The General Court of the European Union has recently affirmed a decision by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), formerly known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), to refuse soft-drinks giant Coca-Cola’s application for a European Union trade mark registration for the three-dimensional shape of a bottle.  The company applied for the trade mark in 2011, and it was first rejected in 2013.

Bottle Lacks Distinctive Character

The bottle shape submitted for trade mark protection is wide in the middle and at the bottom but narrow at the top.  Apart from this shape, the design of the bottle is plain and described as a “contour bottle without fluting”; unlike Coca-Cola’s famous fluted (or grooved) bottle.  The application covers glass, metallic and plastic bottles.  The company said that the new shape should be treated as a “natural evolution” of their iconic fluted bottle.

Coca-Cola appealed the initial decision to reject the application, taking the case to the EUIPO’s Second Board of Appeal – where the rejection was upheld.  The company then appealed to the General Court, saying that the bottle shape had acquired distinctiveness through use and would be recognised as their product by consumers.

The General Court, hearing the appeal, however, said that Coca-Cola had failed to demonstrate that the shape was sufficiently distinguishable from other similar soft drink bottles on the market and the shape alone was not enough to enable consumers to identify it as a Coca-Cola product.

Following the General Court’s decision, the company has two months in which to appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union on points of law alone.

Trade Mark Expertise at SH&P

At Stevens Hewlett & Perkins, our trade mark attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you apply for trade marks in the UK, Europe and beyond.  We work with a wide range of clients – from large corporations to individual inventors – to help protect intellectual property and secure a commercial advantage.

Our aim is to give you advice that suits your circumstances and your goals, working with you to ensure that you have the best chance of getting the protection you need.  Your initial consultation is completely free, so why not book an appointment with us today?