Bodum USA Inc. v. Meyer Housewares Canada Inc.

Bodum sued for inter alia, infringement of its “FRENCH PRESS” trade-mark, and Meyer counterclaimed for invalidity. The Court held that the trade-mark registration is not valid and expunged it from the Register, granting the counterclaim and dismissing the action.

The case turned on the issue of distinctiveness. The Court held that “French Press” was “a generic commercial term to describe the type of device and method of brewing coffee before Bodum chose to employ it as a mark in Canada.” Furthermore, CIPO has issued other registrations to third parties, including those words, since the Bodum registration. The Court also found this case to be similar to those where a company is trying to appropriate words from a language for their exclusive use, rather than a situation where a made-up name becomes distinctive. Thus, the Court held the term was not distinctive at any time. Furthermore, it was held to be clearly descriptive.