Small cars, big trouble reloaded


Recently, the German Supreme Court ruled on the VW Bulli case, which involved a dispute over the use of a three-dimensional trademark for model cars. Volkswagen, the owner of the trademark for the iconic 'Bulli' (VW T1), took legal action against a manufacturer who was selling model cars resembling the Bulli without a license. 

The Higher Regional Court of Hamburg initially ruled in favor of Volkswagen, citing a likelihood of confusion and unfair advantage. However, the German Supreme Court overturned this decision, questioning the genuine use of the trademark and the perception of the shape as an indication of commercial origin. 

The Court highlighted the need for the relevant public to recognize the shape as more than just a representation of the goods. Additionally, it emphasized the importance of considering the specialized nature of the market for collectors and advertising clients when assessing likelihood of confusion and reputation of the defendant's trademark.
This case underscores the complexities of establishing and enforcing non-traditional trademarks, particularly in terms of consumer perception of commercial origin.



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