Coffee Whitener Trademarks in the Gaza Strip

city creamerClients sometimes ask about whether or not it is worth registering trademarks in the Gaza Strip. Recently, we’ve been handling the destruction of fake plumbing goods destined to Gaza, that were stopped at the Israel Port of Ashkelon. Delivering papers in Gaza is not easy. It can, however, be done.

Qumsieh is a Jordan firm of patent attorneys that handles IP registration across the Middle East. On 20 May 2014, Qumsieh submitted a Gaza Trademark Application for City Creamer, a coffee whitening milk substitute that comes in powder form, on behalf of their client, Bilal Mohammad AL Hamwi, in class 29. The application was assigned number 18963, then published in the Official Gazette number 54 on 28 May 2015.

coffee mateSociété des Produits Nestlé S.A. (“Nestlé”), the owner of trademark “Coffee Mate” filed an opposition against our AL Hamwi’s mark based on their earlier registrations for “Coffee Mate” based on the following grounds:
An alleged Similarity between “City Creamer” and “Coffee Mate” in terms of appearance and general look;
Coffee Mate is a well-known trademark worldwide;
Registration of the opposed mark will mislead the public about the origin of the products and will confuse the consumers between both products, and
Due to the above, allowing the registration of “City Creamer” contradicts local Trademark Law.

In their response, Qumsieh noted that “City Creamer” has no counterpart “mug design” mark to that of Nestlé’s mark, however Nestlé argued that this was irrelevant. Opponent dismissed as irrelevant. Qumsieh also argued that the figurative elements illustrated the differences in the imagery, which far outweighed the alleged similarities.

The Gaza Registrar ruled that the “City Creamer” mark could be registered. Apparently Nestlé appealed said decision before the Gaza Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision of the Registrar.

COMMENT

The colour schemes of the two marks are similar, but coffee is a product that is generally drank warm and the orange-red colour implies a warm cosy feel. The term creamer, like coffee, is generic. Showing a powder additive for coffee as a spoon for adding to coffee seems to me to be descriptive, and despite the similarities which are probably not coincidental, I think that the Gazan authorities made the right decision. It is worth comparing this ruling to the Israeli rulings concerning energy drinks and the Eden Turkish Coffee.

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