The Hague District Court recently issued a preliminary ruling in which it held that Lacoste could not invoke its famous crocodile trademark in order to prohibit the use of a crocodile motif on children's underwear. This preliminary judgment is one of only a few examples in which the use of a sign has been considered purely decorative (and thus could not be perceived as trademark use). Typically, the courts are restrictive in accepting such a defence.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently rendered its decision in the dispute between Dutch parties Levola and Smilde concerning Levola's cream cheese product. The Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal had referred a number of prejudicial questions to the ECJ – in particular, whether a taste can be eligible for copyright protection. Among other things, Levola argued that disallowing copyright protection for the taste of foodstuffs would be contrary to Dutch Supreme Court case law.
The Hague District Court recently rendered an interim judgment in a matter between Dutch limited liability company McGregor IP BV and adidas. The key question in this case was whether adidas – in using the name of a sports hero on items such as hoodies, shorts and jerseys – had infringed McGregor IP's trademark rights. Notably, the outcome of this matter could have been different had the design and display of the signs at issue been different.
In May 2017 the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Appellate Court referred questions regarding which kinds of object can be classified as copyrightable works to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The case addresses the interesting question of whether certain tastes can be protected under copyright law (the specific taste for which protection was sought was Levola's popular cheese product Heks'nkaas). Advocate General Wathelet recently advised the ECJ not to allow tastes to be granted copyright protection.
The Hague District Court recently had to assess whether a natural person could be held accountable for a company's trademark and copyright infringement. Although the court could not establish whether the person was an official director of the infringing company, this did not stand in the way of his liability. In accordance with Supreme Court case law, liability can arise where a party plays a substantial part in the policy of a company that acts unlawfully and behaves as if they are a director of the company.