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Balmain versus Ballin

When assessing the similarity between trademarks we always focus on the distinctive and dominant elements of a trademark. Generic or descriptive elements do participate in the overall impression, but only play a limited role.

In a recent European opposition, the word “Amsterdam element” (in the contested brand BALLIN) therefore played a limited role. BALLIN is the dominant element.

Often these cases concern the similarity between words or graphical elements. In this opposition the similarity concerns both the words and the graphic elements. And EUIPO agrees, as according to EUIPO the trademarks coincide in typescript and stylisation. The words are also similar in the letters BAL – N. Because the words differ in the remaining letters, the EUIPO takes the view that the trademarks are similar to an average degree. Aurally however, the similarity is high, at least for the French speaking consumer.

Now that the brands are similar and the products and services also overlap, there is a risk of confusion and the registration of the BALLIN brand is refused.

Arnaud Bos

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