Key Case recap- Wim Wrigley Jr Company V OHIM

Wim Wrigley Jr Company V OHIM

Wrigley applied for the trade mark ‘DOUBLEMINT’ for chewing gum. Objections were instantly raised by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (OHIM), due to DOUBLEMINT’s descriptive nature, this decision was made in contention with Article 7(1)(c) CTMR.Â

Wrigley made an appeal to the General Court, arguing that DOUBLEMINT was not exclusively descriptive and was “ambiguous and suggestive”.

The General Court noted that the term ‘DOUBLEMINT’ could allude to several meanings to a speaker of the English language. For example, double the amount of mint within the gum, or two kinds of mint within the gum. However, for a non-English speaker, the term would indeed be vague and up for interpretation. The General Court therefore concluded that the average consumer would not view DOUBLEMINT as a description of the product in question, therefore should not be refused.

Ultimately, The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that ‘DOUBLEMINT’ was indeed entirely factual and inferred that in some way the mint would be doubled. The ECJ concluded that the term would in fact be recognised and the meaning understood by the majority of the public and that the trade mark was indeed descriptive, thus DOUBLEMINT was not suitable to become a registered trade mark.

If a mark is capable of being used by a competitor to describe their goods and/or services then it cannot be registered as a trade mark, whether there is a current third party using that mark/ description at the time is irrelevant.

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