Abstract symbols used to market clothing must gain recognition amongst consumers before being registered as an EU-wide trademark, the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) Court of First Instance has concluded.

Rejecting an application for the registration of a boomerang-like thick black longitudinal line ending in a triangle for clothing, footwear and headgear, especially sports footwear, the court said it needed to take into account "the share of market held by the mark, the intensity, the geographical extent and the working life of this mark, the importance of the investments made by the company".

In this application, from Spain-based businessman Habib Kachakil Amar, the court concluded "documents produced by the applicant were insufficient to prove that the sign in question had acquired a distinctive character in the EU in connection with the products".

By Keith Nuthall