Visa lost a trademark dispute in Japan

One of the biggest companies in the world for electronic payment services VISA has had some trademark troubles in Japan recently.

 SmartHR, Inc. file a trademark application for AIR VISA in classes 9, 35, 39, and 42. The company offers services related to online working visa applications and residence status management.

Against this application, an opposition was filed by VISA based on their famous earlier mark VISA used card payments.

The Pajan Patent Office dismissed the opposition finding no likelihood of consumer confusion. According to the Office, both signs were not similar from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view. The reason was the word AIR used in the mark applied for that created a different perception.

What’s more the word Visa has a particular meaning related to a document that allows entering or leaving one country. So consumers will understand this meaning clearly and in combination with AIt there will be no ground for confusion.

Regarding the claimed reputation of the earlier mark. the Office agreed that it was proven for card payments but doubted that this is the case with computer programs for online payment services, at least based on the produced evidence.

Source: Masaki Mikami, Marks IP Law Firm.


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