How Did We Miss This? Ford Trademarking "Fun"
And there we were saying Ford doesn’t have branding. Anyway, fun is a serious business, apparently. Bloomberg reports that Ford has been trying to trademark the word “FUN” (all caps?) in connection with “some” of its European automobiles since 2005. In 2007, the EU courts said, in effect, geddowdahere. And while we’re dealing with the surreal, how about this: the original case was brought in German. Spaß; Freude; Scherz; Lachen; Gelächter? Bloomberg seems to think that today’s ruling clears the way for Ford to resume its claim on FUN, but I think they got it exactly backwards. The adjudication itself is, remarkably, a hoot. Seriously, the jump is well worth your time, as it includes some language Bloomberg neglected to mention. Where’s their sense of fun?
“The Board of Appeal found that the relevant public was composed of average English-speaking consumers aged 18 to 70. For that public, the word ‘fun’ used in connection with a land motor vehicle was likely to be perceived as an indication that the vehicle had a quirky design and was particularly enjoyable to drive. Moreover, the word ‘fun’ was used by professionals – car dealers or leisure operators – to describe a category of vehicles (for example, quad bikes, rally carts, monster trucks) or vehicles that were simply ‘fun to drive’. The Board of Appeal stated that the word ‘fun’ was a rather banal and basic English word and that there was therefore a clear public interest in keeping it available for other traders and competitors. As regards parts and accessories, the Board of Appeal stated that the word ‘fun’ could be perceived as identifying parts and fittings for ‘fun vehicles’ and that some parts or some accessories could themselves also be ‘fun’. Therefore, the mark ‘FUN’ had to be considered to be descriptive within the meaning of Article 7(1)(c) of Regulation No 40/94 and, for that reason, as not having distinctive character within the meaning of Article 7(1)(b) of that regulation.”
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