The ‘Dan Design Center’ sells household design and furniture. It claims to have spent over 55 million shekels in branding and marketing over the years and sued a competing retailer in Rishon l’Zion called ‘One Design Center’ claiming it to be a well-known, if unregistered mark.
Judge Ilan Shiloh considered that on the spectrum between generic names and imaginative names, the term Design Center was on the border of generic and descriptive and thus protectable only in extreme circumstances, where the consumers clearly associates the mark with the mark owner.
Although evidence that the term Design Center was well-known was submitted by a well-known polling company, the Judge considered the evidence flawed and further considered the third of polled adults who did associate the term with the Dan Design Center as insufficient to warrant granting rights in the term to one vendor. The logos used by the two entities had different colours and font sizes and the geographical separation between the entities was significant. Furthermore, whereas the Dan Design Center retailed goods for providing a designer look, the One Design Center offered design services. In view of the differences Judge Shiloh dismissed the case and awarded 50,000 NIS in legal fees to the defendants.
T. A. 31706-01-06 Dan Design Center LTD. and others vs. B.R.A.P. Project Entrepeneurs and others
Whilst looking for images to illustrate this, I discovered that there are a number of design centers around the world. The Bnei Barak Center has been around for a long time, but not only didn’t register the word mark but also didn’t settle on one logo, but used a variety of different logos and signs that included the words Design Center. If there is a moral in this story, it is that retailers should register their trademarks. A second moral is that when choosing names, it is best to choose something distinctive and not generic.