EU General Court - CRÉDIT MUTUEL ARKEA v/ CONFÉDÉRATION NATIONALE DU CRÉDIT MUTUEL and EUIPO

Decision date

2019-09-24

Decision No.

908130 - Matter T-13/18

Nature

Trademarks

Country

European Union

Jurisdiction

General Court of European Union

Parties

CRÉDIT MUTUEL ARKEA v/ CONFÉDÉRATION NATIONALE DU CRÉDIT MUTUEL and EUIPO

CREDIT MUTUEL ARKEA was represented by Arnaud CASALONGA and Floriane CODEVELLE, lawyers at the Paris Bar, assisted by Cristina BERCIAL-CHAUMIER, lawyer at the Alicante Bar.

In its decision of 24 September 2019, the Court of the European Union upheld Crédit Mutuel Arkéa’s arguments and annulled the European Union trademark "Crédit Mutuel" to designate products and services having a direct and close link with the banking sector.

In order to reach this conclusion, the Court of First Instance of the European Union first confirms that the mark ’Crédit Mutuel’, in so far as the words ’crédit mutuel’ refer to a type of banking activity provided by mutual banks, is not in itself distinctive in relation to the above-mentioned goods and services (§ 52, 59 and 66 of the Decision).

Then, annulling in this sense the decision previously rendered by the Board of Appeal, the Court of First Instance of the European Union ruled that the mark "Crédit Mutuel" had not acquired distinctive character through use, and was therefore not valid for products and services directly related to the banking sector, since:

  • The Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel (CNCM) does not itself carry out banking activities (§ 139 of the decision);
  • The CNCM does not exercise control over the products and services provided by the banks belonging to the Crédit Mutuel group (§ 148 of the decision);
  • The Crédit Mutuel group is not, in trademark law, a single company (§ 149 and 150 of the decision);
  • the banks belonging to the Crédit Mutuel group and operating the brand have formed around two autonomous and competing groups, the CMA and the CM11-CIC, operating in their communication, their own logos and brands (§ 140 and 159 of the decision)
  • It does not follow from the evidence of use provided by the CNCM that the mark was used in accordance with its essential function of indicating the commercial origin of the goods and services, as if it came from a single undertaking under whose control they are manufactured or supplied (§ 158 and 154 of the Decision).