MarlborrowedIn a rebranding of her logo, the German company GRE Grand River Enterprises Deutschland got too much inspired by Marlboro. Even though Marlboro has a shape of an arrow at the top of the package, the Mark1 logo reminds us directly of Marlboro in terms of color and shape.

The European application for this logo was therefore directly opposed by Philip Morris. You would think on the basis of various trademarks of the packaging and logo of Marlboro, but no. Apparently, Philip Morris had a Mark10 registration. The EUIPO concludes that the words Mark 1 and Mark 10 are similar and because the figurative elements have little impact in the overall impression, there is a likelihood of confusion.

Interesting is the following argument of GRE and the response of EUIPO: “the applicant refers to a previous judgment of the General Court (22/06/2005, T-34/04, Turkish Power, EU:T:2005:248) to support its argument that, because of their loyalty to marks, average consumers will not confuse the conflicting signs. However, the previous case referred to by the applicant is not relevant to the present proceedings, since it deals with signs formed of verbal and figurative elements but not numerals. Furthermore, the General Court considered that the figurative element in the trade mark applied for, overshadowed the verbal elements of the sign, so that the earlier word mark ‘POWER’ and the mark  applied for displayed very marked differences visually, aurally and conceptually. These factors do not apply, however, in the present case. Therefore, the applicant’s reference to the abovementioned case cannot be taken into consideration.

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Arnaud Bos

“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”



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