A caged cat

A caged catImagine you are a worldwide-known brand and someone chooses a similar word in exactly the same font. For different products, but hey, your trademark is famous and has a larger scope of protection. A clear victory? No.

The trademark PUCAM trademark was filed in the European Union for phones and related products. PUMA is a well-known brand for sportswear. Puma filed an opposition against this application on the grounds of confusion and freeriding to a well-known brand: by copying the name and logo of a well-known brand, PUCAM’s applicant takes advantage of the reputation of Puma.

The EUIPO has assessed the conditions for this last mentioned ground. Puma had shown sufficiently that the brand PUMA was well-known. Furthermore, there must be a link between the signs. Case law states that there must be a certain similarity between the signs  as well as similarity between/overlap between the products. And that is the difficult part in this case: according to EUIPO the words dominate and these words are only similar to a low degree. Moreover, there is no link between the concerning products. The EUIPO concludes that it is unlikely that the consumer will link the brands.

The conclusion is hard to explain for owners of well-known brands. Just in case of a famous brand and an obvious similarity, the protection of a well-known brand should be broad, in our opinionA caged cat. Hopefully, this decision will be appealed!

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Arnaud Bos

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