Under Article 7(1)(h) of Regulation No 40/94 on the Community trade mark, ‘trade marks which have not been authorised by the competent authorities and are to be refused pursuant to Article 6 ter of the Paris Convention’ are not to be registered. That provision aims to preclude the registration and use of trade marks which are identical to State emblems or which are to a certain degree similar to them. Such registration or use would adversely affect the right of the State to control the use of the symbols of its sovereignty and might, moreover, mislead the public as to the origin of the goods for which such marks are used. By virtue of Article 6 ter (1)(b) of the Paris Convention, that protection also covers the armorial bearings, flags, other emblems, abbreviations and names of international intergovernmental organisations.
As regards, in that respect, a figurative sign consisting of a circle of stars of the same shape and size having five points one of which points upwards, on a square background around the word element ‘ECA’, without any mention of colours, in respect of which registration was sought for certain goods and services within Classes 9, 41 and 42 of the Nice Agreement, including record data carriers and arranging and conducting of ‘colloquiums, seminars, symposiums, congresses and conferences; providing of tuition, instruction, training; consultancy on training and further training’, there is an imitation from a heraldic point of view of the European emblem within the meaning of the provision cited.
So far as concerns possible application of the second sentence of Article 6 ter (1)(c) of the Paris Convention, the kind of goods and services in respect of which registration was sought does not rule out that the relevant public might believe that there is a connection between the applicant and the Council of Europe, the European Union or the European Community. Accordingly, registration of the mark applied for is likely to give the impression, on the part of the public, that there is a connection between the applicant and the mark applied for and the institutions in question. The presence of the abbreviation ‘ECA’ in the centre of the sign of the mark applied for reinforces that impression.