Lastminute.Com Has European Trade Mark Rejected For Some Uses

Online travel company lastminute.com has had its European trade mark revoked for certain kinds of services. The body responsible for Community Trade Marks said that the term was not distinctive enough for some uses.

The Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM), which administers Europe-wide Community Trade Marks (CTMs), has ruled that the company should not be able to trade mark its name in relation to the provision of financial information and information services relating to financial and banking services.

"OHIM’s Cancellation Division found that the registration was partially invalid," said a statement from OHIM. "The Office partly agreed with the applicant in that, for some services, the expression 'lastminute.com' was, if not directly descriptive, at least non-distinctive."

In order to qualify for registration as a trade mark a term must not be generic or descriptive, it must be distinctive. German tour operator L'Tur Tourismus filed an application to have all lastminute.com's trade marks revoked on the grounds that the term was not distinctive.

"The fact that 'last minute' could be used in a descriptive manner and that it had become a common phrase in the English language for any action taken just in time did not preclude the term from being a distinctive trade mark for certain goods and services," argued lastminute.com, according to OHIM.

OHIM ruled that the term was distinctive enough for protection in relation to many kinds of business including auctioneering, financial services and banking, plumbing, cleaning, telecommunications and internet and online database services. The company does not have the trade mark in relation to its main business, though, which is travel.

Lastminute.com last month won the right to block another company's registration of 'last minute tour' for a trade mark. A Brussels court overturned an earlier OHIM ruling which had given the trade mark the green light. The Court said that OHIM had wrongly identified who the 'audience' for the trade mark was.