A clash of Scottish clans – a General court decision

whiskeyMarques Class 46 reports about an interesting decision of the General court of the EU regarding Case T-250/15, Speciality Drinks Ltd v EUIPO. Briefly this case concerns an attempt for registration of an European word trademark CLAN for Class 33 ‘Alcoholic beverages ( excluding beers and wines); but insofar as whisky and whisky based liqueurs are concerned only Scotch whisky and Scotch whisky based liqueurs produced in Scotland’.

Against this mark an opposition was filed on the ground of an earlier trademark CLAN MACGREGOR for the same goods.

According the applicant of the later mark, the relevant public will put greater attention buying such goods because they are traditional and consumed by connoisseurs.

The court dismissed these arguments because they weren’t supported by necessary evidences due to which accepted that the relevant public would only have an average degree of attention.

The court considered the signs as visually similar based on the identical Clan words presented in both of them at the beginning.

On top of this, the court accepted both marks as similar from conceptual point of view taking into account the fact that the word Clan has a meaning of people belonging to a group or family.

The applicant’s arguments that there were many whisky producers using Clan with the relevant family name which makes Clan low distinctive word were dismissed to. The court considered that those family names make a distinction between the marks and in the present case the lack of such name supports the conclusion for similarity between the signs which are for identical goods too.

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