Hoyng Monegier represented Senz Technologies B.V. (senz°), an innovative company that created the so-called "storm umbrella", withstanding winds of up to 100km/h due to amongst others its asymmetrical shape which allows it to adapt to the ever changing wind position.
In 2011, Hoyng Monegier already successfully defended the patent rights on the storm umbrella against a claim from Impliva B.V., a company that wishes to enter the market with copycat storm umbrellas. The current design right dispute was initiated by Impliva as well, applying for a declaration of invalidity of two Community design rights of senz° at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) due to lack of individual character when compared to an asymmetrical umbrella in an earlier US patent. Both the Invalidity Division as well as the Board of Appeal of the EUIPO agreed with Impliva and held that the Community design rights were invalid.
senz° appealed the decision of the BoA at the General Court of the European Union. In its judgment of 21 may 2015 the General Court annulled the decision of the BoA. The Court held that the contested Community designs possess individual character as they produce a different overall impression on the informed user when compared to the umbrella as shown in the US patent.
Importantly, both the overhead view, the view from underneath as well as the lateral view of the designs compared show significant differences. Moreover, the Court clearly pointed out that the mere fact that both the umbrella in the US patent as well as the contested designs are asymmetrical does not preclude the overall impression produced by the umbrellas from being different. In other words: a specific asymmetrical umbrella is very well capable of being protected by Community design rights.
senz° was represented by Willem Hoyng and Ivy de Bruijn.