Speedo vs. Brooks A Non-Sporting Trademark Opposition

May 29, 2018

Brooks logoBrooks Sport submitted TM Application No. 238375 back in June 2011, for clothing, shoes and headgear in class 25.

speedo-logo

Speedo Holdings BV filed an Opposition the mark under Sections 11(6), 11(9), 11(13), 11(14), 11(5) and Section 39(a1) of the Trademark Ordinance 1972.

The Opposition was based on the alleged similarity to three Speedo marks, registered on July 1993 and shown below.

Opposer’s (Speedo’s) Statement of Case

speedo

The Opposer claims to have been established nearly 100 years ago, and to being one of the leading sports clothing manufacturers, particularly for sea and pool wear. Since the Seventies, the company has used their logo on swimwear, goggles, swimming caps, pool footwear (flip-flops?) and the like, but also for clothing for wearing in fitness centers and during aerobic activities.

The Opposer claims that due to their wide advertising and marketing activities and the quality and reliability of their products and the Speedo image, their logo has received wide acclaim worldwide, including in Israel. Their sports goods all sport their logo which is thus well-known.

Speedo has registered trademarks in classes 25 (clothing) 28 (games and exercise devices) 12, 14, 18 and 5.

In this regard, the three logos depicted above, Israel Trademarks 76627, 76632 and 76637 are cited.  76627 is just for the graphic logo. 76632 and 76637 include the graphic logo with the word SPEEDO. All three logos cover all goods in class 25.

The Opposer alleges that these marks are to be considered well-known marks as defined by Law due to their wide usage worldwide in general and in Israel in particular, and due to the publicity and advertising. The Opposer alleges that their logo is identical or at least very similar to Israel TM application no. 76627 to Brooks Sport, which also covers goods in class 25.

The Opposer further alleges that composite marks including the logo of Israel TM application no. 76627 and wording are also confusingly similar to Speedo’s marks, since the graphic element is dominant. The Opposer considers that allowing Israel TM application no. 76627 to register would cause the mark to be confused with their marks and would thus mislead the public regarding the source of the goods.

Since their mark is a well-known mark, it provides protection for similar but not identical goods, and so the fact that Speedo specializes in swimwear and Brooks in sports shoes, is of no consequence, and the bar for widening the protection is low and Speedo easily overcomes it.

Applicants’ (Brooks) Statement of Case

Brooks claims to be a long established, large and well-known manufacturer of shoes and sports goods, established back in 1914.

brooks earlier markBrooks considers that the pending mark is only minimally different from their registered Israel TM No. 82353 shown alongside.

Brooks submits that, by analogy, the new mark can also coexist with Speedo’s marks.

Brooks also considers that their graphic mark and Speedo’s mark are significantly different and there is no likelihood of consumers being misled. They note that Speedo have not documented any instances of actual confusion due to the alleged similarity and there are thus no grounds for concluding a real danger of misleading.

Brooks further notes that their goods and Speedo’s are very different, are intended for different consumers and are marketed in different ways.

Finally, the Applicant notes that Speedo have failed to establish any reputation in their logo alone (without wording) and so the claim that their mark is well-known should be rejected.

The Evidence

To support their claim, the parties submitted their evidence as follows. On 26 April 2014, Speedo submitted evidence with an affidavit from Mr Andrew Michael Long. On 21 July 2014, Brooks submitted their evidence with an affidavit from Mr David N Bohan and Mr Ilan Benisti. On 10 July 2015, Speedo forewent submitting a counter-statement in response.

Following submission of evidence, a hearing was set for 21 January 2016. Not long before this date, Speedo (represented by Pearl Cohen) submitted various interim proceedings and requests to postpone the hearing. On 17 January 2016, Speedo forewent cross-examining Brooks’ witnesses. In a ruling of 18 January 2016, the Adjudicator, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi rejected the interim requests and ordered Speedo’s witnesses to be available for the hearing.

Despite this, Speedo’s representative did not attend the hearing and was thus not available for cross-examination. This raised the question of whether their witness’ statement could remain on file, and what its evidentiary weight should be considered as being. On 1 February 2016, the Adjudicator ruled that the Affidavit should remain part of the file, but should be given low evidentiary weight.

DISCUSSION AND RULING

We are dealing with an Opposition to a trademark registration proceeding in which the burden of proof that the mark IS registerable, is initially on the applicant. However, the Opposer has to bear the burden of proof required to establish their opposition. If they succeed in so doing, the burden of proof moves from one side to the other as the proceeding proceeds. See, for example, Opposition to Israel TM Applicant No. 17051 Orange Personal Communications Services Limited vs. Gemcom LTD. 11 October 2009, and Opposition to Israel TM Application Numbers 175808 and 175809 Gizeh Manufacturing Company Greek Cooperative Cigarette vs. Raucherberdarf GmbH S.A. Sekap S.A. 6 February 2012.

Are the marks well-known?

It seems indisputable that the wordmark Speedo is well-known in Israel, and the Applicant and their witnesses do not dispute this. However, the question remains whether Speedo’s logo is now well-known in Israel. Speedo considers this to be case and relies on the long and wide-scale usage and the significant sums spent on promoting the brand around the world.

