To love Y is not as to fly

heart-shape-1714807_960_720.jpgThe European Court ruled in case C‑99/18 P, FTI Touristik GmbH v Harald Prantner и Daniel Giersch, which in brief concerns an attempt by both individuals to register the following European trademark:

download.pngIts classes of goods and services are as follow:

– Class 16: “Printed matter; photographs; stationery; wrapping materials; printed publications; books; handbooks [manuals]; pamphlets; newsletters; albums; newspapers; magazines and periodicals; tickets; vouchers; coupons and travel documents; passes; tags and labels; posters; postcards; calendars; diaries; instructional material”;

–  Class 39: “Transport; travel arrangement; travel information; provision of car parking facilities; transportation of goods, passengers and travelers by air, land, sea and rail; airline and shipping services; airport check-in services; arranging of transportation for passengers, goods and trips by land and sea; airline services; baggage handling services; cargo handling and freight services; arranging, operating and providing facilities for cruises, tours, excursions and vacations; aircraft chartering; rental and hire of aircraft, cars and boats; taxi services; bus services; chauffeuring; coach services; train services; airport transfer services; airport parking services; aircraft parking services; escorting of travellers; travel agency services; advisory, consultancy and information services relating to all the aforesaid services; providing information regarding transportation services; providing travel information online; travel booking via computer databases or the Internet”;

–  Class 43: “Services for providing food and drink, temporary accommodation; restaurant and bar services; food and drink catering; provision of holiday accommodation; booking and reservation services for restaurants and holiday accommodation; hotels and/or restaurants; reservations in connection with running hotels.”

Against this application, an opposition was filed by FTI Touristik on the ground of the following early registered European trademark for classes 16, 39, 41, 43:

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EUIPO ruled that there is no significant similarity between the signs at hand, stating that:

“Phonetically, it found, in essence, that for the public that did not know the English term “fly”, the signs at issue bore no similarity. For consumers that did know the English word “fly”, there was a phonetic similarity provided that the mark applied for was associated with the word “fly”. However, this seemed rather unlikely since, first, there was a great difference between the letter “y” and the stylised heart in the mark applied for and, secondly, it was unusual to replace the letter “y” with a heart symbol. Conceptually, it found, that, for the public that did not know the English term “fly”, the signs at issue bore no similarity. For consumers that did know and understand the English word “fly”, there was a conceptual similarity provided that the word “fly” was identified in the mark applied for. However, this seemed unlikely for the same reasons as those set out in the context of the assessment of the phonetic similarity.”

The decision was appealed.

The European court agreed with EUIPO dismissing the appeal. Most consumers will not understand an image of the heart in the later mark as Y letter. Even in case that this is possible the additional element .de in the earlier mark is sufficient to make the necessary distinction between the signs.

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Uber won a dispute in the UK

london-722520_960_720Uber succeeded in an opposition procedure against the following UK trademark application:

GB50000000003168791.jpg

This sign was filed for the following goods and services:

In Class 9: Mobile phones and accessories; batteries; battery charges; media for storing
information, data, signals, images and/or sounds; photographic apparatus and instruments; parts and fittings for the aforesaid goods.

In Class 35: Retail services connected with the sale of mobile phones and accessories;
batteries; battery charges; media for storing information, data, signals, images and/or sounds; photographic apparatus and instruments; parts and fittings for the aforesaid goods”.

In Class 38: Advisory and consultancy services relating to communications apparatus,
equipment and accessories; rental and hire of communications apparatus, equipment, and accessories; provision of information relating to communications apparatus, equipment and accessories”.

Uber invoked a family of earlier Uber trademarks against this application, for the same classes, stating possible consumer confusion.

According to the UKIPO the goods and services of the marks were identical or complementary.

The applicant tried to claim that Uberfone poses a specific meaning in German which is to something “superb or happy”.

The Office dismissed it considering that the German language is not so popular in the UK and most of the people wouldn’t be able to get the meaning.

Taking into account the phonetic and visual similarities between the signs, the UKIPO upheld the opposition.

Source: WIPR.

China tries to combat trademark applications filed in bad-faith

wood-door-1711004_960_720.jpgRecently China has introduced some amendments to its trademark law which main aim is to fight against the widespread practice in the country trademark applications to be filed in quantity without any intention for real use.

Because of this, according to the new amendments, every applicant will have to declare intent of use otherwise the application will be refused. What’s more, this will be a ground for oppositions and invalidations against the mark. So far, if one trademark has not been used for 3 years it can be subject to invalidation. Now, this can happen even earlier.

