Tommy prevails in case against copycat logo

Although a consumer pays particular attention to words, many consumers also recognize brands by a logo or colors. And that is especially true if the logo in question is well-known.

To protect the distinctiveness of a logo, it is useful to register the logo as well as the word mark. And although trademark law issues with pure logos do not often occur, you will always see that your competitor adopts a similar logo as yours.

The logo of Tommy Hilfiger is known and of course registered as a trademark. This allowed Tommy Hilfiger to act against a copycat logo that a Chinese company filed in the European Union. Tommy Hilfiger invokes the broader protection of the logo but also the risk of confusion. The EUIPO first discusses the most far-reaching ground: the broader protection. Does the Chinese company take unfair advantage of the Tommy logo?

One of the stumbling blocks to relying on this ground is proving the reputation of the mark. But Tommy succeeds in this: the EUIPO accepts the reputation of the logo for clothing. The EUIPO must then examine whether the consumer makes a connection (a link) between the trademarks. This requires a certain similarity between the trademarks. The EUIPO finds the trademarks visually similar. The degree of visual agreement is average. On a conceptual level, the similarity is even large (both logos are blue rectangles with white / red areas).

The trademarks are therefore similar. But does the consumer make a link between the trademarks? That is certainly the case for similar products, says the EUIPO. For services that are not similar, it is unlikely that the consumer will make such a connection. The ultimate question “whether there is unfair advantage” is answered positively: this is certainly the case for some of the products and services.

And so Tommy Hilfiger manages to stop the logo of the Chinese company for most of the conflicting products and services.

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Arnaud Bos

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