Recommendation on Measures to Safeguard Freedom of Expression and Undistorted Competition in EU Trade Mark Law
European Intellectual Property Review 2015, 337-344
11 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2014 Last revised: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: September 15, 2014
Whatever the protection afforded to trade marks, it must always be balanced against general interests, in particular the fundamental freedom of expression and the guarantee of undistorted competition, as reflected in the Lisbon Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. The need for an appropriate balance is inherent in trade mark law. It is an issue of particular importance in the light of ongoing technological, economic and social developments, and of considerable complexity because of the diversity of legitimate interests of trade mark proprietors, consumers, competitors and the public at large.
Against this background, the Recommendation provides guidance on how to offer sufficient room for freedom of expression and freedom of competition in the envisaged new EU trade mark legislation. It addresses measures to be taken by legislators, trade mark registration offices and the courts at various stages: from the grant of trade mark rights and the analysis of trade mark infringement to limitations of trade mark protection and the appropriate distribution of the burden of proof.
Keywords: EU trade mark law, freedom of expression, freedom of competition, limitations of exclusive rights, need to keep free, referential use, Lisbon Treaty, Charter of Fundamental Rights, criticism, comment, parody, exhaustion, comparative advertising, functionality, due cause defence, honest practices
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