European Court Notes That Using A Competitor's Trademark In An Ad Is Not Trademark Infringement

from the moron-in-a-hurry-goes-to-europe dept

We've said it probably 100 times, but trademark was never designed to be about "ownership." Rather, it's always been about consumer protection from fraud: making sure that you didn't buy one product, believing it was made by someone else. Yet, unfortunately, trademark is often lumped into the category of "intellectual property" with patents and copyright, and that falsely leads people to believe that trademarks are about ownership and, with it, full control over the mark. That leads to some really questionable situations, where companies overreach in trying to block others from using their mark. Luckily, some courts are pushing back on this. Steven Hoy writes in to let us know that a European court has ruled that there's absolutely nothing wrong with a company using a competitor's trademark in an advertisement for comparative purposes, just so long as there's no confusion on the part of the customer. This is exactly the way it should be. Hopefully, we'll start seeing European courts use the good old "moron in a hurry" test more frequently. After all, that "moron in a hurry" trademark test was a European invention in the first place.

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  1. identicon
    Tamara, Jun 14th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

    There was a similar case in Australia several years ago, but the suing party won. However that was slightly different. It was 2 battery companies. One was comparing their battery to their main competitor - they were using their top-level battery and their competitors cheapest battery, without mentioning that. Now, they still compare but say the type of battery before each one, and also have text on the screen saying the other is a cheaper battery. Which makes the ads totally pointless now that they make it clear the differences, but they still use the top-level compared to the cheap-level battery comparision.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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