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7 February 2019Medtech

EU court rules on Swedish medical devices TM dispute

The EU General Court today upheld the decision to invalidate a trademark owned by  Swemac Innovation, a Swedish medical devices company.

In the  ruling, the court dismissed the company’s appeal against a decision of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) invalidating its ‘Swemac’ EU trademark.

Swemac filed its application for the word sign in 2007. The EU trademark was subsequently registered the following year in classes 10 and 25, covering surgical and medical devices, as well as research and development in this field.

In 2013, another company, Swemac Medical Appliances, petitioned to have the mark invalidated, arguing that it was likely to cause confusion amongst the public, owing to the similarity in the names of the two companies and the fact that they operated in the same industry.

The cancellation division of the EUIPO rejected the request in 2014, ruling that Swemac Medical Appliances had not proven that its trade sign for the company name had anything more than “mere local significance” outside of Sweden.

The company successfully appealed against the cancellation division’s ruling in 2017, after submitting additional evidence to the EUIPO’s fifth board of appeal.

Shortly afterwards, Swemac Innovation appealed against the EUIPO’s cancellation of its mark to the General Court. In its decision, the court said that Swemac Innovation had failed to produce the documentary evidence that would support its various arguments.

The company had argued that the relevant public with respect to medical devices were highly skilled and educated, and applied a high level of attention when choosing suppliers. It also cited an earlier decision of a Swedish court in its favour, which said that the products were marketed exclusively through public procurement and that there could be “no misleading commercial origin”.

The General Court, however, said this extract from the Swedish court was “presented without any details on its factual and procedural context”, and could not be called upon to invalidate the EUIPO’s decision.

Swemac Innovation also failed to demonstrate the relevant public’s awareness of the mark, as well as any coexistence between the two companies’ signs over the relevant period, the ruling said.

The court ordered Swemac Innovation to pay costs, including those incurred by Swemac Medical Appliances, during the EUIPO proceedings.

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