The term well-known mark is defined in the Ordinance as follows:

“Well-known trade mark” – a mark that is well-known in Israel as a mark owned by a person that is a citizen of a member state. A permanent resident of such state or who has an active business or factory in such state, even if the mark is not a trade mark registered in Israel or if there are no users of the mark in Israel; for the purposes of determining whether a trade mark is a well-known in public circles relating to it and the extent to which it is known as a result of marketing, shall be taken into account, inter alia;

As known, the sight and sound test is the central test of the three, and it considers the appearance of the marks in their entirety, emphasizing the first impression made by the comparison. The importance of the first impression is due to the simple reason that consumers do not stop to consider marks in their entirety. See for example, Appeal 6658/09 Multilock ltd. vs Rav Bareakh Industries ltd. paragraph 9 (12 January 2010).

In the Opinion of the Adjudicator, the graphic symbol of the Opposer is Israel TM No. 76627 which is very similar to the applied-for mark.

The Adjudicator does not consider the fact that Opposers’ mark is filled and the Applicant’s mark is defined by an outline as sufficient to create distinctiveness and to prevent confusion between them, particularly as it seems that Brooks uses the filled-in symbol. Nevertheless, she does not consider that one can fairly consider the combination marks of symbol and word Speedo of the Opposer with the symbol of Brooks.

Distribution Channels and Customers

In this instance, the Applicant argues that the applied for mark and the Opposer’s marks are not used on the same goods. Their position is that although both Applicant and Opposer manufacture sports goods, their goods are nevertheless in different categories since the Applicant’s goods are for running, whereas the Opposer’s goods are for swimming and water sports. It would appear that there is no need to give this further consideration since the Adjudicator has already ruled that these are goods of the same type. However, since we are considering the likelihood of misleading under Section 11(9) one has to consider the details of the mark. From this consideration it transpires that the Opposer’s (Speedo) marks are registered for the entire class 25, covering clothing per se, whereas the Applicant (Brooks) have applied for only some of the goods in class 25. From this it is clear that there IS overlap between the applied for range of goods of the Applicant and the range of goods covered by the Opposer’s mark. Because of this, the Applicant’s point that the marks are used for a different range of goods in practice is not acceptable.  Any consideration of the goods bearing the mark HAS to relate to the range of goods covered by the mark.

As to the customers, it seems that both Applicant and Opposer market their goods to the entire spectrum of people who engage in sporting activities, both professionals and amateur. So the customer base is identical. Nevertheless, it is likely that professional sporting people will be careful about what goods they purchase and will know the logos well. They will be more alert as the matter is of importance to them, so it is not reasonable to assume that this population will be misled. See re Bank Igud page 676, 673. However, this is not the case with amateurs, who purchase goods without much consideration, particularly when dealing with sports goods. For these consumers, it is not inconceivable that they will not be sufficiently attentive and could be confused or misled. In this instance, due to the similarity in goods for which the Speedo mark has been registered, it is not inconceivable that the Opposer will widen the scope of their business and only use the graphic element without the word Speedo. This could create misleading regarding the origin of the goods of Opposer and of the Applicant, which are both for class 25 and for the same family of goods.

As to marketing channels, the evidence shows that the Applicant’s goods are sold in both brand stores and general retail stores; however Speedo’s products are ONLY sold in Speedo stores. However, the Opposer, having a registered mark, could widen their distribution and sell in regular stores as well. So this test does indicate a danger of consumer confusion. See Appeal 4116/06 Gateway Inc. vs. Soundtrack Advanced Technologies ltd. 20 June 2007.

 Other considerations and Common Sense

This test includes the other case-specifics that should be considered when determining the likelihood of consumers being mislead by the similarity between the Applicant’s and the Opposer’s marks.

In this regard, the Adjudicator was not persuaded that the Applicant’s mark had acquired such significant recognition that overcome the risk of confusion with the Opposer’s graphic mark. There is a strong similarity between the visual appearance of the marks and between the goods covered, the customers and distribution channels.

Furthermore, the Adjudicator does not accept that the mark should be registerable since the sports field includes other marks that are very similar. This claim contradicts the Opposer’s other claim that the graphic marks of the Applicant and Opposer are distinctive and different.

A further claim raised by the Applicant was that their mark and the Opposer’s mark carry a different conceptual message. See paragraph 21 of Bohan’s affidavit. Whereas Speedo’s mark conveys the message of hydrodynamics, the Applied for mark is like a path and is more rounded and gives a sensation of flexibility, solidity and movement. The comparison of marks in light of subliminal messages was discussed at length in Appeal 8441/04 Unilever Plc vs. Eli Segev 23 August 2006 (Dove). The Opposer considers that this difference, even if acceptable, is not sufficient to overcome the similarities between the marks.

The Adjudicator does not accept the claim that the marks conjure up different messages. As the court ruled in the Dove decision, such messages are of value to the extent that they create a linkage between the product and the idea in the eye of the customer. In this instance, the Adjudicator is not convinced that the consumer would identify the Applied for mark with flexibility, stability and motion, and certainly this is not proven to be the case.

The Adjudicator also does not accept the Applicant’s claim that in this instance there is no likelihood of confusion since, despite the usage of both companies, there has never been a complaint of being misled in practice. The Adjudicator does not consider this lack of a complaint to be significant in establishing that there never was confusion or that there never will be confusion.

In light of the above, the triple test leads to the conclusion that there is a likelihood of confusion similarity between Speedo’s graphic mark and the applied-for mark. So Brook’s mark is refused under Section 11(9) of the Ordinance.

