Brands Update — April 2014: Kornspitz — with or against the grain?

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has handed down its judgment in the KORNSPITZ revocation case, reminding brand owners that marks must act as badges of origin for the ultimate consumer of the goods, rather than intermediaries, and also of the care they are well advised to exercise with respect to their most valuable assets.

The proprietor, Backaldrin, sells a baking mix under the KORNSPITZ mark primarily to bakers, who turn that mix into a certain type of bread roll that consumers also refer to as KORNSPITZ. The CJEU characterised it as ‘oblong in shape and with a point at both ends’, but consulting Backaldrin’s website and Google image search might give a better idea of the product. While Backaldrin’s competitors and the majority of bakers are very well aware of KORNSPITZ being a registered trademark, there was some doubt if consumers were. It appears that Austrian bakers, keen on their carefully cultivated artisan image, were rather reluctant to inform their customers that they were buying bread rolls made from a ready mix…

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