INDITEX, the company that owns the world known fashion stores ZARA, won an interesting trademark opposition in Japan.
The dispute concerns an application by a Chinese company for trademark Zarbleu for class 25 – shirts, trousers, outers, skirts, dresses, T-shirts, underwear, headgear, gloves, coats, and other clothing.
Against this application, INDITEX filed an opposition based on its early registered trademark ZARA for class 25.
According to the company, both signs were confusingly similar, which claim was enhanced by the available longstanding reputation of ZARA as a brand in Japan.
The Japanese Patent Office agreed that the reputation of the earlier mark was proved successfully.
Surprisingly, however, the Office considered both marks as confusingly similar too. The argument for this conclusion was the fact that both share one and the same prefix ZAR. according to the Office this was crucial for the assessment because consumers pay more attention to the beginning of the words. Taking into account the reputation of the earlier mark, the possibility for confusion was available.
That’s an interesting decision. For example, in the EU the practice for such assessment takes into consideration the beginning of the marks too. However, the final conclusion whether two signs are similar or not depends on their entire perception. The reason for this is the fact that consumers rarely pay attention to all details of one trademark when they purchase the relevant products.
Source: Marks IP, Masaki MIKAMI.
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Poor judgment brings appeal