In Re Giampietro Torresan v. OHIM -Klosterbrauerei Weissnohe GmbH & Co. KG the Court of First Instance has found that consumers would choose products bearing the trademark CANNABIS for alcoholic beverages as beer because they might have reason to believe that cannabis is one of the ingredients and because they would seek the same effects of cannabis in such beverages.
That is what the Court has decided when ruling on the request of Mr. Torresan (“Applicant”) against the OHIM’s decision to declare the trademark CANNABIS for beers, wines and spirits invalid in accordance with art 7(1)(c) of Regulation EC No. 40/94 and art. 51(1)(a) of the same Regulation, now art 52(1)(a) of Regulation EC No. 207/2009.
The Applicant has defended the distinctive character of the trademark CANNABIS, among the others, based on the lack of connection, even indirect, with beverages and because the designation CANNABIS may even be considered a fanciful name. In addition, Mr. Torresan maintains that use of cannabis-based ingredient be considered illegal in the European Community so that it might not be seen as a daily consumed good.
As a consequence, CANNABIS would be a suggestive trademark since it recalls the feeling of relax with no direct conceptual link to the goods for which registration is sought.
In response thereto, first, the Court finds that “the word CANNABIS has three possible meanings” referring to:
a) a textile plant (strictly regulated) along with its active ingredient of cannabis (whose use is not allowed if exceeding 0.2%)
b) a narcotic (prohibited in a great number of countries);
c) a substance for therapeutic use (whose employment is still discussed)
In view of the aforesaid, the Court suggests that cannabis is, to a certain extent, legally used in the food and beverages industry as a possible ingredient. Therefore, consumers’ choice would be addressed to thinking of allowed presence of cannabis in such beverages or to deciding CANNABIS beers because expecting to find the same feelings as when cannabis is used in different forms.
Provided that at least one of the meanings of CANNABIS might affect consumers’ choice, it suffices for the trademark to be declared descriptive. (Case T-207/06 Europig v. OHIM)
The foregoing goes beyond the simple suggestiveness of the mark and brings the Court to decide for the descriptiveness of CANNABIS upholding the OHIM’s decision.
Consumers intolerant to cannabis: Be careful to beers!