The Supreme Administrative Court returned a registration issue to the Patent and Registration Office: the shape of a licorice mat had become distinctive

The case dealt with the registration of the shape of Oy Halva Ab’s three-layered licorice mat as a trademark. According to the Trademarks Act 1.2 §, any kind of mark that can be represented graphically and by means of which goods marketed in business can be distinguished from those of others may be a trademark. A trademark may in particular consist of words, including personal names, figures, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or of their packaging. The Finnish Patent and Registration Office, as well as Market Court, had earlier stated that the shape of Halva’s licorice mat was not distinctive enough to be eligible for registration according to the Trademarks Act 13 §, as it was solely composed of a form that is characteristic of the goods.

However, in the Supreme Administrative Court Halva presented the results of a market research as a new clarification in addition to the product catalogues and retailers’ statements presented in earlier phases of the process. These market research results proved that the shape of Halva’s licorice mat had become generally known in the appropriate consumer circles in Finland as a symbol specific to Halva’s goods. Hence the shape of licorice mat could be regarded as distinctive and eligible for registration as a trademark.

Thus the Supreme Administrative Court cancelled the decisions of the Market Court and the Finnish Patent and Registration Office, and returned the matter to the Patent and Registration Office for registration.

KHO 6.6.2016 T 2519