It is noted that to reach the conclusion of non-registerability under Section 11(9), the Adjudicator did NOT rely on the evidence supplied by the Opposer.  The burden of proof of registerability lies with the Applicant. The Adjudicator did not consider that the Applicant supplied sufficient proof, and so the onus was not transferred to the Opposer who did not need to demonstrate that the mark could not be registered.

The grounds of Opposition under Sections 11(5) and 11(6) and section 39a1 are moot.

Conclusion

In light of the above, the Opposition to Israel TM No. 238375 is accepted.

COMMENT

In general, the Adjudicator would be correct to give little weight to the fact that in the past, there has been not a single recorded case of customer confusion. However, in this instance, both Speedo and Brooks have a hundred year history.

nike

Not taking into account other marks has some validity, but in this instance, Brooks earlier registered mark is far closer to Speedo’s. Furthermore, there are a whole slew of other somewhat similar marks, such as Nike’s mark shown alongside.

Although Speedo has indeed registered their graphical mark for all goods in class 25 they do not make and have never made running shoes. The graphical mark was registered in 1990. 28 years later, if Speedo have not expanded into running shoes and there is no bona-fide indication that they intend to, Speedo’s registration should be amended to limit the range of goods to exclude running shoes. Possibly this should require Brooks and their representative to request this, but there is no overlap. There is no likelihood of confusion, and the marks are different.

In the circumstances, to rule that Brooks did not make a sufficient case to move the burden of proof to Speedo is frankly ridiculous.

 


A Fresh Trademark Opposition Costs Ruling

March 23, 2018

be fresh

On 14 April 2015, Benny Pauza Sumum (2009) ltd. submitted Israel trademark application no. 273816 in classes 32 and 33 for Be Fresh, as shown. The mark was allowed on 4 May 2017 and published for opposition purposes. On 27 July 2017, a Turkish company called Cakiemelikoglu Maden Suyu Isletmesi Sanay Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi filed an opposition against the class 32 registration. On 27 September 2018 the Applicant filed a counter-statement of case. The Opposer chose not to file their evidence and on 1 January 2018, the agent-of-record of the Applicant approached the Opposer directly. In the absence of a response, three weeks later, the Applicant requested that the Opposition be rejected and that costs be awarded.

Ruling

Under Section 38 of the Israel Trademark Ordinance 1940, the Opposer should have filed their evidence by 28 September 2017. Until now, the Opposer has failed to submit evidence in an Opposition proceeding they themselves initiated. Consequently, under Section 39, the Opposer is considered as a party that abandoned a legal proceeding that they themselves initiated.

If the Opposer does not submit evidence, he is considered as having abandoned the Opposition unless the Commissioner rules otherwise.

In this instance, the Applicant requested real costs of 21,060 Shekels including VAT for filing the counter Statement-of-Case and also for filing the request to close the file. The request was accompanied by a tax invoice showing that the charges were indeed incurred.

It is true that the winning side is entitled to real costs, i.e. those actually incurred. However, the Arbitrator is not required to award the costs incurred, and should consider the circumstances and legal policy. See Appeal 6793/08 Luar ltd vs. Meshulam Levinstein Engineering and Sub-contracting ltd, 28 June 2009, and particularly section 19 thereof.

The case-law requires the party requesting costs to show that they are reasonable, proportional and necessary for conducting the proceedings in the specific circumstances. See Bagatz 891/05 Tnuva Cooperative et al. vs. The Authority for Import and Export Licenses at the Dept of Industry, 30 June 2005, p.d. 60(1) 600, 615. The purpose of the reasonable, proportional and necessary limitation is:

To prevent a situation where the costs are so high that they will discourage parties from filing suit, create a lack of equality before the law and make litigation too expensive to enable access to the judiciary. (Appeal 2617/00 Kinneret Quarries Partnership vs. the Municipal Committee for Planning and Construction, Nazareth Elite, p.d. 60(1) 600 (2005) paragraph 20).

The amount of work invested in the proceeding and in the preparation of legal submissions, the legal and factual complexity of the case, the stage reached, the parties behavior to each other and to the court and any inequitable behavior are all taken into account in the ‘specifics of the case’.

The reasonableness of actual costs was considered in Re Tnuva on page 18 paragraph 24, and it was ruled that where an issue is significant to a party it is reasonable for him to invest more heavily in the legal proceedings and doing so is likely to be considered reasonable.

That said, the more a cost claim appears exaggerated, the more evidence is required to substantiate it. See for example, the Opposition to IL 153109 Unipharm vs. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, cost request paragraph 9, 29 March 2011. 

Section 69 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states that:

In all hearings before the Commissioner, the Commissioner is entitled to award costs he considers as reasonable.

The Court of the Patent and Trademark Authority has previously ruled that simply submitting a copy of an invoice is insufficient. The requester for costs should detail the actions performed, and why they were reasonable, and similarly for the other parameters detailed in re Tnuva. From the submission it is apparent that the Applicant has not submitted sufficient evidence to support the cost claim to justify it. Consequently the Adjudicator Ms Shoshani Caspi estimates appropriate costs for the work involved.

