IEF 20136

EUIPO Board of Appeal bevestigt ongeldigheid vijf modelregistraties waterballonvullers Tinnus

EUIPO Board of Appeal 1 juli 2021, 5 juli 2021, IEF 20136, IEFbe 3263; (Tinnus Enterprises tegen Mystic Products en Koopman International) Het volgende hoofdstuk in de waterballonsaga. Op 2 juni 2019 sprak The Boards of Appeal de ongeldigheid uit van de modelregistratie van Tinnus voor één van de modellen voor een waterballonvuller (fluid distribution equipment), omdat alle kenmerken van het model uitsluitend door de technische functie zijn bepaald. Die uitspraak werd bevestigd door het Gerecht van de Europese Unie [IEF 19589]. In het daarop volgende appel bij het Hof van Justitie van de Europese Unie van 5 mei 2021 [IEF 19961] werd Tinnus Enterprises niet-ontvankelijk verklaard. The Boards of Appeal bevestigt nu om diezelfde reden de ongeldigheid van 5 overeenkomstige registraties voor het ontwerp van een waterballonvuller, geregistreerd door Tinnus. De DOCERAM-uitspraak van het HvJ EU wordt wederom toegepast [IEF 17542 en zie ook IEF 17701 en IEF 18001] waarin de ‘multiplicity of forms’ theorie is afgewezen en bevestigt dat het bestaan van technische alternatieven niet betekent dat het model niet technisch is bepaald. Zie ook [IEF 18538, IEFbe 2904].

47.  (..) Finally, as regards the design holder’s allegation that there are various shapes and arrangements for the designer to choose, it is noted that the mere fact that a  design alternative exists does not mean that a product’s appearance has been dictated by anything other than technical considerations (08/03/2018, C-395/16, DOCERAM, EU:C:2018:172, § 32). It is true that, in principle, design alternatives do exist as concern the size, shape and position of these features. Nevertheless, these alternative designs can equally be solely dictated by technical function, for instance the different length of the tubes is intended to prevent crowding and to accommodate  a  larger  number  of  balloons  (patent  application [0108]). Notwithstanding, in the case at hand, it must also be taken into account that the features and the way that they are designed resulted exclusively from the technical function of the product concerned. The main concerns during their development were technical, not visual. 

48.   (..) The designer mainly referred to the possibility of alternative designs and alleged a ‘simple, clean and elegant appearance’ of the design without any further elaboration on the contested RCD’s visual aspects. Mere statements such as ‘aesthetic considerations play a role in the design of products which are intended for sale directly to the end consumer’ or that ‘the overall design shown in the  RCD is of an elongate shape, with a length that is approximately four times as long as its width [thereby giving] to the design a very simple, clean and elegant appearance’ (witness statement point 4 and 8, respectively) does not change the fact that the features are still the result of the product’s technical function and do not suffice to demonstrate that aesthetic considerations were relevant.

49. As to the design holder’s contention that the contested decision incorrectly took into account the design holder’s other RCDs, the Board notes that the Invalidity Division was fully entitled to also take these into account given that, for the purpose of determining whether Article 8(1) CDR applies, as noted above, all of the relevant objective circumstances of the case must be taken into account. One of these circumstances, in the present case, is the information about the design that can be derived from the design holder’s other registrations for the same product.