Cava case goes flat

12th Oct 2018

The Court saw the distance between a PDO and a contested mark, explains Melanie Stevenson. T-774/16, Consejo Regulador del Cava v EUIPO – Cave de Tain L’Hermitage, union des propriétaires, General Court, 12th July 2018.


T-774/16, Consejo Regulador del Cava v EUIPO – Cave de Tain L’Hermitage, union des propriétaires, General Court, 12th July 2018

Key points

  • The “essential function” of a geographical indication is to “guarantee to consumers the geographical origin of goods and the special qualities inherent to them”
  • The qualities and characteristics associated with protected products are inextricably linked with the geographical origin of those products

Cave de Tain L’Hermitage, union des propriétaires, registered with EUIPO the CAVE DE TAIN logo in respect of “wines with a registered designation of origin; vin de pays” in class 33. Consejo Regulador del Cava applied to declare the Contested Mark invalid on the basis that it was an evocation of the protected designation of origin (PDO) CAVA under Article 7(1)(j) of Regulation No 207/2009 (now Regulation 2017/1001) and Article 52(1)(a) of that regulation (now Article 59(1)(a) of Regulation 2017/1001), read together with Articles 118l and 118m of Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007. 

The Cancellation Division dismissed the invalidity action, finding that similarity between the signs was limited (with the visual differences being particularly significant), that the understanding of “cave” to mean “wine cellar” was not limited to French consumers, and that no evidence had been presented in support of the notion that the Contested Mark evoked the PDO. 

Evocation explored

The Board of Appeal (BoA) upheld the decision of the Cancellation Division. Exploring the concept of “evocation” of a PDO, the BoA found that it was necessary to take into account the function of the PDO, specifically “the protection of the geographical origin of a product with which specific qualities or characteristics are associated because of that origin”. 

CAVA, the BoA said, was a “descriptive term referring to sparkling wine from Spain and a dictionary Spanish word meaning ‘cave’ (‘cellar’) in French or ‘wine cellar’ in English”. The Contested Mark does not refer to the geographical origin of Cava. In fact, CAVA could only evoke a Spanish origin of Cava, whereas the Contested Mark could only evoke a French origin. If consumers did not understand the French or Spanish meaning of CAVE or CAVA, that would only further distance the Contested Mark from the PDO. 

GC agrees

The General Court (GC) upheld the decision of the BoA. The Applicant had argued that consumers associate particular qualities with products protected by the PDO CAVA independently of the origin of those products. In response, the GC repeated the definition of a PDO at Article 93(1)(a) of Regulation No 1308/2013, from which it follows that the characteristics associated with products protected by PDOs are inextricably linked with their geographical origin. The GC also confirmed that the differences between the PDO and the Contested Mark precluded the possibility of evocation of the PDO.

Melanie Stevenson is a Chartered and European Trade Mark Attorney, and an Associate at Carpmaels & Ransford