EUIPO has ruled recently in a dispute where Louis Vuitton tried to defend its famous abbreviation LV in the EU.
The case at hand concerns an application by one individual for the following figurative European trademarks in classes 25 and 26:
Against this application, an opposition was filed by Louis Vuitton based on the following earlier mark for the same classes of goods:
According to the company, both signs were confusingly similar for identical and similar goods especially in the light of the reputation attached to Louis Vuitton’s famous abbreviation.
Surprisingly or not so, the EUIPO dismissed the opposition finding the marks dissimilar.
According to the Office:
In the present case, the goods assumed to be identical are directed at the public at large and at business customers with specific professional knowledge or expertise.
The degree of attention varies from average to above average, bearing in mind that part of the goods concerned have a rather specialised nature and that they can have an impact on the final products manufactured by the users, and consequently on the users’ business.
The Office found that both signs share only L as a common letter in the abbreviations in common stylization while the other letters were different which was stressed by the presence of the words LOVES VITTORIO too.
The Office concluded that:
The signs are visually and aurally similar to a very low degree and conceptually not similar.
This is not sufficient to lead to a likelihood of confusion, especially considering that the other letter is different (‘V/N’) and the quite remarkable presence of additional words in the contested sign. As already introduced above, the mere use of a similar stylisation, in presence of different elements of the signs, is not sufficient to lead the relevant public to think that the goods at issue can originate from the same or a economically linked undertaking. In fact, it is to be noted that consumers when encountering a fanciful stylisation of a verbal element tend to find the easiest way to address it and, based on their common knowledge and previous experience of the market, will tend to perceive a sign beyond its stylisation as a string of letters forming a verbal element. Therefore, despite their stylisation, the relevant public will be able to perceive immediately the letters ‘LV’ (or ‘VL’) in the earlier mark and ‘NL’ (or ‘LN’) in the contested sign. As explained above, the earlier mark is a short mark and the fact that it has only one letter in common with the first two letters of the contested sign is a relevant factor to consider when evaluating the likelihood of confusion between the conflicting signs: the signs are not sufficiently similar to lead to a likelihood of confusion.
The EUIPO dismissed the claimed reputation of the earlier mark because Louis Vuitton hadn’t submitted the necessary evidence for that purpose in the prescribed term.