Quantum Trademarks

Can you register “QNED” as a trademark in class 9 for, among other goods, TV sets or displays? Or does the acronym QNED means “quantum nano (light-)emitting diode? This was the question decided by the Appeal Board of the European IP Office recently in case R721/2021-4 (Details linked here). The Board decided that the Korean company LG Electronics was entitled to a trademark because, contrary to the Examiner’s opinion, there was no immediate reason for members of the public to derive the meaning from the trademark from the four letters. The Board considered that the original trademark examiner in refusing the trademark had “artificially dissected” the trademark QNET into particular letters and then “tried to attribute a particular meaning to these single letters”. The Board pointed out that the Examiner did not provide any single proof on the perception of the sign as a whole (ʻQNEDʼ) by the relevant public.

Trademarks cannot be registered if they “consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or of rendering of the service, or other characteristics of the goods or service are not to be registered” according to Art 7(1)(c) of the European Trade Mark Regulation. This was not the case in the current application.

It is true that the trademarks QLED and QLED TV had been refused registration in Europe because they were considered to be easily recognizable to members of the public, but this was not the case in the current QNED case.

The decision is interesting since it contains discussions of the extent to which the letter Q would be considered to be an abbreviation of “quantum” and also notes that the term “quantum” has a number of different meanings. Any applicant wishing to use the letter Q or the word “quantum” in their brand name has received some useful guidance.

The decision only applies to the registration of trademarks in Europe but contains some useful arguments that can be used in other countries to support the registration of “quantum” trademarks. We can advise on worldwide brand name protection. Please get in touch if you have a proposed brand name that you would like to register as a trademark.

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