Doublemint Cannot be Trademarked, EU Lawyer Tells Wrigley

14 April 2003

Wm Wrigley Jr’s popular Doublemint chewing gum does not have a sufficiently imaginative name to warrant trademark protection.

So says European Union advocate general Francis Jacobs, who has advised that Wrigley’s attempts to gain an EU-wide mark for Doublemint – trademarked in the US for over a century – be rejected.

“The placing of a qualifier such as ‘double’ before a characteristic such as ‘mint’ is not structurally or syntactically unusual,” Jacobs declared, dismissing Wrigley’s argument that the combination does more than describe the product’s characteristics and helps consumers identify the brand.

The EU High Court, which follows the advocate general’s advice in around 80% of cases, will make a final ruling on the matter later this year. European trademark officials first rejected Wrigley’s attempts to gain an EU-wide mark for Doublemint in 1998, after which Wrigley successfully appealed in the Union’s second-highest court, leading to the current case.

Despite the legal battle, the brand is already trademarked on a national basis in fourteen of the fifteen EU member states. However, Wrigley is keen to get a mark across the Union to save time and money pursuing infringements, as it would then have to deal with only one authority.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff