CASELAW

Caselaw

Court of Justice of the European Communities, C-337/95

Where a question relating to the interpretation of the First Council Directive (89/104/EEC) of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks is raised in proceedings in one of the Benelux Member States concerning the interpretation of the Uniform Benelux Law on Trade Marks, a court against whose decisions there is no remedy under national law, as is the case with both the Benelux Court and the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden, must make a reference to the Court of Justice under the third paragraph of Article 177 of the EC Treaty. However, that obligation loses its purpose and is thus emptied of its substance when the question raised is substantially the same as a question which has already been the subject of a preliminary ruling in the same national proceedings.
On a proper interpretation of Articles 5 and 7 of Directive 89/104, when trade-marked goods have been put on the Community market by the proprietor of the trade mark or with his consent, a reseller, besides being free to resell those goods, is also free to make use of the trade mark in order to bring to the public's attention the further commercialization of those goods.
The proprietor of a trade mark may not rely on Article 7(2) of Directive 89/104 to oppose the use of the trade mark, by a reseller who habitually markets articles of the same kind, but not necessarily of the same quality, as the trade-marked goods, in ways customary in the reseller's sector of trade, for the purpose of bringing to the public's attention the further commercialization of those goods, unless it is established that, given the specific circumstances of the case, the use of the trade mark for this purpose seriously damages the reputation of the trade mark.
On a proper interpretation of Articles 30 and 36 of the EC Treaty, the proprietor of a trade mark or holder of copyright may not oppose their use by a reseller who habitually markets articles of the same kind, but not necessarily of the same quality, as the protected goods, in ways customary in the reseller's sector of trade, for the purpose of bringing to the public's attention the further commercialization of those goods, unless it is established that, having regard to the specific circumstances of the case, the use of those goods for that purpose seriously damages their reputation.

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