apple’s lawsuits failed

The cancellation department of the EUIPO then declared the contested trademarks for all products from October 14, 2016 to have expired. Apple, on the other hand, raised complaints with the office. However, the competent chamber did not consider this to be permissible. In January 2021, the Californian group therefore filed three lawsuits with the EU court.

In their decision, the judges now state that Apple before the EUIPO seriously used the trademarks for the goods concerned in the five years prior to the date of filing for foreclosure applications, i.e. October 14, 2011 to October 13, 2016. This was not done credibly.

In the opinion of the court, Apple did not show that the EUIPO Board of Appeal did not sufficiently take into account the high degree of attention of the relevant public when assessing genuine use of the contested marks. The US company had questioned the auditors’ announcement that consumers would read the labels with “Think different”. easily overlooked on the packaging of an iMac computer.

The judges also rejected Apple’s complaint that the Board of Appeal wrongly ignored the alleged sales figures for iMacs across the EU. According to them, the annual reports for the years 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2015 attached to this declaration only contained information on the worldwide net sales of the computers, but no further details on the EU.

Swatch v. Apple

Contrary to Apple’s assertion, the Board of Appeal did not “have any distinctive character” in the disputed expression. agreed, but these as “rather weak” classified, according to the court. The group did not refute this assessment: Press articles presented as evidence that point to the success of the advertising campaign “Think different” when they were introduced in 1997, all were from a period “more than ten years before the relevant period”. The EUIPO gave sufficient legal reasons for its decisions, and the trademark owner’s right to be heard was preserved.

Apple can still appeal the judgment to a limited extent to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) within two months and ten days after delivery. put in However, this step would require prior approval, for which the plaintiff would have to raise important unanswered questions.

In 2019, the Californians were already in action with their lawsuit against Swatch’s trademark entry “Tick different” failed at the Swiss Federal Administrative Court. Here, too, the judge stated that Apple had only proven that “Think different” was also known in Switzerland at the time of an advertising campaign at the end of the 1990s. For the period after 2006, this was no longer verifiable.

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