Almost everyone knows the “WUNDER-BAUM” Tree hanging from the rear view mirror of so many cars. Behind this little air freshener stands a sophisticated trademark strategy the rights holders have followed for many decades. Ever since the 1950s, when founder Julius Sämann created the first automotive air freshener, the company has not only invested in the worldwide promotion of its product but has built a fine trademark portfolio.
Most recently, it was for the German Federal Court of Justice to decide whether this Tree design enjoys protection as a famous trademark. In cases where famousness can be established, the scope of protection is considerably wider than the scope a “normal” trademark may claim.
The German judges held that in light of the substantial market share, the considerable marketing expenses, the presence in the media, the long-lasting use over decades, and the proven prominence of the Tree design, famousness within the meaning of German trademark law cannot be denied. The supreme court therefore lifted the appeal court’s decision and gave clear guidance on what the criteria are to be applied as regards the establishing of a famous trademark.
This victory marks a true highlight in a long-standing client relationship with Julius Sämann Ltd. and the entire WUNDER-BAUM group. The Hogan Lovells team is very glad to have been able to achieve this landmark decision in a joint effort with the client.