Brands Update — April 2014: experts on national law win the lottery

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has given an important procedural judgment in a trademark cancellation case, which clarifies the ground rules for EU courts in assessing the legal arguments made before them. While welcome in that it encourages EU tribunals at all levels from Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) to the General Court (and presumably the CJEU itself), to take pains to understand the relevant national laws that apply to a case, it may also lead to an unwelcome increase in costs as more extensive evidence of national law is demanded.

The organiser of the UK’s state lottery, the National Lottery Commission (NLC) has used a logo based on crossed fingers for many years. It applied for a Community trademark (CTM), which was granted in 2007. Shortly afterwards, the registration was attacked as being invalid by two Italian entities, who claimed copyright ownership in a strikingly similar design (the mani portafortuna), which they claimed pre-dated the NLC’s logo.

The Italian entities claimed to have acquired the copyright by means of an assignment from a designer in 1986. They also claimed that some 400 T-shirts had been printed with the design and been sold around Naples in 1988…

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