The General Court issued its judgment on May 8, 2024, in Case T-758/22. The case involved Puma SE as the applicant, the EUIPO as the defendant, and Fujian Daocheng Electronic Commerce Co. Ltd as the other party to the proceedings.

Puma SE sought to annul a decision by the Third Board of Appeal of the EUIPO, which had upheld the registration of a Community design for a shoe by Fujian Daocheng. Puma argued that the contested design lacked individual character, citing several earlier designs and products.

The legal context of the case hinged on Articles 25(1)(b) and 6(1) of Regulation (EC) No 6/2002, which address the invalidity of a Community design based on a lack of individual character. According to these articles, a design is considered to have individual character if it produces a different overall impression on an informed user compared to any earlier designs.

The General Court examined whether the earlier designs had been sufficiently disclosed, identifying the informed user as someone with a high level of attention who habitually purchases shoes. The Court also assessed the designer’s degree of freedom in creating shoe designs, finding it to be quite high.

The Court compared the contested design with the earlier designs, considering the overall impressions produced by each. It found that the contested design differed significantly from the earlier designs in terms of decoration, sole structure, and upper features, resulting in different overall impressions for an informed user.

Puma’s argument that the sole should be the primary basis for comparison was rejected. The Court emphasized that the overall impression should be based on the entire design, not just individual parts. Differences in decorative elements, the configuration of the upper, and the sole structure were significant enough to create distinct overall impressions.

Consequently, the General Court dismissed Puma’s action, affirming the Board of Appeal’s decision that the contested design had individual character. Puma SE was ordered to pay the costs incurred in the proceedings.