Apart from this, damages awarded by the courts in case of trademark infringements are increased significantly. The procedure for ceasing and destruction of countrified goods becomes more efficient.

Source: IPKat.

Huawei files trademark applications for its new HongMeng OS

technology-3033809_960_720.jpgAs it is well-known the Chinese tech company Huawei has serious problems recently in the light of the trade conflict between The US and China. After a decision by Donald Trump, many US companies were been pushed to limit its work with Huawei.

One of those companies is Google which has announced that the Chinese company won’t be able to use its Android OS in the future. That’s why Huawei considers launching a new replacement OS for its smartphones called HongMeng.

Because of this Huawei has filed many trademark applications for that name in different countries around the world such as The UK, Norway, Switzerland, The EU, Philippines, etc. The US, however, is not one of them so far.

How important trademark disclaimers are?

midsummer-2263200_960_720.jpgThe European Court has ruled in case C‑705/17 Patent- och registreringsverket v Mats Hansson.

In nutshell, this case concerns whether disclaimers regarding the trademark scope of protection have to be taken into consideration for the purpose of trademark assessment. What exactly happened?

Swedish company Norrtelje Brenneri Aktiebolag registered in 2007 the following trademark in Class 33 of the Nice Agreement:

That registration was accompanied by a disclaimer stating that ‘registration does not give an exclusive right over the word RoslagsPunsch’. The disclaimer was required by the Swedish Patent Office as a condition of registration of the trademark because the term ‘Roslags’ refers to a region of Sweden and the term ‘Punsch’ describes one of the goods covered by the registration.

Mr Hansson, as an individual, applied in 2015 for registration of the word mark ‘ROSLAGSÖL’ in Sweden for goods in Class 32, in particular non-alcoholic beverages and beers.

The Swedish Patent Office rejected the application for registration because of the likelihood of confusion between the new application and the earlier trademark. The problem was that the term ‘Roslags’ is descriptive. The fact that both signs also included other words or figurative elements did not reduce the similarity. Moreover, the signs referred to identical or similar products which address the same customers.

Mr Hansson appealed this decision before the Patents and Market Court, arguing that there was no likelihood of confusion between the signs in question. As regards the effect of the disclaimer relating to the earlier trademark on the outcome of the action, the Patent Office argued before that court that an element of a trademark which has been excluded from protection by means of a disclaimer must in principle be regarded as not distinctive. In the present case, registration of the earlier trade mark had been granted with such a disclaimer because the trademark included a term that was descriptive of a geographical region, ‘Roslags’.

However, The Patent Office’s practice concerning the non-distinctive character of geographical names had developed in the meantime, putting into practice the conclusions in paragraphs 31 and 32 of the judgment of 4 May 1999, Windsurfing Chiemsee(C‑108/97 and C‑109/97, EU:C:1999:230). The term ‘Roslags’ was now capable of registration in itself as a trademark and was distinctive for the goods at issue in the present case so that it could even dominate the overall impression given by the earlier trade mark. It thus followed from a global assessment of the signs at issue that because of the common element ‘Roslags’ the relevant public could have the impression that the goods referred to by those signs had the same commercial origin.

The Patents and Market Court allowed Mr Hansson’s application and approved the registration of his sign as a trademark, finding that there was no likelihood of confusion. The court also stated that, despite the disclaimer, the terms to which it related had to be taken into account in the assessment of that likelihood, in so far as they could have an effect on the overall impression created by the earlier trade mark, and hence on the extent of protection of that mark. According to the court, the purpose of the disclaimer was to make it clear that the exclusive right deriving from registration of the earlier trade mark did not relate to the terms referred to as such.

The Patent Office appealed against the judgment of the court to the Svea Court of Appeal, Patents and Market Court of Appeal, Stockholm, Sweden.

That court explains that in its view Directive 2008/95 and the associated case-law confirm that the substantive rules on the protection of a national trade mark are in principle fully harmonized at the level of EU law, while the procedural rules are within the competence of the Member States. It therefore asks whether a national rule allowing a disclaimer to be made may be categorised as a procedural rule, even though it has the effect of changing the criteria on which is based the global assessment to be carried out in order to examine the likelihood of confusion within the meaning of Article 4(1)(b) of that directive.

