IEF 10688

De weergave van dit artikel is misschien niet optimaal, omdat deze is overgenomen uit onze oudere databank.

Er was geen discretionaire bevoegdheid

Gerecht EU 16 december 2011, Zaak T-62/09 (Bernhard Rintisch tegen OHIM/Bariatrix Europe Inc. SAS), zaak T-109/09 en zaak T-152/09 (Bernhard Rintisch tegen OHIM/Valfleuri Pâtes alimentaires SA).

Gemeenschapsmerk. In drie oppositieprocedures komt aanvrager van gemeenschapswoordmerk PROTI SNACK respectievelijk PROTIVITAL en PROTIACTIVE houder van de oudere, Duitse woord- en beeldmerken PROTIPLUS, PROTI en PROTIPOWER tegen. De oppositieafdeling wijst oppositie af en Kamer van Beroep verwerpt het beroep. Ook het Gerecht EU verwerpt de actie en veroordeelt Rintisch in de kosten. Vergelijk IEF 10557 (BGH stelt vragen).

Aangevoerde middelen (en conclusie):
1. schending van artikel 8, lid 1, sub b, van verordening nr. 40/94 van de Raad, op grond dat de kamer van beroep de oppositie niet ten gronde heeft beoordeeld; (middel is niet-ontvankelijk want het is niet gericht tegen de beslissing van Board of Appeal)
2. schending van artikel 74, lid 2, van verordening nr. 40/94 van de Raad, daar de kamer van beroep heeft geweigerd, haar discretionaire bevoegdheid uit te oefenen, of althans niet heeft uiteengezet hoe zij deze heeft uitgeoefend; (er is geen discretionaire bevoegdheid; middel is ongegrond en wordt dus verworpen)
3. misbruik van bevoegdheid, aangezien de kamer van beroep door verzoeker overgelegde documenten en bewijzen niet in aanmerking heeft genomen. (geen schending door Board of Appeal)

Uit T-62/09: Niet-ontvankelijk
23 It must be held that, since the present plea alleges infringement by the Opposition Division of Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation No 40/94, it is not directed against a decision of the Board of Appeal. 
24 It follows that the present plea in law must be rejected as inadmissible.

Discretionaire bevoegdheid 
40 If the evidence to establish the existence, validity and scope of an earlier mark – which, in accordance with the new wording of Rule 20(1) of Regulation No 2868/95, applicable to the present case, cannot be taken into account by the Opposition Division when it is filed late – could nevertheless be taken into consideration by the Board of Appeal by virtue of its discretionary power under Article 74(2) of Regulation No 40/94, the legal consequence laid down expressly in Regulation No 1041/2005 for that type of deficiency, namely the rejection of the opposition, might, in certain cases, have no practical effect.
41 It must therefore be held that the Board of Appeal did not err by finding that, in the circumstances of the present case, there was a provision which prevented evidence submitted late to OHIM by the applicant from being taken into account and that, therefore, the Board of Appeal did not have any discretion under Article 74(2) of Regulation No 40/94.
45      Lastly, as regards the applicant’s arguments in relation to the judgment in Case T‑407/05 SAEME v OHIM – Racke (REVIAN’s) [2007] ECR II‑4385, it must be noted that that judgment concerned a situation in which Rule 20(1) of Regulation No 2868/95, in the version applicable to the present case, had not yet been provided for by that regulation. In addition, even if – as the applicant claims – the judgment in REVIAN’s states at paragraph 51 that the Board of Appeal is called upon to carry out a new, full examination of the merits of the opposition, such an examination does not, however, mean that, according to the case-law cited in paragraphs 31 and 32 above, the Board of Appeal may take into consideration facts or evidence submitted to the Opposition Division late where there is a provision to the contrary effect. To that end, it must be held that the Board of Appeal was correct to find, in paragraph 34 of the contested decision, that the documents filed late with the Opposition Division cannot be regarded as being lodged within the time-limits merely because an appeal has been filed (see, to that effect, OHIM v Kaul, paragraph 30 above, paragraph 61).
46      It follows that the Board of Appeal did not infringe Article 74(2) of Regulation No 40/94, in not taking into account, in the contested decision, the documents submitted late to the Opposition Division by the applicant which were intended to prove the existence and the validity of the earlier marks.
48 In the light of the foregoing, the present plea must be rejected as unfounded.

56      It follows that, since those extracts had not been translated into the language of the proceedings, the Board of Appeal was not entitled to take them into account for the purposes of proving that the earlier marks had been renewed before the date of opposition.
57      It must therefore be held that the Board of Appeal did not err in concluding, in paragraph 46 of the contested decision, that the existence and the validity of earlier marks had not been duly substantiated by the applicant and that, in the absence of such proof, it was not entitled to examine the merits of the opposition or to analyse, in particular, the existence of a likelihood of confusion between the marks at issue.