Belgian company, Spa Monopole filed a notice of opposition to the application for registration for the word sign SPA WISDOM, sought by The Body Shop International in 2010. The application concerned, referred to inter alia, cosmetic products and was filed with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM).

Spa Monopole is a company that was established in Spa, Belgium and provides, amongst other things mineral and aerated waters. Their argument against The Body Shops application is based on a number of earlier marks registered in Benelux, which use the term “spa” in direct reference to the aforementioned types of drinking waters as well as possibly being a generic and descriptive term for places for hydrotherapy and not in reference to only cosmetics.

In 2014, OHIM upheld the opposition and rejected the application for registration of SPA WISDOM in its entirety. They cited that approval would risk an unfair advantage of the “distinctive character” or the reputation of Spa’s earlier mark. The Body Shop then challenged the decision of the OHIM in the General Court but this was then dismissed on the grounds that term “spa” is not a word that is considered specific or descriptive to cosmetic products. The Court therefore found that a risk of unfair advantage existed by the use of SPA WISDOM, based on the existing repute of the trademark Spa and that marketing of the goods covered by the trade mark applied for, would be more straightforward given the association with the earlier mark.

An appeal limited to two points of law can be brought before the Court of Justice against the decision of the General court as long as it is within two months of notification of the decision.

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