EU court blocks 'Royal Shakespeare' drinks ... from Austria
(LUXEMBOURG) - A European court struck a blow for "Harry, England, and Saint George" Friday, denying an Austrian company the right to sell a range of drinks under the "Royal Shakespeare" label.
Austria's Jackson International Trading could not sell drinks under that name because it was profiting unduly from the international renown of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the General Court of the European Union ruled.
The Austrian company had registered the name with the European Union's trade mark service OHIM in 2003 as a trademark for a range of drinks and a catering service.
Three years later however, the RSC objected, saying it had registered the name back in 1999 and asked OHIM to cancel the Austrian firm's claim. OHIM ruled in RSC's favour in 2009 and declared the Austrian mark invalid.
The beverage company then lodged an appeal, which the EU court dismissed Friday after finding the marks similar and upholding the earlier court's ruling that there was a likelihood of association.
"By using the contested trade mark, Jackson International Trading would benefit from the power of attraction, the reputation and the prestige of the earlier trade mark for its own goods," the court said.
"That economic advantage would consist of exploiting the effort expended by the RSC in order to establish the reputation and the image of its earlier trade mark, without paying any compensation in exchange," it added.
The court also said the reputation of the theatre company, which performs Shakespeare's plays from his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon in central England, extends to "the public at large, and not merely at a limited number of consumers or an elite," as the Austrian company had claimed.
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