In this case the mark holder had to file a counter-statement-of-case and a costs request. The case does not appear to be particularly complicated and the Applicant did not have to file evidence since the case was abandoned. Nevertheless, the Opposer initiated and then abandoned the procedure and didn’t even bother telling the Patent Office that they had done so.

After humming and hawing detailed consideration and by her authority under Section 69 of the Ordinance, the Adjudicator ruled that 4500 NIS + VAT was appropriate and gave the Opposer 14 days to pay this, or to incur interest.

Opposition to Israel trademark no. 273816  “Be Fresh”, cost ruling by Ms Shoshani Caspi, 21 February 2018


ENVY

December 20, 2017

276449Bacardi & Company LTD filed Israel Trademark Application Number 276449 consisting of a stylized mark comprising a pair of wings and the words ANGEL’S ENVY, the mark is for alcoholic beverages, except beers in class 33. They also filed Israel Trademark Application Number 275692 for North American whiskey; alcoholic beverages based on, or flavoured with North American whiskey.

ENVYLa Fée LLP filed Israel Trademark Application Number 278588 for ENVY as shown. The mark covers Spirits; absinthe; alcoholic beverages containing spirits; alcoholic beverages containing absinthe in Class 33.

(Absinthe  is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (“grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. In other words, it seems to be a type of Arak,

angel's envyBacardi’s marks were filed on 31 March 2015, and La Fée’s marks were filed on 27 July 2016, before Bacardi’s marks were examined. As the marks were co pending, a competing marks proceeding ensued. On 26 June 2017 the parties were given three months to submit their evidence regarding their rights to the marks.

On 13 September 2017, La Fée LLP submitted an unclear communication that related to priority. On 14 September 2017 the Israel Patent Office requested clarification and asked if the submission was a type of evidence. However, La Fée did not respond. On 26 October 2010 after requesting and obtaining extensions, Bacardi submitted their evidence. In view of the lack of response from La Fée, on 7 November 2017, the patent office sent them a letter giving a grace period of a week to submit their evidence. However, La Fée LLP did not respond.

Section 67 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states that

Subject to any regulation under this Ordinance, evidence is proceedings before the Registrar shall be by affidavit under section 15 of the Evidence Ordinance (New Version) 5732 -1971, or by declaration made abroad under the law of the place where it is made, so long as the Registrar does not otherwise direct; but the Registrar may, if he thinks fit, take oral testimony in lieu of or in addition of written evidence, and may permit the deponent or declarant to be cross-examined.

In this instance, La Fée did not submit any affidavit and there does not seem to be any justification for them failing to do so.

Consequently, regulation 25(b) applies:

If the Applicant fails to submit a detailed response within three months of the invitation to do so, the Applicant will consider the Application as cancelled under Section 22 of the Ordinance and a notice to that effect will be sent to the Applicant.

Since La  Fée chose not to submit evidence at all, and not to respond in any way to the Queries from the Court of the Patent Office, the Adjudicator, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi ruled that filed Israel Trademark Application Number 278588 for ENVY be considered abandoned, and Bacardi’s marks proceed to examination.

Using her powers to rule reasonable costs under Section 69 of the Ordinance, noting that Bacardi did exert effort in responding and Le  Fée’s behavior, she ruled that le Fée pay 15000 Shekels costs (excluding VAT) to Bacardi within 14 days or the costs will be index linked and bear interest until paid.

Competing marks ruling concerning 276449, 275692 and 278588, Yaara Shoshani Caspi , 16 November 2017.


A forest of Sequoias

December 19, 2017

SequoiaBalboa Apps attempted to register Israel Trademark Application Number 271170 for SEQUOIA in class 9 covering Computer software for Internet search and browsing, e-mail, electronic messaging, and application development; computer operating system software and computers. The mark is a stylized word mark in capital letters in a serif font as shown along side.

The Examiner refused the mark on the basis of Section 11(9) of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 due to its similarity to Israel Trademark No. 227696 for SEQUOIA CAPITAL THE OWNER’S CODE and to Israel Trademark No.  227697 for SEQUOIA CAPITAL THE FOUNDER’S CODE both in class 42 and covering technology consultation and research in the fields of computer hardware, computer software, networking, telecommunications, e-commerce, content distribution, financial services, health care, energy, clean technology and outsourcing; all included in class 42.

Sequoia capital

271338

sequoia 271339

271339

A separate issue was a Section 29 (competing marks proceeding) with reference to  Israel Trademark Numbers 271338 for Sequoia Capital and 271339 for Sequoia in classes 35, 36, 38, 41 and 42.

On 2 January 2017, the Applicant responded to the Office Action by noting that the requested mark was successfully registered in many other jurisdictions; that the application was for a different class than that of the cited marks and the services and goods are likewise different, and the difference in the marks are clear and self-evident and not similar enough to cause confusion. These arguments were not considered persuasive by the Examiner and Applicant’s representative requested a hearing before the Commissioner, which was held on 16 July 2017.

In this regard, the Applicant requested under paragraph 8 of Circular 013/2012 to leave the competing marks issue under Section 29 (competing marks) until the Section 11(9) (similarity of marks) issue was ruled on.

Ruling

The Applicant’s mark is the word Sequoia in a serif font, and the registered marks are for SEQUOIA CAPITAL THE OWNER’S CODE and SEQUOIA CAPITAL THE FOUNDER’S CODE in San-serif font. The Applicant’s mark is for computer software under section 9, whereas the registered marks are for consultation regarding computer software and hardware, telecommuniication as and other things in class 42.

