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BGH: Hard Rock Cafe TrademarkLaw

Federal Court of Justice decides in the dispute between the globally active Hard Rock Group and the “Hard Rock Cafe Heidelberg

(Source: Press release of the BGH No. 136/2013)

The “Hard Rock Cafe Heidelberg” may continue to operate under this name, but no items marked with the internationally known “Hard Rock Cafe” logo may be sold there any longer. This was decided by the First Civil Senate of the German Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible for competition and trademark law, in its ruling of August 15, 2013 – I ZR 188/11 – Hard Rock Café.

The first plaintiff, which belongs to the globally active Hard Rock Group, operates Hard Rock Cafés in Berlin, Munich and Cologne. The second plaintiff is the owner of numerous word and word/figurative marks “Hard Rock Cafe”. The first defendant, whose managing director is the third defendant, operates a restaurant under the name “Hard Rock Cafe Heidelberg”. When it came to furnishing and decorating the restaurant, its founders had deliberately taken their cue from the “Hard Rock Cafe” that opened in London in 1971. At least since 1978, the 1st defendant has been using the typical circular hard rock logo of the 2nd plaintiff in food and drink menus and on glasses. It uses the phrase “Hard Rock Cafe” and the logo as an entrance sign, on the front door and in the windows of its restaurant, and offers merchandise that also bears that logo. The plaintiffs first registered their logo as a trademark for clothing in Germany in late 1986; their first German hard rock café opened in Berlin in 1992. Immediately thereafter, the plaintiffs obtained a temporary restraining order against the defendant, but withdrew the application for its issuance after the defendant objected.

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