Dutch snack bar prevents ‘Wendy’s’ entry into Benelux

Dutch snack bar prevents ‘Wendy’s’ entry into Benelux
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Fans of Wendy’s fast food in Belgium will have to keep waiting for the American burger chain to open in the country after the brand came up against another obstacle to entering the Benelux region.

In a recent court case, Wendy’s tried to get hold of its trademark name in the region which is currently held by ‘Wendy’s,’ a fish and chip shop in Zeeland which has held onto the Benelux trademark since 1988.

The US-owned Wendy’s argued that the mark should be declared lapsed as it has not been properly used by the Zeeland snack bar. But a Dutch court has ruled in favour of the small snack bar.

Effectively, this decision by the Court of Appeal means the chain cannot operate in Belgium, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg.

“Since the 90s, the snack bar owner and the American chain have been involved in proceedings about the question of who has legal ownership of the Wendy’s trademark,” the website of the Dutch courts explains.

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The base of the claim says that the Dutch Wendy’s doesn’t use the trademark “in a normal way,” which could render it void 5 years after the date of registration. “This rule should prevent trademark owners with unused exclusive rights from occupying the register and blocking the way for third parties.”

This debate has been ongoing since 2000 when the US chain tried to first get the rights to the name through lawsuits, HLN reports. In 2017 it tried again and lost, only to launch the most recent appeal which was also quashed.

“The snack bar normally uses the brand for its services on the fast-food market. This is apparent from, among other things, the visibility of the logo on the facade, packaging material and receipts,” the court stated. “In addition, the brand is also used on company clothing and in sponsorship activities. Contrary to what the American chain argues, it is not a requirement for normal use that a neighbourhood snack bar has multiple branches or is promoted outside the region.”

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