Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2014 position: 22

Irrevocable consent — it’s not forever

A trademark owner cannot be prevented from withdrawing consent to a third party’s use of the identical trademark in relation to identical/similar goods and services.

This arose from a referral from the Belgian Court of Cassation to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in a case where a trademark owner withdrew its consent to the use of its trademark by a third party. Consent was withdrawn after the third party had been using the trademark for a number of years, and the Belgian Court sought guidance as to whether the trademark owner was free to re-assert its exclusive right to use of the trademark in these circumstances.

The court referred two main questions to the CJEU: can a registered trademark owner assert its exclusive trademark rights to prevent the use of that trademark by a third party, where the ownership of that trademark has effectively been shared by the parties over a number of years, and where the trademark owner granted its irrevocableconsent to use of that mark by that third party; and is any national law permissible that would prevent the trademark owner from asserting its trademark rights against the third party, e.g. unfair competition rules? …

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