EU Court Says Gillette Razor Trademark is Not Exclusive
Mar 18, 2005
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The European Union's highest court has ruled that a Finnish company can use personal care appliance maker Gillette Co.'s trademark razor system to market its own shaving products.

The Luxembourg-based Court said a complaint filed by Gillette Group Finland, a subsidiary of the U.S. company, was unjustified saying other companies, including LA-Laboratories Ltd. Oy in Finland, could sell razor blades that are compatible with the Gillette "Sensor" razors.

"Without being the owner of a trademark, a third party may use it in order to indicate the intended purpose of a product which it markets," the court said.

LA-Laboratories sells razor blades under the name "Parason Flexor" with a sticker saying "All Parason Flexor and Gilette Sensor handles are compatible with this blade."

Gillette claimed this was a breach of trademark laws and gave the impression to consumers that the Parason Flexor products were licensed by Gillette.

"The fact that a third party uses a trademark of which it is not the owner in order to indicate the intended purpose of its product does not necessarily mean that it is presenting that product as being of the same quality as, or having equivalent properties to, those of the product bearing the trademark," the court said.

The court made it clear, however, that the use of another company's trademark must be made in a way that does not take advantage of its distinctive character, nor that it gives the impression that the other product is an imitation or replica.

The case now goes back to the Finnish Supreme Court, which referred it to the EU's Court of Justice. (AP)

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