If you use a name for a company in the course of trade then this name is (generally speaking) protected as a company name. The protection itself depends on the laws of that country. In the Netherlands it is not allowed to use a company name that is confusingly similar to an other. However, there is no provision in the law (other than the general article of tort) to act against a trademark on the basis of a company name.
Protecting your company name as a trademark is therefore a clever thing to do as you obtain an exclusive right. Moreover, you can include products and services in the specification that may be relevant in the future.
So, a trademark can be crucial. The French company Laguiole will understand this now. This company opposed an European trademark LAGUIOLE for various products and services, based on their company name. At first, the EUIPO rendered a positive decision with a broad rejection of the trademark LAGUIOLE. However, the Court of First Instance was of the opinion that the protection of the company name only could rely on the actual activities by the company and not for other goods which do not correspond to those activities.A quite narrow protection thus. The ECJ know confirms this point of view which results in a rejection of LAGUIOLE for only limited products.
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