Trade mark decision

BL Number
Decision date
3 February 2003
Hearing Officer
Mr M Foley
Robert McBride Limited
Unilever Plc
Section 3(1)(b), (c) & (d)


Section 3(1)(b) - Opposition successful

Section 3(1)(c) & (d) - Not considered

Points Of Interest

  • Acceptance by the applicants that their mark was not distinctive.


The opponents opposition was based on the premise that it is normal practice for manufacturers to provide cleaning preparations for domestic use in tablet and block form, quite often in, two or even three colours to indicate active ingredients which have a dual action or which perform a dual function. The opponents filed evidence to confirm their claims that yellow is often used to indicate a lemon or citrus content and green to indicate a biological function.

At the hearing the applicants submitted that while they did not press strongly the claim that marks of this nature were distinctive, a number of competitors had filed similar marks and they, therefore, had been forced to file their own colour combination marks to defend their position. The Hearing Officer expressed some sympathy with this view but said each mark had to be treated on its own merits bearing in mind the particular facts that were placed before him.

After reviewing a number of decided cases and taking account of the evidence which was before him the Hearing Officer concluded that the mark was devoid of distinctive character and therefore not capable of distinguishing or denoting trade origin. Opposition thus succeeded.

Full decision O/032/03 PDF document29Kb