Section 11 states that:

  1. The following marks are not capable of registration:

(1)…

(9) a mark identical with one belonging to a different proprietor which is already on the register in respect of the same goods or description of goods, or so nearly resembling such a mark as to be calculated to deceive;

 Section 2 states:

  1. Save as otherwise provided, the provisions of this Ordinance which apply to trade marks shall apply mutatis mutandis to service marks, and every reference in this Ordinance to a trade mark or to goods shall be deemed to include a service mark or a service.

Thus before considering the similarity of the marks, and whether the registration of the mark in question could deceive with regards to the registered marks, it is necessary to determine whether the various marks are for goods and services of the same type. If it can be established that the requested goods and services are of a different type, Then Read the rest of this entry »


3D Vision – virtual-reality reality

June 8, 2017

3dvision3DVision LTD submitted Israel trademark application no. 273325 for “3DVISION” on 25 March 2015. The mark covers Services of design, construction, building and designing websites; design and development services, namely, development services of technological solutions, software development services, web hosting services and content management services, visual communication design, graphic design services; graphic and architectural simulations design services using computer software; computer services, namely, design services and development services of three-dimensional movies, pictures, motion pictures with sound, audio and visual aids; Creative services, namely, design and development of computer software and consulting services related thereto; design of animated websites; design services of websites for marketing and advertising purposes; design services of graphic illustration services for others; design services of customized multimedia products for educational, marketing, training, demonstrational, presentation, architectural, engineering and development purposes; design services of multimedia products in the form of applications of computer graphics and website hosting services for the exchange of graphics, images, text, computer simulations, architectural simulations, marketing and promotional videos between the parties, all in class 42 .

The trademark department considered the mark as indicating three-dimensional perception and lacking distinctiveness for the relevant goods and services. Since other service providers used the term as well, they refused it under Section 8(a) of the Israel Trademark Ordinance 1972, and also considered it as contravening section 11(10) as being descriptive. Although the mark was filed in a specific font, the Examiner considered the san serif font as not having the minimal styling to render the mark registerable.

Furthermore, the mark was considered confusingly similar to Israel trademark number 191734 for D-Vision in class 34, but that mark lapsed on 30 January 2017 due to non-payment of the renewal fee.

On 28 December 2015 the Applicant argued that the mark had acquired distinctiveness through usage and was associated exclusively with the Applicant and thus was registerable under Section 8b of the Ordinance. The Applicant argued that the mark has been in use for 13 years and the public was exposed to it in various media including via the Internet. The Applicant also noted that since 2003 they had been using the identical Internet domain (not stylized) and had similar pages and channels in various social media including Facebook and YouTube for over five years. This exposure, continued usage and marketing investment had resulted in the mark being well-known for virtual reality and animation in the real estate business [MF – Virtual Reality Reality?]. An affidavit by the CEO was submitted to support these claims. Read the rest of this entry »


White Beer brewed by Different Monks Not Confusingly Similar

June 7, 2017

benediktineThe Bitburger Braugruppe GmbH applied for Israel Trademark No. 270167 for beer and non-alcoholic beverages in classes 32 and for education and catering services in class 43. The mark includes the words Benediktiner Weissbier and a picture of a Benedictine monk.

FranciscanBefore the mark was examined, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH applied for Israel Trademark No. 273567 for beer and non-alcoholic beverages in classes 32. The mark includes the words Franziskaner Weissbier and a picture of a Franciscan monk.

The Israel Trademark Department considered the marks as being confusingly similar and instituted a competing marks proceeding under Section 29 of the Trademark Ordinance.

Both sides presented their evidence as to who should prevail, but before a date was fixed for a hearing, they hammered out a coexistence agreement and agreed on steps to be taken to minimize the likelihood of the public being confused.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Jacqueline Bracha considered that the agreement was acceptable and the two trademarks could coexist.

The Benedictine beer (not to be confused with the liqueur that was a favorite tipple of the last Lubavicher Rebbe) is brewed in a brewery founded in 1609 and has a special recipe used by the monks. Since introduced into Israel in 2012, six million shekels has been spent on advertising and hundreds of thousands of liters were sold each year.

The Franciscan brewery claims to date back to the 14th century and that its label was designed in Munich in 1935. They have a registered trademark in Israel from 1936, and the applied for trademark has been used since 2008 for hundreds of thousands of liters.

Section 30 of the Trademark Ordinance allows for coexistence of marks for the same or similar goods where the Commissioner considers that marks are applied for in good faith.  Since the marks have coexisted for five years in Israel (and are known worldwide) and there is no grounds to conclude that one side or the other is trying to benefit from the competitor’s reputation.

The names sound very different when pronounced and the images of the monks are well established for beers.

The Deputy Commissioner then related to dove cosmetics and to the biosensor ruling and concluded that there was no likelihood of confusion.

Coexistence of the two marks is allowed.

COMMENT

This is a little like the joke about the Jew who was beaten up for sinking the Titanic… iceberg, Goldberg, what’s the difference?

Anyone with any sensitivity to monk habits would easily differentiate between Benediktine and Franciscan monks. Benedictine, being black friars would not be seen dead in brown habits. Franciscans, eschewing wealth, wear habits of peasant fabric, and being capucians, have distinctive hoods on their habits.

