The image of the same object does not necessarily result in similarity of trademarks

Author: Inga Lukauskienė,  Associated Partner, Attorney-at-Law, Patent Attorney at METIDA

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.42.07The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) rejected the opposition of a well-known German tea manufacturer R. Seelig & Hille oHG against the Community trademark SKONIS of Skonis ir Kvapas UAB.

The Office has determined that the trademarks are conceptually identical because both of them contain an image of a teapot. But it can be noted that the teapot is presented differently in both trademarks – in the earlier mark it is more realistic, whereas in the opposed mark it is more stylised, besides their forms and colours are different. These differences determine that the marks are not similar visually. It also took into account that the representation of a traditional teapot in a trademark registered for tea gives the mark weak distinctiveness.

Such an assessment is in essence in line with the already formed case law that solely the analogous conceptual content of visual elements is not enough for the marks to be considered similar, especially when an earlier mark is not particularly distinctive and does not have higher reputation, as in this case. Therefore, graphic differences of visual elements, which are conceptually similar, can be sufficient in order that consumers do not confuse the trademarks.

Such assessment of the OHIM was not modified by the fact that the trademarks are registered for identical goods. Similarity of the trademarks still remains one of the necessary conditions for existence of the likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

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