Raffles – 5 shining stars?

RafflesRaffles is a luxury hotel in Singapore with a the reputation that goes far beyond the borders of Singapore. Meanwhile Raffles has some scattered locations around the world. Oddly enough in Europe only 1 hotel is connected to the Raffles empire: hotel Royal Monceau, with the caption Raffles Paris.

Raffles has protected its logo and name by means of several registrations in the European Union. In an application for revocation, filed against five Raffles trademarks by Arose limited) the question was whether the Raffles trademarks have been put in use in the EU.

Raffles defended itself with an impressive package of evidence. The OHIM recently came to a decision. With varying success for Raffles, but with some interesting considerations.

For example, the use of trademark Raffles occurred by travel agencies in the UK who offered package tours to Raffles Singapore.  This constitutes use according to the OHIM as this is done with the permission of Raffles. Considering the luxurious segment and number of bookings at the French Raffles hotel the OHIM finds sufficient evidence for the use of these trademarks. With the remark that the caption “Raffles Paris” clearly refers to the origin of the hotel.

However, the evidence shows use of the mark for the services of a hotel, not for other services such as consultancy or cleaning, services which are not offered “standalone”. This also applies to goods in class 16 such as pens and printing. The OHIM says that these items are gifts/merchandise and are not produced by the hotel itself. Therefore the mark loses its commercial raison d’être and this does not constitute use.

So, at the end Raffles wins the cases but loses a large part of its classes that were covered by the registrations.

Arnaud Bos

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