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On 29 July 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held​ that Red Bull’s signature blue and silver colour trademarks were invalid. This followed an earlier decision by the General Court of the European Union in 2017 which found that the graphic representation and description of the two colours were not sufficiently precise.

The threshold for successfully registering a trademark consisting of a single colour or combination of colours has been set purposefully high, in order to avoid situations where a large company is able to effectively monopolise a particular colour within a particular class of goods or services. A company seeking to register a colour trademark must demonstrate that their mark has acquired distinctiveness, and be able to describe it in a sufficiently clear and precise manner.


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In 2013, Mr Justice Gilligan refused an injunction sought by Galway Free Range Eggs Limited restraining Hillsbrook Eggs Limited from packaging or promoting their products under the name “O’Brien’s of Galway Free Range Eggs”. The Court held that it was not satisfied that the packaging used by the defendant was likely to deceive the public but did accept that there were issues to put forward to trial.

The substantive High Court hearing was held recently before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor and one of the bigger issues before the Court was the use of survey evidence and the weight to be attached to such opinion evidence.  The Court was highly sceptical of the value of market opinions and related questionnaires and stated that in this specific case “the evidence offered on behalf of the plaintiff concerning brand confusion was tenuous and unreliable”.


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Photo of Aoibheann Duffy

Augmented Reality (AR) uses technology to overlay real world, physical environments with virtual components like light, sound, video, images or GPS data.  Once seen as a futuristic and ‘gimmicky’ area, AR is growing at a rapid pace and will soon form part of our everyday technology. Microsoft recently unveiled its AR wearable technology, ‘Hololens’ which is geared towards gaming and design and comes in the form of a headset.


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