Webcast : Shape marks

Tanguy de Haan, Lawyer, NautaDutilh Brussels, offers an insight into what a shape mark is, the grounds for refusal of this type of brand distinction and the scope of protective measures it can offer.

Three-dimensional trademarks are, as yet, relatively rarely used in business life; however, companies are increasingly keen to apply for their registration in order to enhance the scope offered by these signs to distinguish their products from those of their competitors. 

Not only must these marks comply with the same eligibility criteria as those required by traditional marks, they must also satisfy supplementary requirements. Indeed, certain shapes are not covered by the monopoly offered by a trademark alone. Such is the case of the shapes dictated by the nature of the product, of those that are necessary to obtain a technical result and of those that offer the product its essential value. 

It is not simple to register a shape mark, but companies that have obtained such registration benefit from increased protection against use by competitors of identical or similar shapes. 

Registration of three-dimensional trademarks is most likely to considerably increase over the coming years with the democratisation of 3D printing.