That court is uncertain whether that provision, having regard in particular to the settled case-law of the Court according to which the assessment of the likelihood of confusion must be based on an overall impression and the perceptions of consumers play a dominant part in the global assessment of that likelihood, may be interpreted as meaning that a disclaimer can affect that assessment because an element of the earlier trade mark was, at the time of registration, expressly excluded from protection by means of that disclaimer, so that that element must be given less importance in the analysis of the overall impression than it would have had in the absence of the disclaimer.

So the Svea Court of Appeal, Patents and Market Court of Appeal decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court for a preliminary ruling:

‘(1)  Must Article 4(1)(b) of [Directive 2008/95] be interpreted as meaning that the global assessment of all relevant factors which is to be made in an assessment of the likelihood of confusion may be affected by the fact that an element of the trade mark has expressly been excluded from protection on registration, that is to say, that a so-called disclaimer has been entered on registration?

(2) If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, can the disclaimer in such a case affect the global assessment in such a way that the competent authority has regard to the element in question but gives it a more limited importance so that it is not regarded as being distinctive, even if the element would de facto be distinctive and prominent in the earlier trade mark?

(3) If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative and the answer to the second question in the negative, can the disclaimer even so affect the global assessment in any other way?’

The European Court’s decision:

Article 4(1)(b) of Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as precluding national legislation making provision for a disclaimer whose effect would be to exclude an element of a complex trade mark, referred to in that disclaimer, from the global analysis of the relevant factors for showing the existence of a likelihood of confusion within the meaning of that provision, or to attribute to such an element, in advance and permanently, limited importance in that analysis.

Breaking news – Brazil is on the way to access the Madrid Protocol

brazil-3001462_960_720.pngMarques Class 46 reports about the forthcoming accession of Brazil to the Madrid Protocol for international registration of trademarks. The bill for that purpose has already been approved by the Parliament. Now The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to sign it in order Brazil to access the Madrid System.

This is a huge step for the country when it comes to trademark registration and it is a significant convenience for all companies that have an interest in the local market. The reason is that through Madrid Protocol you can register a trademark for Brazil easier and cheaper. Brazil is one of the few big economies that haven’t been part of the Madrid system so far. Fortunately, this will be changed as it is in the case of Canada too.

For more information here.

A successful indigo battle for O2 in The UK

telephone-booth-768610_960_720.jpgThe UK telecom O2 successfully won an opposition against a UK trademark application for Indigo Blue applied for class 41:

Arranging and conducting of concerts; Services for the showing of video recordings; Services providing entertainment in the form of live musical performances; Showing of prerecorded entertainment; Singing concert services; Song publishing; Song writing services; Songwriting; Sound recording and video entertainment services; Sound recording services; Sound recording studio services; Music concerts; Music entertainment services; Music festival services; Music performance services; Music performances; Music production; Music publishing; Music publishing and music recording services; Music publishing services; Music recording studio services; Musical concert services; Musical concerts by radio; Musical concerts by television; Musical entertainment services; Musical performances; Entertainer services; Entertainer services provided by musicians; Entertainment; Entertainment by means of concerts; Entertainment by means of radio; Entertainment by means of roadshows; Entertainment by means of telephone; Entertainment by means of television; Entertainment in the form of live musical performances (Services providing – );Entertainment in the form of recorded music (Services providing -);Entertainment in the form of television programmes (Services providing -);Entertainment services; Entertainment services for matching users with audio and video recordings; Entertainment services for matching users with computer games; Entertainment services for producing live shows; Entertainment services for sharing audio and video recordings; Entertainment services in the form of concert performances; Entertainment services in the form of musical vocal group performances; Entertainment services performed by a musical group; Entertainment services performed by musicians; Entertainment services performed by singers; Entertainment services provided by a music group; Entertainment services provided by a musical group; Entertainment services provided by a musical vocal group; Entertainment services provided by performing artists; Entertainment services provided by vocalists.

O2 invoked rights over several of its earlier EU trademarks for INDIGO  and INDIGO2 for the same class.

According to the UKIPO, both signs are very similar because of the word INDIGO. The difference between them is the word Blue and the number 2.

From a conceptual point of view, the trademarks are almost identical bearing in mind that for some of the consumers Indigo is a shade of blue. A slight difference can arise only if Indigo is perceived as purple. However, even in that case, both colors are closed.

Taking into account that the first part of the marks is identical, the UKIPO uphold the opposition in its entirety.

This is yet another case which comes to show how important is preliminary trademark clearance search. This search can help a lot in the assessment of the chances one sign has to be registered as a trademark and from another hand to avoid eventual disputes.

It is always advisable to do your homework before to file an application. This will save you time and money.

Source: WIPR.