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Document 62018CO0805

Order of the Court (Eighth Chamber) of 12 June 2019.
Saga Furs Oyj v European Union Intellectual Property Office.
Appeal — Article 181 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice — EU trade mark — Opposition proceedings — Application for registration of the word sign SAGA — Application lodged with the General Court of the European Union signed by a ‘licensed legal counsel’ — Manifest inadmissibility — Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union — No representation by a lawyer — Appeal manifestly unfounded.
Case C-805/18 P.

ECLI identifier: ECLI:EU:C:2019:488

ORDER OF THE COURT (Eighth Chamber)

12 June 2019 (*)

(Appeal — Article 181 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice — EU trade mark — Opposition proceedings — Application for registration of the word sign SAGA — Application lodged with the General Court of the European Union signed by a ‘licensed legal counsel’ — Manifest inadmissibility — Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union — No representation by a lawyer — Appeal manifestly unfounded)

In Case C-805/18 P,

APPEAL under Article 56 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, brought on 18 December 2018,

Saga Furs Oyj, located in Vantaa (Finland), represented by J. Kaulo, luvan saanut oikeudenkäyntiavustaja,

appellant,

the other parties to the proceedings being:

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO),

defendant at first instance,

Support Design AB, established in Sunne (Sweden),

intervener at first instance,

THE COURT (Eighth Chamber),

composed of F. Biltgen (Rapporteur), President of the Chamber, J. Malenovský and C.G. Fernlund, Judges,

Advocate General: H. Saugmandsgaard Øe,

Registrar: A. Calot Escobar,

having decided, after hearing the Advocate General, to give a decision by reasoned order, pursuant to Article 181 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice,

makes the following

Order

1        By its appeal, Saga Furs Oyj claims that the Court should set aside the order of the General Court of the European Union of 12 October 2018, Saga Furs v EUIPO – Support Design (SAGA) (T-313/18, not published, ‘the order under appeal’, EU:T:2018:701), by which that court dismissed as manifestly inadmissible its action for annulment of the decision of the Second Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) of 8 March 2018 (Case R 1241/2017-2) concerning opposition proceedings between Support Design AB and Saga Furs, and to refer the present case back to the General Court.

2        In support of its appeal, the appellant relies on a single ground of appeal, alleging that the General Court infringed Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 The appeal

3        Pursuant to Article 181 of its Rules of Procedure, where an appeal is, in whole or in part, manifestly inadmissible or manifestly unfounded, the Court may at any time, acting on a proposal from the Judge-Rapporteur and after hearing the Advocate General, decide by reasoned order to dismiss the appeal in whole or in part.

4        That provision must be applied in the present case.

5        On 11 April 2019, the Advocate General took the following position:

‘1.      By its appeal, Saga Furs claims that the Court should set aside the order under appeal, by which the General Court dismissed as manifestly inadmissible its action for annulment of the decision of the Second Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) of 8 March 2018 (Case R 1241/2017-2) concerning opposition proceedings between Support Design AB and Saga Furs, and to refer the present case back to the General Court.

2.      For the reasons set out below, I propose that the Court dismiss the present appeal as manifestly unfounded, pursuant to Article 181 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice.

3.      In support of its appeal, the appellant relies on a single ground of appeal, alleging that the General Court infringed Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union in holding that its representative, Mr Kaulo, did not meet the conditions set out in that article. The appellant submits that, since Law 715/2011 on licensed legal counsel came into force, Mr Kaulo, as a legal counsel, is authorised to represent his clients before the Finnish courts and that access to the profession of lawyer is no longer conditional upon admission to the Bar of Finland, contrary to what the General Court wrongly held in paragraph 8 of the order under appeal.

