CFI – November 19, 2009 – CANNABIS
On November 19, 2009, the European Court of First Instance ruled that the Community word trademark CANNABIS was descriptive for “beer” in class 32 and “wine, spirits, liqueurs, sparkling beverages, sparking wine, champagne” in class 33.
For the Court, “cannabis” could actually or potentially refer to one of the ingredients that may be used in the manufacture of the products of the contested trademark especially in view of the supply of beverages containing hemp already in existence on the market.
People purchasing a beer CANNABIS would probably do so because they are convinced that it contains cannabis and are attracted by the possibility of obtaining from the beverage very near sensations that those felt from the consumption of the cannabis in another form. The average consumer, reasonably well informed, observant and circumspect, would therefore immediately and without further thought make a connection between the mark and the features of the products it is registered for.
In our opinion, beer consumers hardly expect in practice a beverage CANNABIS to bring a sensation similar with the consumption of cannabis nor would they expect that beer to actually contain such ingredient. Beer branding quite often take the side of sulfurous names such as “Daemon beer” or “Delirum Tremens” – and no one expects to feel like a “daemon” or have symptoms of a delirium tremens while drinking them! More intriguing is the point that the mark was not challenged on the ground of a contrariety to public order which could have been in a more border-line situation…