Douwe Egberts is a well-known coffee brand in the Netherlands but also known for various products in other countries. The owner of Douwe Egberts is the company Jacobs Douwe Egberts, which is the result of the merger between Douwe Egberts and Mondelez.
Jacobs Douwe Egberts wanted to protect the Jacobs Douwe Egberts trademark in the European Union. After all, this is their company name. But the application met resistance from Jacob Fruitfield Foods and Irish Biscuits, owner of the Irish brand JACOBS.
JACOBS against JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS, are these similar trademarks? This is clash between (pre- and sur)names. Two corresponding surnames or first names usually result in a similarity between the trademarks (BOSCH against BOS and Peter against Peter). In case of a prename against a combination of a prename and surname (PETER against PETER BOSCH), often no similarity is given. The reasoning is that the surname is the dominant part of the trademark.
Jacobs is a surname in Ireland. And since an Irish trademark is invoked, the relevant area is Ireland. The EUIPO admits that the addition of Douwe Egberts creates a difference between the trademarks, however, a risk of confusion cannot be excluded. Therefore, the application of Jacobs Douwe Egberts is rejected.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”