Perhaps more significantly, images of barley are generic for beer, and the term weissbier just means pale ale, or lager. Since beer has been brewed by monks for centuries, the image of a monk or someone holding a tankard is hardly distinctive. Even the most inebriated would realize that all the above simply indicate beer, and the it is specifically the terms Franziskaner and Benediktiner that indicate the flavour. Those unable to tell the difference would probably not care what they are drinking anyway.

Because of shipping costs, improrted beer from Germany is relatively expensive and these beers are considered as premium brands. the volume of sales is similar in each case and though adequate to demonstrate that they are established locally, their combined market sector is only a small fraction of beer sales. The Arab population does not drink beer at all, and those willing and able to purchase these lagers are generally well educated and discerning. Coexistence is a reasonable outcome in the circumstances. Furthermore, since the parties proposed coexistence, it is unlikely that anyone will appeal this decision.

 

 


Can a 3D perfume Bottle be Registered as a Trademark?

April 24, 2017

christiandorChristian Dior submitted Israel Trademark Application Number 264427 for a 3-dimensional perfume bottle as shown.

The Application was submitted on 16 April 2014 for perfumes, perfumery products, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, extracts of perfumes; perfumed body milk, body oils and body lotions, perfumed body lotion and shower gel, perfumed bath lotions and gels, soaps, perfumed shampoo; make-up products for the face, the eyes, the lips, cosmetics products for the nails and nails care; all included in class 3.

In the first Office Action of 9 August 2015, the Examiner considered the mark as non-registerable under Section 8(a) of the 1972 Trademark Ordinance in light of Circular MN 61 which was then in force, since the mark relates to the three-dimensional package or container for the goods in question.

In that letter, it was stated that the Commissioner could consider allowing a three-dimensional mark in exceptional circumstances where the following three conditions are all fulfilled:

  1. The mark serves as a trademark in practice
  2. The mark does not have any real aesthetic or functional purpose
  3. The mark has acquired distinctiveness through use

In a response from 8 December 2015, the Applicant explained that Christian Dior was a fashion house founded in 1946 for quality goods such as haute couture, perfumes, jewelry and fashion accessories. An affidavit from Riccardo Frediani the General IP Counsel for perfumes was included as part of the response.

The Applicant listed various points that were endorsed by the Affidavit, which were claimed to provide the required distinctiveness:

  1. The perfume associated with the requested mark was a flagship product
  2. The perfume was sold under the mark continuously since 1999 and was sold in 130 countries
  3. The perfume was sold in Israel since 2000 and much effort had been expended in branding and marketing in Israel.

The Applicant explained that the bottle was inspired by the jewelry worn by Masai women, and by 19th century wedding dresses. The bottle design had not changed since it was first introduced.

In addition, the Applicant claims that the fragrance associated with the mark was Dior’s most popular fragrance in Israel and was the fifth most popular fragrance in Israel. These claims were supported by various write-ups and market analysis. Together with the response submitted in December 2015, the Applicant requested that part of the evidence submitted remain confidential as it relates to specific sales and financial data. This confidentiality was granted in a December 2015 interim ruling.

The response of 30 December 2015 was considered sufficient to establish acquired distinctiveness as required by Section 8(b), but the Examiner held that since the applied for mark have previously been registered as a design, it could not be registered as a trademark. The design in question is 3293, registered by Christian Dior in class 9(01) under the titled Perfume bottle on 30 April 2000, which termination on 26 March 2014.

The Examiner considered that the fact that the mark had been registered as a design implied that it was an aesthetic creation and as such could not be registered as a three-dimensional mark in view of paragraph 5.2 of Circular 032/2015 “Trademarks – Requests for Registering Three Dimensional Marks” which regulates the registration of three-dimensional toffiffeemarks that are the objects themselves or their packaging. The Circular states that where the evidence indicates that a product or packaging design serves as a trademark and is neither very aesthetic or very functional; and, through usage has acquired distinctiveness it may be registered (these requirements are inherited from the earlier Circular MN 61), but updated in light of the Supreme Court’s Toffiffee ruling 11487/03 August Storck.

The Applicant requested to appeal the Examiner’s decision and a hearing was held on 28 June 2016.

The Registerability of the Desired Mark

The Commissioner Asa Kling considered that the weight of evidence submitted does indeed show that the bottle mark has acquired distinctiveness. This is evidenced by the sales data, the amount of advertising and exposure of the mark in Israel and abroad, and Frediani’s affidavit is persuasive. The question that remains is whether the mark has a real aesthetic or functional purpose that prevents it from being registered, and if this is not the case, then it is necessary to consider if the shape serves as a trademark in practice.

Circular 032/2015 states that three-dimensional representations of goods or their packaging are not registerable as trademarks if they are inherently distinctive. In such cases they are properly protected as registered designs. It then goes on to give the three conditions detailed above.

In this regard, it is noted that Circular 032/2015 that the Examiner relied upon and which has subsequently been cancelled, was subsequently merged into 033/2015 “Emphases for Examining Trademark Registrations”, which entered into force on 15 December 2016, and since Section 5.2 is included in the new regulation, the cancellation of 032/2015 does not render this discussion moot.

The registerability of three-dimensional marks has been much discussed in the case-law. The basic ruling is the 2008 decision 11487/03 August Storck vbs. Alpha Intuit Food Products ltd. published on 23 March 2008 (the Toffiffee case).

