The case started with a lawsuit by Mad Dogg, owner of the Eu mark SPINNING, against a Czech company. This company filed a revocation action with the OHIM against the European trademark SPINNING asserting that this trademark had become generic. An important condition for this revocation is of course the generic use of the mark but also that this has happened in consequence of the acts or inactivity of the owner of the mark.
The decision of the OHIM is quite interesting and a good read. First of all, the OHIM rules that it is not necessary that an European trademark must have become generic in the whole EU, a part of the EU (a country) is sufficient for revocation of the whole mark.
After assessing the piles of evidence and arguments the OHIM finds sufficient evidence of the fact that SPINNING has become a generic word. But was this a consequence of the acts or inactivity of the owner? Acts no (the owner used the mark as a trademark). Inactivity yes, according the OHIM. One of the reasons was that everyone could obtain a free license for using the mark, but a proper control of the correct use was missing (multiple examples of use showed use as verb.)
The OHIM admits that an owner cannot be required to bankrupt itself in order to maintain its rights, but some use have could be undertaken here like sending informational letters or an advertising campaign.
An interesting case which clearly shows that the popularity of a trademark can easily rise and can lead to untenable trademark rights.
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