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A Swansong for the Unofficial Souvenir Trade?

Date: 20 November 2018

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has upheld the General Court’s decision that the word mark NEUSCHWANSTEIN is not descriptive or indicative of the geographical origin of the goods and services covered by the registration.

 

At the heart of these proceedings was Neuschwanstein Castle, said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland and the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

 

The German trade association BSGE had argued that, because Neuschwanstein Castle was geographically locatable, it could be indicative of geographical origin and, therefore, the NEUSCHWANSTEIN mark was invalid.

 

However, the CJEU found that the place where the items were sold as souvenirs did not connect the goods and services covered by the NEUSCHWANSTEIN mark with Neuschwanstein Castle. The CJEU also found that the General Court had correctly regarded the goods covered by the NEUSCHWANSTEIN mark as everyday consumer goods rather than souvenir items, and that the pleasant emotions and positive connotations that the NEUSCHWANSTEIN mark and castle might evoke for the relevant public were not sufficient for the sign to constitute an indication of geographical origin.

 

Full article in Entertainment Law Review (2019) 30 Ent. L.R. 19-22

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