Chic Design Industries LTD filed Israel Trademark Application Number 223957 as shown above, for vending, distributing, importing and exporting furniture and for managing furniture showrooms in Class 35.
The application was submitted on 1 October 2009 and allowed on 9 January 2011, and published for opposition purposes on 31 January 2011. On 14 April 2011, Mr David Azriel filed an opposition, and subsequently the applicant filed a second mark in Class 20 for furniture including sofas, lounge suits, tables, chairs, sideboards, beds and mattresses. The mark was filed on 19 May 2011.
The opposer has a couple of long standing marks filed in 2004 for furniture and domestic ornaments, textiles, carpets, rugs and clothing in section 35.
The marks are shown below.
The opposer claims to have used the marks for 17 years, to have invested in marketing and to have built up a reputation. The opposer claimed that the attempted registration is inequitable behavior, confuses the public and is unfair competition. Since the mark is similar to his earlier marks, it is ineligible for registration.
The Hebrew word עיצובים means designs, and so the word design דיזיין is not distinctive.
The applicant claims to have used his logo since 2002, and to have invested some 100,000 Shekels a year in marketing. He claims to have sales of 12 million shekels a year, to be one of the leading three furniture distributors in Israel and to have developed a reputation.
Applicant claims to be a leading manufacturer of leather furniture, whereas the opposer is an importer of smaller household goods. He further argued that the client base was different. Applicant expressed surprise that opposer was opposing the furniture showrooms but not the mark for selling goods through other outlets.
The applicant argued that opposer had had to disclaim the word Chic to register his mark in the first place, and didn’t have rights in this generic term. Since the marks look and sound different, there was no reason to not allow his mark to be registered. Since he’d acted in good faith, the commissioner could allow coexistence. Applicant further accused opposer of inequitable behavior for waiting three years before commencing proceedings.
Both sides provided affidavits and documentary evidence to support their claims.
Since the Opposer dropped charges of confusing public and unfair competition, the patent office ruled on the narrow question of registration in light of confusing similarities.
Under section 11(9), a mark that is identical or confusingly similar to one registered may not be registered. The purpose of the law is to protect the public from confusion and to protect the rights of a party whose mark is already registered.
Applying the triple test, Ms Bracha ruled that although the word ‘design’ is the English equivalent of ‘itzuvim’, the marks nevertheless sound different and look different, even though the word Chic is common to both. She went on to rule that the marks were not confusingly similar.
The goods are dissimilar, in that the applicant sells leather suites and the opposer sells carved legs and the like to carpenters and home designers, rather than full suites of furniture. The deputy commissioner went on to rule that the clients and distribution channels were different.
As to other considerations, Ms Bracha did not think that the public would be confused in that purchasers of leather suites would not think that there was a connection to the opposers mark. Both parties had coexisted for other a decade without any clients being confused, and it was only when one party discovered the other in the yellow pages, that he was aware of him. Similarly, the second company only learned of the first on receiving a Cease & Desist letter.
The Deputy Commissioner noted that the opposer had argued that the applicants marks were widely registered across the class, but only more narrowly used. She ruled that oposer could challenge the scope of the mark in cancellation proceedings at a later date.
In conclusion, the opposition was refused and Opposer was ordered to pay 15000 Shekels in costs.