6 February 2019Trademarks

EU court rejects dating app’s appeals

The EU General Court today dismissed two trademark appeals from the owner of a dating app.

In two decisions handed down on February 6, the General Court affirmed findings from the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO) Fifth Board of Appeal that two trademarks applied for by  Marry Me Group, a software company based in Switzerland, were descriptive.

In October 2016, Marry Me Group applied for two trademarks: the word sign ‘Marry Me’ and a logo featuring the words ‘Marry Me’ below two intertwined hearts. The word sign covered classes 9 (software), 38 (online chat room services) and 45 (dating services), while the logo only covered classes 9 and 45.

Those trademark applications were refused by an examiner in March 2017. The Swiss company appealed against the refusals, but in March last year, the EUIPO again rejected the applications.

In March 2018, the Fifth Board of Appeal concluded that the trademarks directly described the nature and destination of the goods and services concerned.

The board added that, as a whole, the term "marry me" meant that all of the claimed goods and services were for the purpose of matching partners and that the addition of the figurative elements in the logo simply symbolised the purely descriptive message of “marry me”.

Marry Me Group appealed against the decisions, but today the General Court sided with the EUIPO, ordering the Swiss company to pay costs and rejecting its appeals.

The General Court rejected Marry Me Group’s contention that there was no sufficiently direct and concrete relationship between the impression from the marks and the goods and services applied for.

In coming to its conclusion, the court said that the appeal board was correct in finding that the relevant public will understand the word element to mean “marry me” and that the figurative element of two hearts fused together accentuates this.

Turning to class 9, the court found that the public concerned would “immediately and without further reflection” establish a relationship between the applied-for marks and the dating software included in the software categories covered by the mark.

The court came to similar conclusions for both classes 38 and 45.

“It follows from the foregoing that the mark applied for, taken as a whole, presents, from the point of view of the target public, a sufficiently direct and concrete relationship with the goods and services to which it refers,” added the court.

Marry Me Group also argued that the German Patent and Trademark Office had registered the figurative mark, in support of its case.

However, the General Court noted that the registrability of the applied-for trademarks must be assessed in the light of an English-speaking public, and not a German-speaking public as had been the case when the German trademark was assessed.

Finally, the court rejected Marry Me Group’s arguments that the trademarks were sufficiently distinctive.

The decisions can be found  here and  here.

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