The Hague District Court recently issued a preliminary ruling in which it held that Lacoste could not invoke its famous crocodile trademark in order to prohibit the use of a crocodile motif on children's underwear. This preliminary judgment is one of only a few examples in which the use of a sign has been considered purely decorative (and thus could not be perceived as trademark use). Typically, the courts are restrictive in accepting such a defence.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently rendered its decision in the dispute between Dutch parties Levola and Smilde concerning Levola's cream cheese product. The Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal had referred a number of prejudicial questions to the ECJ – in particular, whether a taste can be eligible for copyright protection. Among other things, Levola argued that disallowing copyright protection for the taste of foodstuffs would be contrary to Dutch Supreme Court case law.
The Hague District Court recently rendered an interim judgment in a matter between Dutch limited liability company McGregor IP BV and adidas. The key question in this case was whether adidas – in using the name of a sports hero on items such as hoodies, shorts and jerseys – had infringed McGregor IP's trademark rights. Notably, the outcome of this matter could have been different had the design and display of the signs at issue been different.
In May 2017 the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Appellate Court referred questions regarding which kinds of object can be classified as copyrightable works to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The case addresses the interesting question of whether certain tastes can be protected under copyright law (the specific taste for which protection was sought was Levola's popular cheese product Heks'nkaas). Advocate General Wathelet recently advised the ECJ not to allow tastes to be granted copyright protection.
The Hague District Court recently had to assess whether a natural person could be held accountable for a company's trademark and copyright infringement. Although the court could not establish whether the person was an official director of the infringing company, this did not stand in the way of his liability. In accordance with Supreme Court case law, liability can arise where a party plays a substantial part in the policy of a company that acts unlawfully and behaves as if they are a director of the company.
The Amsterdam District Court recently allowed a substantial damages claim following Dutch grocery delivery start-up Picnic's unlawful use of a lookalike of the famous Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen. This case clarifies that a person's right to control the use of their image cannot be violated easily. Although the parody defence is useful, the chance of success is limited if the parody is made in order to achieve commercial gain.
On June 1 2018 two protocols that amend the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property will take effect. The amendments will make it possible for Dutch parties to initiate actions before the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property with regard to the opposition, revocation and cancellation of a Benelux trademark. They will therefore have a significant effect on Dutch revocation and cancellation procedures.
The Supreme Court has upheld an opposition against the refilling of a gas tank bearing the trademark PRIMAGAZ with gas from a third party. The Supreme Court held that where a party uses another's branded packaging for its own goods, it is the same as using the other party's trademark. Finding that the act of filling the tank constituted use of the mark in the course of trade, the court held that the third party had used the PRIMAGAZ mark for commercial gain.
The Supreme Court recently rendered a landmark judgment on second medical use claims – more specifically, Swiss-type claims – which have been the subject of significant legal uncertainty throughout Europe. Although the judgment provides welcome clarification on Swiss-type claims with regard to the possibility of indirect infringement and the standards for direct and indirect infringement, some questions still remain.
The Hague Court of Appeal recently rendered its judgment in a case in which the claimant was seeking protection for its trade name, Parfumswinkel, against a competing online perfume shop acting under the trade name Parfumswebwinkel. Although the outcome of this case is acceptable, the reasoning behind it is not necessarily correct. The main issue in the proceedings was whether trade name protection should be granted to trade names that are purely descriptive and lack inherent distinctive character.
Since the launch of its online second-hand e-book service in 2014, Tom Kabinet's activities have been opposed by Dutch publishers, which have unsuccessfully initiated interim injunction proceedings against the company with regard to e-books that were initially purchased and downloaded lawfully (with the copyright owner's consent). At present, proceedings on the merits of the case are pending before The Hague District Court, which recently decided to refer questions to the European Court of Justice.
The Arnhem-Leeuwarden Appellate Court recently referred questions regarding which kinds of object can be classified as copyrightable works to the European Court of Justice. The case that led to the court's referral addressed the question of whether a certain taste can be protected under copyright law. The particular taste for which protection was sought was a popular cheese product.
The indicative tariffs used to determine reasonable and proportionate legal costs in IP cases were recently revised, following the European Court of Justice's judgment regarding the interpretation of the EU Enforcement Directive and the Supreme Court's judgment that judges must decide ex officio on the assignment of the cost of proceedings and the amount thereof. Notably, the category of 'very simple' cases has been introduced, in which only the standard liquidation rates will apply.
The Rotterdam District Court recently rendered its judgment in a matter between two parties that had jointly run a food truck. After having gone their separate ways, the food truck owner continued to operate the business. When the other party continued to use the business's name and logo, the food truck owner demanded that it cease to do so and commenced proceedings to that effect. This seemingly small case is noteworthy, as it demonstrates the consequences of copyright mismanagement.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently rendered its judgment in the dispute between Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken and Stichting Leenrecht, which had been referred to it by the Hague District Court. The ECJ considered whether the lending of electronic books by Dutch public libraries falls within the scope of the EU Rental and Lending Rights Directive and is covered by the existing public lending rights regime under the Dutch Copyright Act.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that hyperlinking to protected works which are freely available on another website without the consent of the copyright holder may be regarded as communication to the public and thus constitute copyright infringement. The ECJ considered that hyperlinking to infringing works constitutes infringement on the condition that the hyperlinker knew or ought to have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on another website.
A Dutch brewing company recently claimed that an internet service provider (ISP) had sought to capitalise on the reputation of its trademarks and benefit from the power of attraction, reputation and prestige of its mark. However, the claims were denied on the basis that the company failed to substantiate the negative effects that the ISP's use of a similar slogan had had on both its mark's distinctive character and its reputation.
The EU Community Design Regulation provides that "a Community design shall not subsist in features of appearance of a product that are solely dictated by its technical function". The Court of Appeal of The Hague recently delivered a judgment interpreting when a feature of a model breaches this requirement. The court also suggested that implicit obligations against placing confusing products on the market can arise from a contractual relationship.
Johan Cruijff, the most well-known Dutch soccer player, recently passed away. Aside from his legacy as a professional football player, Cruijff also had a significant impact on Dutch copyright law when he challenged the publication of his image on the ground of commercial interest. In a fundamental ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that in some circumstances, public figures are entitled to a reasonable fee for the commercial use of their portrait.
The latest dispute between Russian state-owned company FKP Sojuzplodoimport and Dutch company Spirits International concerned alleged trademark infringement by Spirits International by using the trademark STOLI for vodka in Benelux. Dutch case law on the issue of unlawful facilitation of trademark infringement is scarce, but in this decision the District Court of The Hague gave some further guidance on the topic.