The European Court has ruled in the case T‑463/20, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Ltd v Wai Leong Wong, which focuses our attention on the role of stylized elements in the process of trademarks comparison.
In 2017, Mr. Wai Leong Wong file an application for EU trademark GT RACING for class 18: ‘Leather and imitations of leather and goods made of these materials (not included in other classes) namely leather bags, cases, holdalls, rucksacks, wallets, purses, luggage and suitcases; bags; sports bags; trunks and travelling bags; vanity cases; holdalls, back packs and rucksacks; wallets, key cases, purses and pouches; credit card cases, business card cases; tote bags, bottle bags, record bags, book bags; handbags; shopping bags; cases, luggage and suitcases, weekend bags; briefcases; umbrellas and walking sticks; golf umbrellas; parts, fittings and accessories for all the aforesaid goods’.
Against this application, SONY filed an opposition based on the following earlier rights:
- A figurative EU mark No 820738 for classes 9, 16, 28:
- A word EU mark for GRAN TURISMO NETWORK, No 2261873 for classes 9, 16, 28, 41 и 42
- A combined EU mark No 12340981 for classes 9, 16, 28 и 41:
- A combined EU mark No 12341061 for classes 9, 16, 28 и 41:
- Unregistered EU trademarks for the above signs used in ralation to different goods and services for video gaming.
According to the EUIPO the cited earlier trademarks are not similar to the mark applied for. Most of the word parts in these trademarks are completely different. When it comes to the element GT, the Office considered that it is not similar to the figurative trademark No 820738 because there is no phonetic, visual, and conceptual similarity.
The reason for this conclusion is that the earlier mark is stylized in such a way that requires from consumers a serious imagination in order to discover the letters GT. Most likely most consumers will recognize this sign only as an abstract and unitary shape
The European Court upheld this decision in its entirety.