Following this ruling, the Patent Office updated its policy regarding the registerability of three-dimensional marks, resulting in the various Circulars and in a number of rulings.

croccrocFor example, the 212302 and 212303 Crocs Inc decision of January 2013, the 228232 and 228233 Seven Towns SA decision cube-in-handof November 2012, the 184325 Coca Cola ruling of September 2012 and the 238633 Absolut decision of September 2013.

The problem with deciding whether three-dimensional trademarks are registerable is particularly apparent when considering liqueur or perfume bottles. liqueurs, spirits and perfume do not have a shape and the shape in question is that of the container.

The Applicant claims that the act of registration of the bottle as a design does not prevent it being or becoming a trademark. The Applicant relates to the Toffiffee ruling and understands the Supreme Court as stating that when a product is launched, the three-dimensional shape of the product or package cannot serve as an indication of the manufacturer. At the registration stage, the only protection available is that of a design registration. However, the design may subsequently acquire distinctiveness through use that is identified with the supplier and can therefore subsequently be registered as a trademark.

The Applicant considers that the Supreme Court differentiated between products and packages and that it is not necessarily true that one can draw comparisons between the two categories.

The Applicant claims that there is no bar to the same product being protected both as a design and as a trademark. In the present instance, there is an overlap between the two types of protection. The ‘real aestheticness’ that the Commissioner’s circular considers as preventing registration is different from the aesthetic requirement that is necessary for design registration under the patent and design ordinance; otherwise something registered as a design could never be a trademark.

However, Section 5.2 of the Circular does, nevertheless, refer to something ‘serving a real aesthetic or functional purpose’.  The applicant considers that the effort expended in promoting the product that is identified with the bottle has borne fruit, and despite there being no word mark attached to the bottle, the mark is well-known.

Frediani notes that section 1 of the Trademark Ordinance clearly states that three-dimensional marks may be registered:

“Mark” means letters, numerals, words, devices or other signs, or combinations thereof, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional

And defines a trademark as follows:

“Trade-mark” means a marked used, or intended to be used, by a person in relation to goods he manufactures or deals in;

When considering the registerability of a mark, one should bear in mind the purpose of registration which is to be a means of protecting the manufacturer and seller and of preventing unfair competition, and also to protect the public. See 3559/02 Toto vs. Sports Gambling Authority p.d.. 49 (1) 873, and 3776/06 Ein Gedi Cosmetics vs. Commissioner of Patents May 2008, and also Seligsohn.

Section 2 of the Patents and Design Ordinance states:

“design” means only the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to any article by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to, and are judged solely by, the eye, but does not include any mode or principle of construction or anything which is in substance a mere mechanical device.

The registration of a design requires that it is new or original, and not previously published. The purpose of the design is to give an identity or form to a product, it is that which gives it its uniqueness. As the Supreme Court ruled in 7125/98 Mipromal Industries Jerusalem vs. Klil Industries p.d. 57(3) 702:

The protection given to the unique shape of an article is that which the eye is able to comprehend… the form needs to attract the eye of the relevant consumer in a manner that influences the specific choice.

If so, when exposed to a trademark, the consumer’s right is to know the source of goods, whilst respecting the mark owner’s rights to prevent unfair competition. A design right is based on the lines of form of a good and a design that draws the eye of the consumer.

In Toffiffee the Supreme Court stated that the three-dimensional shape of a product may be registered if the owners can prove that it has acquired distinctiveness through use. However, this is with the proviso that it does not have real aesthetic or functional value:

In contrast, the considerations for registering a three-dimensional mark based on the shape of a product is on the basis of acquired distinctiveness. When referring to a good as having a shape that has acquired distinctiveness, we means a shape that causes the consumer to identify the product with a specific source. If it is proven that a good has acquired distinctiveness, it is not important that rarely will the shape be inherently distinct…this means that in those cases where it is proven beyond doubt that the shape serves to distinguish the product – the shape may be registered.

In the Toffiffee case, the court related to the differences between trademarks and other types of intellectual property, including designs, which can coexist in the same product:

It is stressed that where the shape of a good serves as an identifier and differentiator, it serves the function of a trademark. It therefore deserves the protection accorded by trademark laws. It is possible that the same shape is protectable by other types of intellectual property such as designs, or has indeed been protected in this manner. However, since the purpose of trademarks is different from that of other types of intellectual property, the fact that this the shape has already been protected does not prevent it from being protected as a trademark. Furthermore, we are aware that generally the functionality of a mark prevents its registration as a trademark even on the basis of inherent distinctiveness but rather under acquired distinctiveness. We have raised the question of whether this difference between passing off and trademark laws is desirable. That’s as may be, as far as three-dimensional marks consisting of the shape of a product are concerned, there is no choice but to conclude that where the mark is functional (or aesthetic), it prevents it being registered, even if it may be proven that it has acquired distinctiveness. Unless we say this, one may provide an everlasting monopoly for a functional (or aesthetic) shape. This could be very damaging for the market in question. 

From here it is clear that a three-dimensional registered trademark can coexist with a design registration for the shape of a product, so long as this does not provide a monopoly to an aesthetic shape that would create an obstruction to marketing in the relevant market. (this accords well with the background in the Toffiffee case.

