The Court Prohibited Use of Too Similar Packages of Cheese

Authors: Kaie Puur, Patent Attorney at METIDA

Source: „Postimees“

In order to secure an action based on possible trademark infringement Harju County Court prohibited AS E-Piim to use the packages of VENE JUUST (in English: RUSSIAN CHEESE).

OÜ Estover Piimatööstus is the owner of registered trademarks VENE JUUST in Estonia:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 18.03.43

E-Piim also owns a trademark registration of VENE JUUST:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 18.04.44

However, a different label was used on the packages by AS E-Piim Tootmine:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 18.04.49

Estover filed an action with Harju County Court against AS E-Piim Tootmine to stop infringement of their trademark rights and to destroy or repack the goods infringing their rights.

On 11 of November the Court found that the consumers may indeed be confused as the packages of cheese are very similar. Considering that the examination of the dispute may take quite long time before the final decision comes into force, the request of Estover to apply preliminary injunction was found by the Court to be justified. Thus, the Court prohibited AS E-Piim Tootmine to produce and sell cheese with the label similar to the earlier registered trademark of Estover as long as the court dispute over the possible infringement comes to an end.

Very often trademark disputes at the court take years before the final decision. Actually there was already a dispute over the registration of the same trademark VENE JUUST and it took almost four years. Namely, in February of 2009 the Patent Office made a decision to register the combined trademark VENE JUUST in the name of AS E-Piim. The decision was contested by the owner of earlier trademark VENE JUUST + design. The dispute started in the Board of Appeal of Industrial Property and continued through all the court instances.

The basic issue in this dispute was whether the word combination VENE JUUST (in English RUSSIAN CHEESE) could be registered as a trademark for cheese at all or whether it indicated merely a type and characteristic features of cheese and whether this word combination had become commonly used in Estonian.

As a result the Court confirmed that VENE JUUST is a designation of cheese type and therefore other producers may also manufacture and sell goods under the name VENE JUUST.

Cheese called VENE JUUST was manufactured in Estonia already during the Soviet times and then the following label was used:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 18.04.55

Thus, according to the earlier court decisions the words VENE JUUST can be used for cheese by anybody, however the design of the trademarks or labels on the packages must not be similar to the earlier registered trademarks.

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