Allstate hit by European court ruling over trademark

European Union’s top court refuses trademark application from North American insurer

Allstate hit by European court ruling over trademark

Insurance News

By Paolo Taruc

The European Union’s top court has struck down Allstate’s application to register its “Drivewise” software as an EU trademark.

Allstate filed the application before the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in November, 2014. About four months later, an examiner rejected the registration outlining that “Drivewise” did not meet the characteristics of a trademark as set forth by EU law as it is too generic – “devoid of any distinct character.”

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The insurance giant lodged a case with the EU Court of Justice last year, and asked it to annul the EUIPO’s decision. The judicial body’s General Court dismissed Allstate’s request and ruled in favour of the regulator. It also ordered the insurer to pay all costs connected to the pleadings.

On its US website, Allstate says the software is aimed at rewarding drivers with safe motoring habits. It collects data on driving behaviour including hard braking, high speeds, and at what times they’re behind the wheel. Allstate called for reconsideration, but the regulator’s Board of Appeal shot it down.

According to the Court’s ruling, Allstate argued that the EUIPO’s Board of Appeal disregarded the “unusual and fanciful” character of the combination of the terms “drive” and “wise”.

In the case of “Drivewise,” it said that “a mark consisting of a neologism or of a word composed of elements, each of which is descriptive of characteristics of the goods or services in respect of which registration is sought, is itself descriptive of the characteristics of those goods or services, unless there is a perceptible difference between the neologism or the word and the mere sum of its parts.”

It added that “Drivewise” can immediately be understood by the relevant public as the grammatically correct expression “drive safely”.

“Drivewise” is currently trademarked in the US – but the Court said this should not be taken into account, as the EU trademark system is independent and made up of a body of rules specific to it.

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