One of the biggest software companies in the world Salesforce lost a trademark dispute in the UK.
The case concerns a trademark application filed by Syft Online for “SyftForce” for classes 9 (computer software), 35 (personnel placement and recruitment services, 38 ( telecommunications services), 41 (education services) and 42 (software as a service).
Against this application an opposition was filed by Salesforce based on earlier trademarks for SALESFORCE and SOCIALFORCE for similar goods and services.
The UKIPO focused its attention only on the SALESFORCE earlier mark. According to the Office both signs have some visual and phonetic similarities. However this is not enough for a general conclusion that the mark applied for can create a consumer confusion.
The reason for this was the fact that the shared part in both signs – FORCE has low distinctive character in regard to the goods and services covered by the new trademark application.
Based on this the Office dismissed the opposition in its entirety.
The case is a good example for words with low distinctiveness that are used as trademarks. In some cases such words cannot be protected at all. In other cases, when they are part of complex trademarks with more words or graphics, they can weak their protection abilities.