A coat full of energy

What is the connection between an energy drink and a jacket? At first glance, not much. But if the one brand moves on into the market of the other, problems will arise. That was precisely the issue with the energy drinks brand Monster and the fashion brand Moncler. Moncler filed an application for the trademark Moncler in the European Union for, among other things, boats and furniture, but also for drinks, including energy drinks. Monster Energy could not appreciate that.

But Monster and Moncler are not similar trademarks, are they? Yes they are, according to the EUIPO. Only two of the seven letters are different. This results in a visual similarity. There is also an aural resemblance.

Under certain circumstances, a conceptual difference can neutralize a visual and aural similarity. Although the word Monster is a well-known English word, the EUIPO is of the opinion that there is no relevant conceptual comparison to be made. This is due to the fact that, according to the EUIPO examiner, there are many non-English speaking people in the European Union who do not understand the meaning of the word ‘monster’. If you look at the opposition from their point of view and you take the meaning of the word ‘monster’ out of the equation, you may conclude that these are indeed similar marks. The relevant criterion is confusion anywhere in the European Union, which is the case here.

The lesson for all English-speaking professionals here is not to judge too quickly that no likelihood of confusion exists with a prior mark consisting of an English word, due to a conceptual dissimilarity.

Arnaud Bos

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