“Dr. No” versus “Dr. NO” – the decision

A recent EU court case has ruled that a 2001 trade mark “Dr. NO” registered by Mission Productions does not conflict with the 1962 film “Dr. No”, part of the James Bond film franchise, one of the most famous film franchises ever.

Danjaq, the company currently in possession of the James Bond franchise, felt that the brand of “Dr. NO” represented an infringement of trade mark laws. They appealed to the EU Court of First Instance (CFI) in Brussels after the Office for the Harmonisation of Internal Markets felt his claim was invalid. Danjaq claimed that the Dr. No trade mark had been used for a number of goods such as video cassettes and posters and therefore the mark should be refused.

However, despite the obvious similarity of the two names, the CFI rejected its claim as they said the film title is an indication of artistic and not commercial origin. They also said that just because the brand of Dr. No was used in connection with film-associated goods, it did not mean that it has been used in a trade mark sense. As “Dr. No” had not been used in a commercial context before the application of “Dr. NO” as a brand name, Dr. No cannot be considered a well-known trade mark.

Following this, the court dismissed the case and allowed Mission Productions to continue its manufacture of “Dr. NO” goods.

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