1.8.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 180/6


Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 18 June 2009 (Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Court of Appeal (England and Wales) (Civil Division) — United Kingdom — L’Oréal SA, Lancôme parfums et beauté & Cie SNC, Laboratoire Garnier & Cie v Bellure NV, Malaika Investments Ltd, trading as ‘Honey pot cosmetic & Perfumery Sales’, Starion International Ltd,

(Case C-487/07) (1)

(Directive 89/104/EEC - Trade marks - Article 5(1) and (2) - Use in comparative advertising - Right to have such use prevented - Taking unfair advantage of the repute of a trade mark - Impairment of the functions of the trade mark - Directive 84/450/EEC - Comparative advertising - Article 3a(1)(g) and (h) - Conditions under which comparative advertising is permitted - Taking unfair advantage of the reputation of a trade mark - Presentation of goods as imitations or replicas)

2009/C 180/09

Language of the case: English

Referring court

Court of Appeal (England and Wales) (Civil Division)

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: L’Oréal SA, Lancôme parfums et beauté & Cie SNC, Laboratoire Garnier & Cie

Defendants: Bellure NV, Malaika Investments Ltd, trading as ‘Honey pot cosmetic & Perfumery Sales’, Starion International Ltd,

Re:

Reference for a preliminary ruling — Court of Appeal, Civil Division — Interpretation of Article 5(1)(a) and (b) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (OJ 1989 L 40, p. 1) and of Article 3a(1)(g) and (h) of Council Directive 84/450/EEC of 10 September 1984 relating to the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning misleading advertising (OJ 1984 L 250, p. 17), as amended by Directive 97/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 1997 (OJ 1997 L 290, p. 18) — Use by a trader, in advertising for his own goods or services, of a trade mark belonging to a competitor in order to compare the characteritics, in particular the smell, of the goods placed on the market by the competitor.

Operative part of the judgment

1.

Article 5(2) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that the taking of unfair advantage of the distinctive character or the repute of a mark, within the meaning of that provision, does not require that there be a likelihood of confusion or a likelihood of detriment to the distinctive character or the repute of the mark or, more generally, to its proprietor. The advantage arising from the use by a third party of a sign similar to a mark with a reputation is an advantage taken unfairly by that third party of the distinctive character or the repute of that mark where that party seeks by that use to ride on the coat-tails of the mark with a reputation in order to benefit from the power of attraction, the reputation and the prestige of that mark and to exploit, without paying any financial compensation, the marketing effort expended by the proprietor of the mark in order to create and maintain the mark’s image.

2.

Article 5(1)(a) of Directive 89/104 must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a registered trade mark is entitled to prevent the use by a third party, in a comparative advertisement which does not satisfy all the conditions, laid down in Article 3a(1) of Council Directive 84/450/EEC of 10 September 1984 concerning misleading and comparative advertising, as amended by Directive 97/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 1997, under which comparative advertising is permitted, of a sign identical with that mark in relation to goods or services which are identical with those for which that mark was registered, even where such use is not capable of jeopardising the essential function of the mark, which is to indicate the origin of the goods or services, provided that such use affects or is liable to affect one of the other functions of the mark.

3.

Article 3a(1) of Directive 84/450, as amended by Directive 97/55, must be interpreted as meaning that an advertiser who states explicitly or implicitly in comparative advertising that the product marketed by him is an imitation of a product bearing a well-known trade mark presents ‘goods or services as imitations or replicas’ within the meaning of Article 3a(1)(h). The advantage gained by the advertiser as a result of such unlawful comparative advertising must be considered to be an advantage taken unfairly of the reputation of that mark within the meaning of Article 3a(1)(g).


(1)  OJ C 8, 12.1.2008.