IEFBE 2904

Terechte ongeldigheid modelregistratie waterballonvuller Tinnus

EUIPO Board of Appeal 2 juni 2019, IEF 18538, IEFbe 2904; R1002/2018-3 (Tinnus Enterprises tegen Mystic Products en Koopman International) Bevestigd wordt dat de Invalidity Division terecht de ongeldigheid heeft uitgesproken van de modelregistratie van Tinnus voor een waterballonvuller (fluid distribution equipment), omdat alle kenmerken van het model uitsluitend door de technische functie zijn bepaald. De DOCERAM-uitspraak van het HvJ EU wordt toegepast [IEF 17542 en zie ook IEF 17701 en IEF 18001] waarin de ‘multiplicity of forms’ theorie is afgewezen en bevestigt dat het bestaan van technische alternatieven niet betekent dat het model niet technisch is bepaald.

35 The Board agrees with the contested decision that an examination based on the earlier patent shows that all the single elements that are part of the contested RCD’s visual appearance perform a technical function. As to the design holder’s
claims based on the designer’s witness statement, as correctly noted by invalidity applicant II, the mere fact that the design concerns a product intended for sale to consumers does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that aesthetic considerations were taken into account. The fact that the design has a ‘simple and clear appearance’ similar to a ‘flower and stem’ due to the choice as to the length of the straws in relation to the length of the balloon and that the ‘proportions of the design as a whole namely the length being about 18 times the width, giving the design a sleek and elegant appearance appealing to the user’ does not change the fact that the visual aspect of the device is still the result of its technical function. The mere fact that a design alternative exists does not mean that a product’s appearance has been dictated by anything other than technical considerations (08/03/2018, C-395/16, DOCERAM, EU:C:2018:172, § 32).

36 Practically all of the design holder’s arguments concerning the features of the product are simply based on the argument that various options exist for the designer to choose from and various shapes and arrangements can be used. It is of course true that, in principle, design alternatives do exist as concern the size, shape and position of these features. However, in the case at hand it must also be taken into account that the features and the way that they are designed also secure technical effects for the product’s faultless performance. The main concerns during their development were technical, not visual.