Based on this, and in light of the guidelines adopted by the Patent and Trademark Office, the shape of a product having a functional or aesthetic nature may not be registered as a trademark where its form serves a major functional or aesthetic purpose, and under these considerations the mark was refused.

The rationale behind this is to prevent the widening of trademark protection beyond its classical purpose and preventing competition. Since a consumer choses a product for its shape, and this is protected with a trademark, he is doing so out of aesthetic considerations based on what attracts the eye and not as an indication of origin. This is clarified by the Absolut vodka case where the design is neither particularly functional nor aesthetic, but is inherently distinctive and is identified with a particularly spirit, and this is the case with spirits and perfumes in general. It appears therefore, that bottles and jars may acquire distinctiveness and be considered as trademarks by the public, however only after years of use.

Kerly’s Law of Trade Marks and Trade Names“, 15th ed. (2011) p. 199 explains that marks of this nature acquire distinctiveness after years of use.

The European Court of Appeal came to this conclusion in Case T 178/11 Voss of Norway ASA v. OHIM,(28.5.2013) “Absolut”:

“…Average consumers are not in the habit of making assumptions about the origin of products on the basis of their shape or the shape of their packaging in the absence of any verbal or graphic element, and it could therefore prove more difficult to establish distinctive character in relation to such a three-dimensional mark than in relation to a verbal or figurative mark (see Freixenet v OHIM, paragraph 38 above, paragraph 46 and the case-law cited).”

More specifically, as a liquid product must be in a container in a bottle in order to be marketed, the average consumer will perceive the bottle above all simply as a form of container. A three-dimensional trade mark consisting of such a bottle is not distinctive unless it permits the average consumer of a product of that kind, who is reasonably well-informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, to distinguish the product in question from that of other undertakings without any detailed examination or comparison and without being required to pay particular attention (Case C‑218/01 Henkel [2004] ECR I‑1725, paragraph 53, and Case T‑399/02 Eurocermex v OHIM (Shape of a beer bottle) [2004] ECR II‑1391, paragraph 24, upheld on appeal in Case C‑286/04 P Eurocermex v OHIM [2005] ECR I‑5797).”

Since we are not considering something that it aesthetic per se, but rather what is primarily a shape that serves the commercial purpose of linking a good with its supplier, the aesthetic aspect is secondary and less significant.

From here, if the Applicant manages to provide that the commercial considerations for choosing the product are dominant and that the shape of the product or the packaging actually serve as a trademark far beyond the aesthetic aspects, it may be registered.

As a general rule, as stated in the Toffiffee ruling, in some cases a product may benefit as both a trademark and as a design. As explained by Derclaye and Leistner- Intellectual Property Overlaps- A European Perspective (2011), p. 61:

Since a design is the appearance of a product and can be in two or three dimensions, there can be overlap with two and three dimensions trademarks; for instance, packaging, get-up and graphic symbol, which the Design Directive cites as examples of possible products in which design right can subsist, as well as logos, can also be signs that can be registered as trademarks.

Thus, design right can be acquired first, and then trademark applied for later when the public has been educated to recognize the packaging as a trademark, ie consumers only see it as indicating the origin of the goods as coming from a single company”.

This case relates to a trademark application for a perfume bottle that has a wide base, a narrow neck and a round stopper. The neck is coiled, and, as the Applicant noted, it was inspired by the Masai women’s jewelry.  There is no name or other element that says Christian Dior. The bottle has aesthetic elements that have some weight but the shape has acquired distinctiveness which should be given more weight.

The J’Adore perfume bottle has been widely advertised in various media in Israel and abroad and has been in constant use since 1999. The consumer does not purchase the perfume because of liking the shape of the bottle so much as because he identifies the bottle with the contents which is the product.

As a distinctive shape, the bottle was registered as a design, but over time, it has acquired distinctiveness as a container for the specific fragrance and thus serves as a trademark. The commissioner does not think that allowing the mark to be registered prevents competition in the field.

The application is returned to the Examiner for registration, with the proviso that it is clearly labeled as being a three-dimensional mark.

Ruling re Israel Trademark Number 274427, J’Adore 3D Perfume Bottle, Asa Kling 26 February 2017. 

COMMENT

I have a friend and neighbor who is genealogically half Masai and half Jewish. To me, David is tall and black. However, I am told that in Kenya where he was born, he was considered short and Jewish looking. He explained to me that the coiled gold extended necks of Masai women was a method of controlling them. If they misbehaved, their husbands could remove the jewelry and their neck bones would be unable to support their heads. The husbands could then take new and more obedient wives. I find this jewelry sinister and would not personally want to use it as inspiration for a perfume bottle. That said, I don’t see a problem in providing long-term protection for distinctive bottle shapes as trademarks, so long as functional shapes are not monopolized in this manner. The ruling is a correct one.

I don’t think that a judge would accept arguments that the Dior registration should prevent Tia Maria being sold in a long stripy necked bottle. This case is not analogous to Disney taking characters that are copyright protected and converting into trademarks to keep them from entering the public domain. It does raise interesting questions regarding the iconic Croc beach sandal that was registered as a trademark. Croc should be able to continue using their clog design as a trademark for branding purposes, but should  not be able to act against other manufacturers of substantially identical beach clogs. I think that the less said about the Seven Towns cube decision, the better.