On 22 March 2013, the EU General Court upheld two Board of Appeal decisions, which had refused the registration as three-dimensional trademarks of the external shape of two handbags produced by the high end Italian manufacturer Bottega Veneta.
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According to the General Court, in order to determine whether the shape of a bag has the distinctive character required for its registration as a three-dimensional trademark, the test is whether the bag "deviates significantly…from the standard or customs of the sector and, therefore, allows the consumer to identify the bag, corresponding to the trademark applied for, as originating from a particular undertaking, and thus to distinguish it from bags produced by other companies ".
The Court found that the overall shape of the bags (including the position of the handle and lack of a purse lock) was only a "simple variation" of bags commonly available on the market.
The Court also stated that it is, in general, harder to establish the distinctive character of a three-dimensional trademark, as the average consumer is not in the habit of determining the origin of a product based on its shape, particularly if there are no graphical elements.
The Court did not take into consideration the plaited surface of the bag, as the applicant failed to describe this particular feature within in its application.