The European Union General Court has rejected an application for a Community Trademark (CTM) for a 3D car shape by Jaguar Land Rover for lack of “distinctive character”. The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) appeal board rejected the CTM application covering cars, radio toy-controlled cars, and air and water vehicles in November 2015. The application consisted of six line drawings outlining the 3D shape of a Range Rover Evoque.
The company had first applied to register their 3D shape in November 2012 and has been trying to obtain the CTM registration ever since. The main ground for rejection of the application was that the Court viewed the shape covered by the mark as merely a variant of the typical shape of cars that are already existent in the automobile sector, rather than a design of adequately distinctive character eligible for trademark protection. The Court opined that, "The features visible were typical for modern cars, such as a flat windscreen, a rounded front, a sloping coupe roofline, a rising waistline, bumpers as well as front and back lights integrated into the hull, and the airflow (aerodynamic) wing at the top of the rear".
“It should be observed that the applicant, in so doing, in no way states that the mark applied for departs significantly from the norm or customs of the sector concerned, as opposed to constituting merely a ‘variant’ of a common shape of a car”, the Court further stated. And concluded that, “Even if the applicant’s statements regarding the quality and level of detail of the six graphic representations were proved, the fact remains that a high quality and extremely detailed drawing may well contain merely a variation of the typical shape of a car”.
Although the Court stated the design as typical for cars, it was not so in case of vehicles travelling by air and water. The design has been considered to be distinctive for the particular sector, i.e. water locomotives and aeroplanes.