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Waterford Loses Trademark Battle With SA Wine Producer

by Jason Gorringe, for LawAndTax-News.com, London

13 June 2007


The European Court of First Instance (CFI) on Tuesday ruled against Ireland's Waterford Wedgewood - which makes Waterford Crystal - in its trademark dispute with a South African wine producer.

Waterford had opposed the bid by Stellenbosch to register in the EU a fountain logo incorporating the words 'Waterford Stellenbosch', arguing that the common conjunction of wine and crystal glasses could create confusion in the minds of consumers.

Following a series of decisions and reversals on the matter in various European fora over recent years, the CFI on Tuesday found against Waterford, arguing that: wine and glasses "are distinct by nature and by their use" and that they are "neither in competition with one another nor substitutable".

Although the panel of three judges at the European court acknowledged a "degree of complementarity" between the two products, they went on to argue: "that complementarity is not sufficiently pronounced for it to be accepted that, from the consumer`s point of view, the goods in question are similar".

Waterford, meanwhile, has pledged to pursue the matter through various national and European courts. It is also reportedly considering lodging an appeal against the CFI decision.


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