Phonetics, alcoholic drinks and an EU Court decision

pexels-photo.jpgThis spring the General Court of the EU issued an intriguing decision on the case Case T-15/17 where a European trademark application for YAMAS for alcoholic drinks was successfully opposed by an earlier mark LLAMA for the same goods.

The EUIPO upheld the opposition concluding that although there is only a low visual similarity between the signs at hand and no conceptual such, they are confusingly similar due to the high level of phonetic similarity in particular for the Spanish speaking consumers in the EU. The reasons behind it were based on the nature of the goods. When a consumer orders such drinks, this happens in noisy restaurants, clubs etc, which requires only oral ordering. Most of the time the consumer even doesn’t see the branded goods.

From that point of view, phonetic similarity has a predominant role in the assessment process and can lead to a consumer confusion.

The Court upheld this decision.

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WIPO Magazine issue 4

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WIPO published the 4th issue of the WIPO Magazine, where you can find the following:

  • GII 2018: energizing the world with innovation
  • COCOpyright and the value of moral rights
  • The role of IP rights in the fashion business: a US perspective
  • Strengthening Africa’s audio-visual sector: market intelligence is critical
  • Ethics, technology and the future of humanity

For more information here.

Brief IP news

briefs_1131.   First Edition of the EUIPO Trade Mark and Design Education Programme. For more information here.

2. Pharmaceuticals: European Commission refines intellectual property rules. For more information here. 

3. Vtree Energy: Building a solar future through intellectual property. For more information here.

Source: Intellectual Property Center at the UNWE. More information can be found here

Brief IP news

briefs_1131. CJEU in C-395/16, Doceram vs. CeramTec, interprets the concept of technically required features of appearance excluded from protection under Community designs Regulation. For more information here.

2. Colour it mine: protecting colour trademarks. For more information here.

3.  Euro-PCT Guide: PCT procedure at the EPO. For more information here.

Source: Intellectual Property Center at the UNWE. More information can be found here

Marks, furniture, and distinctiveness in Finland

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Marques Class 46 (information by Suvi Haavisto) reports about an interesting case regarding trademark lawsuit in Finland.

Laulumaa Huonekalut Oy, a furniture producer, filed a trademark infringement claim against Pohjanmaan Kaluste Oy, claiming that this company had been using its registered combine trademarks SARA, OLIVIA and SOFIA (in class 20) for branding different items of furniture.  Laulumaa asked the Court to order Pohjanmaan to cease the infringement and a compensation to be paid.

Pohjanmaan rejected this claim stating that those names were widespread in Finland for branding furniture for many years so in light of this they are not distinctive.

The Court allied with Pohjanmaan confirming that the names are not distinctive. The scope of protection of the already registered marks is limited only to their combine nature. In the case at hand, however, Pohjanmaan didn’t use these combine trademarks but only word names in standard font. So in that regard, there is no infringement.

This case is quite indicative of the way how applicants define their trademark strategies. Some companies, in an attempt to escape possible trademark refusals by Patent Offices, applied for not so distinctive signs combining them with graphical elements or fonts. Although they can register such marks successfully most of the times, this, unfortunately, doesn’t mean that they can rely on them in such lawsuits because of the limited scope of protection.

Cambodia joins the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin

shutterstock-391563562WIPO reports about the accession of Cambodia to the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration.

According to the information, Cambodia will accept individual fees to cover its cost of substantive examination of each international registration.

More information here.