How powerful Mickey Mouse’s silhouette is – a trademark dispute from Japan

Masaki Mikami reports about one interesting trademark conflict from Japan. The disputer at hand concerns the following application for a combined trademark for class 35 – retail or wholesales service in relation to confectionery, processed foods, and beverage (tea, coffee, cocoa):

Against this application, an opposition was filed by Disney Enterprises, Inc. based on the following figurative trademark, for which a reputation was claimed:

The Patent Office dismissed the opposition in its entirety although acknowledging the existing reputation of the earlier sign in Japan.

According to the Office, both signs are not similar from a visual point of view because one of them contains word elements and because the graphic representation is depicted upside down.

Phonetically, the marks are not similar because only the latter one can be pronounced whereas the earlier one has no phonetic structure at all.

Conceptually, both signs are not similar. While the applied-for mark has meaning, Disney’s sign has no inherent meaning.

Based on this, the Office concludes that there is no similarity between the signs which is capable to trigger consumer confusion.