The Israel Patent Office has rejected a trademark application for a designed label for Imperial Vodka. The label is transparent and has Imperial Vodka written in a similar san serif capital font to that used by Absolut Vodka. Beneath the name there is some text written in a curly italic font that is also similar to that of Absolut Vodka.
The Arbitrator of Intellectual Property, Noach Shalev Shmulovich, ruled that the label is similar enough to that of Absolut Vodka to cause confusion amongst consumers. Apparently, in a hearing before the Arbitrator, the lawyer representing Imperial Vodka reached out for the wrong bottle, unintentionally demonstrating the likelihood of confusion.
This is an interesting case as we believe that despite the dissimilarities between the words Absolut and Imperial, the non-protection of the word vodka and the lack of distinctiveness in the fonts, there is, nevertheless, a real likelihood of confusion amongst Israeli vodka drinkers since both labels are in blue and black on transparent background and are in English, which is in itself confusing to Israeli Vodka purchasers who are typically teenagers or Russian immigrants. Where the purchaser is somewhat inebriated, one would presume that the likelihood of confusion is greatly increased.
The case is Israel trademark Number 173021.