IEFBE 2239

Woordmerk 'drivewise' beschrijvend voor Allstate Insurance

Gerecht EU 5 juli 2017, IEF 16923; IEFbe 2239; ECLI:EU:T:2017:467; T‑3/16 (Allstate tegen EUIPO) Merkenrecht. Beschrijvend karakter. Allstate heeft het woordmerk 'DRIVEWISE' gedeponeerd bij het EUIPO. Dit werd afgewezen op de grond dat het beschrijvend was voor de ingeschreven goederen en diensten. Beroep bij EUIPO werd afgewezen. Allstate vordert vernietiging van dit vonnis. Het is algemeen bekend dat bepaalde bijwoorden en bijvoeglijk naamwoorden in het Engels worden gebruikt, bijvoorbeeld de uitdrukking 'drive safe' wat wordt gezien als equivalent van 'drive safely'. Hieruit volgt dat de term 'drivewise' met betrekking tot de betrokken goederen en diensten onmiddellijk door het relevante publiek kan worden begrepen als de grammaticale correcte uitdrukking 'drive safely'. Het beroep wordt verworpen.

31. In the present case, it should be noted that, even if the Board of Appeal acknowledged, contrary to the applicant’s claims, that the term ‘drivewise’ was an invention that the relevant public might perceive in the same way as the adverbs ‘clockwise’, ‘anticlockwise’ or ‘likewise’, where the suffix ‘wise’ means ‘manner’, the fact that the neologism ‘drivewise’ may give the impression, grammatically speaking, that it is an adverb, while being a combination of a verb and an adjective, does not lead to the conclusion that the neologism is more than the sum of its parts.

32. The Board of Appeal was right to note that it was common knowledge that some adverbs and adjectives are naturally used interchangeably in English and, in particular, that the expression ‘drive safe’ will be perceived by the relevant public as the equivalent of ‘drive safely’.

33. It follows that, with regard to the goods and services at issue, the term ‘drivewise’ can immediately be understood by the relevant public as the grammatically correct expression ‘drive safely’.

34. Contrary to what the applicant claims, the association of the terms ‘drive’ and ‘wise’ is therefore not ambiguous in so far as it is common to link verbs to adjectives in English.

35. In that regard, contrary to what the applicant claims, the Board of Appeal did not disregard the fact that grammatical rules play a role in the assessment of the potential distinctive and unusual character of a trade mark. It is also improbable that the relevant public would have to take a first mental step to recognise that the element ‘wise’ has the meaning of ‘wisely’, followed by a second mental step to deduce that ‘to drive wisely’ could mean ‘to drive safely’ or ‘to drive carefully’.