The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently ended a long running dispute between Yoshida and Pi-Design over the EU trade mark registration status of 2D drawings of Toshida knife handles.
Yoshida had previously appealed against the General Court’s decision that the EU trade marks were invalid because they consisted exclusively of the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result. Yoshida had also argued the trade marks were “hybrid signs” comprising visually significant decorative design elements that provide a distinguishing function.
The CJEU concluded in their judgement that it does not matter whether the shape of the Toshida knife handles also performs a distinguishing function; since it is entirely functional, it cannot be registered as a trade mark. The CJEU also stated that a sign consisting exclusively of the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result cannot be registered as a trade mark, even if it has a distinctive character.