EU top court backs Audi in trademark dispute with spare parts firm

BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – The European Union’s top court has ruled in favour of Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE), opens new tab Audi in a dispute that could limit the ability of spare parts manufacturers to use markings similar to an automaker’s logo.
The case, brought before a court in Warsaw, involves an online Polish retailer that sold spare radiator grilles adapted for older Audi models which contained a carved out space for Audi’s four-ring logo.

Audi contested that design and the Warsaw court asked the EU’s Court of Justice whether, as holder of the trademark, Audi could prohibit the sale of the parts.
The EU court said the use of the shape similar to Audi’s logo, without its consent, was liable to infringe trademark law.
“(The shape) is visible to the public wishing to purchase such a spare part. That could constitute a material link between the spare part in question and the proprietor of the AUDI trade mark,” the court said, leaving the final decision on the case to the Polish court.

Reporting by Piotr Lipinski Editing by Mark Potter