Masaki MIKAMI reports about a dispute over figurative trademarks in Japan. The case at hand concerns a trademark application for the following figurative mark applied for class 25:
Against this sign an opposition was filed by the German sportswear manufacturer PUMA on the ground of the following early famous sign in class 25 too:
Puma has been using this sign for most of its sports shoes since 1958. The company submitted evidence for the available reputation of its mark in Japan, amongst other annual sales of 15 billion yen and 4% market share.
The Patent Office agreed that the earlier sign has a strong reputation in the market. In the assessment of the signs, the Office concluded significant similarities to the extent that the new sign can be perceived as a reversed version of the earlier sign.
Taking into account the identity and similarity between the goods in both marks, the Office considered both marks as similar enough to create consumer confusion about the source of trade origin.