After ups and downs, the Foundation for the Protection of the Traditional Cheese of Cyprus named Halloumi has failed to stop a rival protecting the term ‘BBQloumi’.
The matter began in 2014 when the Bulgarian based company MJ Dairies, applied for an EU trade mark for the word and figurative mark, ‘BBQloumi’ for goods including cheese.
This was blocked by the Foundation on the grounds that the application conflicts with their registered trade mark for ‘Halloumi’, which has been registered since July 2000.
In the first instance, the EUIPO opposition division rejected the opposition on the basis that the mark ‘Halloumi’ held a low degree of distinctive character. The Foundation appealed the decision to both the EUIPO Board of Appeal and the EU General Court, who both upheld the rejection of the opposition.
However, when the matter was considered by the Court of Justice for the European Union, the Court had confirmed that the previous decisions had failed to properly consider the impact of the high similarity of the goods.
Due to this the CJEU pushed the case back to the General Court to re-consider.
On further reconsideration, the Foundation argued that in the EU the word element ‘BBQ’ is a synonym of ‘barbecue’, whereas the word element ‘loumi’ has no meaning other than that of an abbreviation of the term ‘Halloumi’.
However, this was rejected again by the General Court who determined that the low level of distinctiveness is key to the lack of confusion. Therefore the opposition was rejected and the application accepted for registration.
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