Once upon a time most of us believed that everything seen or told on television was true … and still news and programs from the national television stations in Denmark are perceived as trustworthy sources. The credibility is actually so important that others try to exploit it.
Many of you may have seen the Danish television documentary program “KONTANT”. In May 2013 this program showed how easy it is to be tricked – you believe that you take part in a free competition, but actually you commit yourself to a subscription for products such as weight loss pills etc. The aim of the program was to warn people against these kinds of tricks and subscriptions which are sometimes extremely difficult to get out of.
One of the tricks used by the sales companies is to write “As seen on TV2” or “As seen on DR1” showing the logos of these two Danish television stations. The intention is to make the products more trustworthy. Typically, the products have not been shown on these television stations, nor have the owners of the logos given their consent to the use of the logos according to “KONTANT”. To such extent the use of the logos – or trademarks, actually – may be an infringement.
The Danish trademark law and the EU legislation are very specific at this point. The main rule is that a trademark may only be used by the owner or someone who has a consent to the use of the trademark. However, other parties’ trademarks may be used, if necessary, to inform possible buyers that a certain product fits with another product. This rule is often used in connection with spare parts, but recently it has also been applied in connection with for example accessories for mobile phones, tablets etc.
In my opinion, using the trademarks as described above, is an infringement of other parties’ trademarks provided that no consent is given. The interesting thing is that this is still a rather new variation of infringement and that this is attractive due to the original intention, namely recognition of the trademarks used. Trademarks are valuable assets and owners thereof must take care that this value is kept on their own hands.
Henriette Vængesgaard Rasch, Attorney at Law