Trademark Protection vs. Fair Competition

The Delicate Equilibrium: Trademark Rights vs. Fair Competition

In the realm of European Union trade mark law, the clash between safeguarding the rights of trademark owners, exemplified by Audi, and facilitating fair competition, as embodied by a natural person, G.Q., unfolds a complex narrative. This discourse aims to unravel this intricate balance, ensuring accessibility for all.


Trademark law, a pillar of commercial regulation, grants trademark proprietors like Audi exclusive dominion over the use of their marks, shielding against consumer confusion and preserving brand integrity. Yet, this exclusivity encounters a counterforce in fair use practices, fostering equitable market dynamics. The case of G.Q. navigating the resale of genuine Audi spare parts scrutinizes this very balance.

Exploring the Legal Terrain

Within the European Union, the Court of Justice (CJEU) delineates the contours of this symbiotic relationship between design and trademark law. While the repair clause safeguards trademark exclusivity, it also acknowledges permissible third-party use for indicating product purpose, navigating the fine line between protectionism and fair competition.

Implications in the Automotive Sector

The automotive industry emerges as a crucible of legal intricacies, where the interplay of trademark law and market dynamics shapes consumer choices. The nuanced exception for spare parts underscores the EU’s commitment to brand integrity, ensuring that trademark rights harmonize with market exigencies.


In essence, the legal discourse encapsulates a dynamic equilibrium, where trademark protection converges with fair competition imperatives. The CJEU’s rulings serve as lodestars, delineating the boundaries of lawful trademark use, and underscoring the pivotal role of trademarks in preserving brand identity. This narrative, permeated with legal nuances, serves as a beacon, illuminating the evolving landscape of trademark law within the European Union.