September 2017. Footwear manufacturer Timberland has failed in a bid to register its iconic yellow-brown shoe as a trademark in Europe. According to the Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), it lacks distinctive character.
Timberland has run up against the extremely stringent EU requirements governing the registration of 3D shapes as trademarks. These state that only if the shape ‘significantly departs from the norm of the sector’ the registration will be accepted. The EUIPO doesn’t think Timberland has satisfied this criterion and has therefore consigned the application to the European wastepaper basket, as it normally does with almost all 3D shape marks.
No acquired distinctiveness
Timberland also failed to convince the EUIPO that the shoe is now so well-known it has acquired distinctiveness as a shape mark throughout Europe.