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The European Union General Court (EGC), in its judgment of July 12, 2018, dismissed the appeal filed by Spain’s Regulating Council for Cava against Cave de Tain, confirming the registration of the European Union trademark that includes the words Cave de Tain.

In 2012, the French owners’ association Cave de Tain L’Hermitage filed an application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register the following European Union figurative trademark for its French wine, and in May 2014, the EUIPO accepted the registration.

Later, in June 2014, the Regulating Council for Cava, established in Vilafranca del Penedès (Barcelona), sought annulment of the trademark on the basis that it induced confusion with the protected designation of origin Cava.

These claims were rejected by the EUIPO, which, in April 2015, dismissed the appeal filed by the Catalonian cava producers, arguing that, among other reasons, the word cave is a term used to refer to wineries in French-speaking countries, so it is not confused with the protected designation of origin for Cava. The EUIPO dismissed the appeal again, rejecting that the trademark challenged could evoke the protected designation of origin.

The Regulating Council for Cava decided to file an appeal with the EGC, on the basis that the trademark should be annulled “regarding sparkling wines with a protected designation of origin.”

On July 12, 2018, the EGC issued its judgment in which, following the arguments given by the EUIPO, it ruled in favor of Cave de Tain, stating, among other things, that “the contested mark will be understood by the consumer, regardless of his or her language skills, as referring to a wine produced in France, in the region or town whose name appears in that mark, irrespective of whether this wine is sparkling or not, and the association thus made by the consumer between the product and its French origin precludes any possibility of evocation of the PDO ‘CAVA’.”

Bear in mind that this may not be the final decision regarding the registration of the cave trademark, as a cassation appeal against the EGC judgment may be filed with the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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cristina.clos@cuatrecasas.com