In a recent ruling, on 25 June 2006, Dr. Meir Noam, the Israel Commissioner of Patents has upheld a decision of the Trademark Department not to allow registration of the marks Lencor and Lengo for domestic appliances.
The applicant, electrical goods importer, Tamir Electronics LTD., claimed that in the absence of opposition from the trademark holder of the mark Lenco, the Israel Patent Office had no jurisdiction to refuse to register the mark by itself.
Dr. Meir Noam has ruled that the marks are visibly and phonetically similar and could mislead the public and notes that unlike in the UK where the Patent Office does not have the right to instigate oppositions on his own, Section 11(6) of the Israel Trademark Ordinance provides confusion of the public as grounds for refusal.
We concur with the ruling and note that it contrasts nicely with the UK ruling on the Mitsubishi Lancer and Peugeot Lancia trademarks for car models, (Lancer Trademark 1987 – RPC 303 at 324) where it was noted that as far as cars were concerned, customers would be unlikely to purchase the wrong model based on similarity in the name. Although one does not buy electrical appliances every day, the likelihood of confusion in this market sector does seems greater.