The Swedish food manufacturer OATLY AB has applied to the European Intellectual Property Office ("EUIPO") for the trademark "IT`S LIKE MILK BUT MADE FOR HUMANS" as an EU trademark.

Repeatedly, slogans are objected to as trademark designations on the grounds that they do not give any indication of the company origin, but convey advertising messages.

The EUIPO also rejected the application on the grounds that a trademark can only have distinctive character if it indicates the commercial origin of a product. However, a mere advertising sequence will not be perceived by the addressees as an indication of origin.

In Art.7(1) of the EU Trademark Regulation, trademarks are excluded from registration if, among other things, they are devoid of distinctive character.

Even after the opposition, the application to the EUIPO was rejected. Finally, in the last instance, the European Court of Justice dealt with this application and ruled in favor of the company OATLY AB (judgment of 20.01.2021, T-253/20). According to the judgment of the EUG, the trademark applied for therefore has the minimum degree of distinctiveness required by Article 7(1)(b) of Regulation (EU) No 2017/1001.

It can be deduced from this judgment that indications of origin are recognized also for slogans as long as a cognitive process is set in motion that justifies the application for registration.

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