The European General Court (EGC) in Luxembourg agreed with Cinkciarz.pl, a company belonging to Conotoxia Holding whose trade mark word "cinkciarz" was attacked by a competitor, Currency One, based on a plea of descriptiveness and lack of distinctiveness. The EU Court, in its judgment on Thursday, December 19th, declared that the word "cinkciarz" can be a protected trade mark and that the allegations of descriptiveness were unjustified. As a result, Cinkciarz.pl has retained a monopoly in the European Union on the use of the word "cinkciarz" in the financial sector and for currency exchange services, among others.
In 2015, Cinkciarz.pl applied to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for registration of a EU word trade mark for computer software, financial services (including currency exchange) and publications.
EUIPO has registered the word trade mark "cinkciarz". In the same year, Currency One S.A. filed a complaint about invalidation of the registration of the mentioned mark, claiming that it is descriptive, non-distinctive and should be made available to all entrepreneurs. The complaint was rejected by EUIPO at first instance and then also by the Board of Appeal of EUIPO. Currency One S.A. appealed to the General Court of the European Union against the Board of Appeal's aforementioned decision.
In its judgment issued on December 19th, 2019, the General Court dismissed Currency One's complaint. The Court noted that the word "cinkciarz" is not a specific term for a profession, nor does it describe foreign exchange services and therefore, there are no grounds to consider it descriptive. Ph.D. Ewa Skrzydlo-Tefelska and solicitor Karol Gajek, attorneys from Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak law firm, who represented Cinkciarz.pl in the EU Court, stress that the judgment is also relevant in a more general context. It shows that trade marks which have many different connotations and meanings, including, e.g. historic or those referring to past illegal activities, can perfectly serve as a trade mark. A mere suggestion made by the trade mark in relation to the goods or services concerned is not enough for it to be considered descriptive. Lawyers also point out that the judgment is not yet final.