4.      According to the Court’s settled case-law, it is clear from the fourth paragraph of Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union that two cumulative conditions must be satisfied for a person to be validly permitted to represent parties, other than the Member States and the EU institutions, before the Courts of the European Union, namely, first, that person must be a lawyer, and secondly, he or she must be authorised to practice before a court of a Member State or of another State which is a party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area of 2 May 1992 (OJ 1994 L 1, p. 3) (see, inter alia, orders of 17 July 2014, Brown Brothers Harriman v OHIM, C-101/4 P, not published, EU:C:2014:2115, paragraph 15, and of 4 December 2014, ADR Center v Commission, C-259/14 P, not published, EU:C:2014:2417, paragraph 34).

5.      With regard to the first of those cumulative conditions, the person who signs the application must be a member of the Bar in order to be regarded as having the status of lawyer for the purposes of Article 19 of that statute; it is not sufficient that that person is entitled to represent parties in proceedings before the courts of a Member State (see, to that effect, orders of 20 February 2008, Comunidad Autónoma de Valencia v Commission, C-363/06 P, not published, EU:C:2008:99, paragraphs 22 and 23, and of 11 May 2017, Neonart svetlobni in reklamni napisi Krevh v EUIPO, C-22/17 P, not published, EU:C:2017:369, paragraph 6).

6.      In that respect, it should be borne in mind that the concept of “lawyer”, within the meaning of Article 19 of that statute, must be interpreted autonomously and without reference to national law (see, to that effect, judgment of 6 September 2012, Prezes Urzędu Komunikacji Elektronicznej v Commission, C-422/11 P and C-423/11 P, EU:C:2012:553, paragraphs 34 and 35, and order of 11 May 2017, Neonart svetlobni in reklamni napisi Krevh v EUIPO, C-22/17 P, not published, EU:C:2017:369, paragraph 6).

7.      In the light of that consideration, the Court held, in the orders of 17 July 2014, Brown Brothers Harriman v OHIM (C-101/14 P, not published, EU:C:2014:2115, paragraphs 16 and 17), and of 11 May 2017, Neonart svetlobni in reklamni napisi Krevh v EUIPO (C-22/17 P, not published, EU:C:2017:369, paragraph 6), that a person who was entitled to represent his clients before the courts of Sweden and Slovenia, but who was not a member of the respective Bars of those two States, was not a ‘lawyer’, within the meaning of Article 19 of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

8.      In the present case, it is common ground that Mr Kaulo, who signed the application lodged with the General Court, is not a member of the Finnish Bar. It follows from the above case-law that, even if, as the appellant argues, Mr Kaulo was granted authorisation to exercise the functions of legal counsel and to represent his clients before all courts of law in Finland, he cannot be regarded as a “lawyer” for the purposes of Article 19 of that statute.

9.      The circumstance, alleged by the appellant, that the status of licensed legal counsel, under Finnish Law 715/2011, is in line with the justification of the requirement laid down in Article 19, fourth paragraph, of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, referred to in paragraph 11 of the order under appeal, could not lead to a different outcome.

10.      It follows that the General Court was correct in holding, in paragraph 12 of the order under appeal, that Mr Kaulo did not meet the first of the two cumulative conditions set out in paragraph 4 above and that he was therefore not authorised to represent the appellant before the General Court.

11.      In view of the foregoing, I take the view that the single ground of appeal must be rejected as manifestly unfounded. Accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed in its entirety and the appellant must be ordered to pay the costs, in accordance with Article 137 and Article 184(1) of the Rules of Procedure.’

6        For the same reasons as those given by the Advocate General, the appeal must be dismissed as manifestly unfounded.

 Costs

7        Under Article 137 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court, applicable to appeal proceedings by virtue of Article 184(1) of those rules, a decision as to costs is to be given in the order which closes the proceedings. As the present order has been adopted without notification of the appeal to the defendant, and as the latter could therefore not have incurred costs, it is appropriate to decide that Saga Furs must bear its own costs.

On those grounds, the Court (Eighth Chamber) hereby orders:

1.      The appeal is dismissed.


2.      Saga Furs Oyj is ordered to pay its own costs.

Luxembourg, 12 June 2019.


A. Calot Escobar

 

F. Biltgen

Registrar

 

President of the Eighth Chamber


*      Language of the case: English.

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