A trademark war over the unlikely ground of Swedish pickled gherkins has sparked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) into a potentially important ruling, allowing the views of distributors to be taken into account in such cases.

Gherkin maker Björnekulla has been trying in national courts to force rival Procordia to drop its Bostongurka trademark, which Björnekulla says is a Swedish generic name for chopped pickled gherkins. It backed this with a consumer survey, which Procordia countered with market research amongst the grocery, mass catering and food stall sectors.

Facing contesting claims that these studies were legally irrelevant, the ECJ was asked who should be consulted and ruled that both traders and consumers could help determine such cases.