Chipsico – a Competing Marks Proceeding Where Both Marks were Refused

July 11, 2017

267474On 13 August 2014, the New Dubak Natsha ltd filed Israel trademark application no. 267474 in class 29 for chips (potato crisps). The stylized mark is shown alongside, and reads CHIPSICO Batates Modalaah – (Chipsico Crinkle-Cut Potato Chips).

The same day, the Halawani Industrial Company ltd filed two trademark applications for coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, coffee substitute, flour and grain products, bread, wafers, cakes and sweets, honey, treacle, yeast, baking powder, salt, mustard, pepper, vinegar, tomato paste, seasoning mixtures, spices, frozen foods, snacks and crackers. The first application was Israel Trademark No. 267770 CHIPSICO and the second, 267772 was for شيبسيكو, which is Chipsico written in Arabic.

crinkle cutThe trademark department considered the marks as being confusingly similar and the parties failed to reach an agreement, so on 8 May 2016, a competing marks proceeding under Section 29 of the Ordinance was initiated and the parties were invited to present their evidence.

New Dubak Natsha ltd submitted: Read the rest of this entry »


Costs Award for Drink Point Competing Marks Proceeding

June 9, 2017

Where two parties file confusingly similar or identical trademark applications in Israel, such that both are co-pending, a competing marks proceeding ensues under Section 29 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972. More important that who filed first, are the issues of inequitable behavior and the scope of use.

On 20 May 2012 Assaf Nakdai and Benny Molayof submitted Israel trademark application no. 246704 for DRINK POINT covering business management and business administration; office functions; advertisements; sales promotion; sale of alcoholic beverages; included in class 35.

On the same day Drink Point LTD submitted the identical mark for services for providing food and drink; all included in class 43

250525Then on 9 October 2017, Drink Point LTD submitted an application for the same mark for business management, advertisements and sales promotion (including sale of alcohol); all included in class 35 and on 23 October 2017 Drink Point LTD submitted an application for the stylized mark shown alongside.

On 8 March 2017 Assaf Nakdai and Benny Molayof withdrew their application following a ruling by Judge Cochava Levy of the Tel Aviv – Jaffa Magistrate’s Court. Consequently on 12 March 2017, the Deputy Commissioner terminated the competing marks proceeding and allowed Drink Point’s applications to proceed to examination.

Drink Point LTD requested 14,200 Shekels in costs, alleging inequitable behavior and costs incurred in the corresponding court proceeding.

Ruling

In the ruling, the Deputy Commissioner reiterated the principle that the winning party were entitled to recoup their actual costs. However, she could only consider costs incurred in the competing marks proceeding, not those relating to the court ruling which should be addressed to that court. Furthermore, she was not convinced that Nakdai and Molayof had acted inequitably. The invoices submitted for Drink Point ltd’s lawyer’s fees were not sufficiently detailed to be considered. Therefore, she estimated an appropriate fee for the amount of work performed and ruled 7000 Shekels costs.


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.

 

 


Smash

May 7, 2017

smash3Talber Pop LTD owns Israel trademark number 240598 “SMASH” for Notebooks, stationery, diaries, binders; gift wrapping paper, paper gift wrapping bows, paper cake decorations, paper party bags, loot bags, cello bags, paper party decorations, paper party hats, paper tables cloths, paper napkins, banner made of paper and/or cardboards; all included in class 16, and Backpacks, sidepacks, back bags, side bags, sport bags, tote bags, book bags, school bags, food bags, pencil cases sold empty, wallets, waist packs, briefcases, bike bags, toiletry cases sold empty, fanny packs, suitcases, umbrellas, umbrella covers; all included in class 18. They also own a second Israel trademark number 241238 for SMASH in class 14 covering watches, chronometers and their parts.

On 30 December 2017, Smash Enterprises Pty LTD submitted a request to cancel the marks or to allow their marks to be co-registered. On 2 March 2016, Talber Pop responded with their Counter-Statement of Case.

The request for cancellation followed an attempt by Smash Enterprises Pty LTD to register their Israel Trademark Application 274301. After various extensions were authorized, on 26 January 2017 the parties submitted a joint request for coexistence based on a civil court ruling under which they undertook to differentiate their services and goods.

Smash Enterprises Pty LTD’s mark was in class 21 and covered containers for household or kitchen use; household or kitchen utensils; containers for beverages; containers for food; heat insulated containers for beverages; heat retaining containers for food and drink; insulated containers; lunch boxes; isothermic bags; bottles including water bottles (containers); beverage coolers (containers); drinking containers; portable coolers; ice containers; ice packs; plastic containers (household utensils); lids for household or kitchen containers; tableware, including plates, dishes, drinking glasses, bowls, cups, saucers, mugs and jugs, all being of plastic materials; cooking utensils for use with domestic barbecues; storage boxes, baskets and containers for household use; household rubbish containers (bins); glassware for domestic use; ceramic tableware; baking trays; storage jars; cooler bags; thermally insulated bags for food and drink.

Essentially, the two parties are interested in co-registration of Israel TM 274301 to Smash Enterprises together with those registered by Talber Pop LTD. (Smash Enterprises did have a second application in class 18, but seem to have abandoned that, as to allow the same mark for similar goods in the same class is particularly difficult).

The Commissioner can allow co-registration under Section 30a for identical or similar marks for identical or similar goods if the application to do is filed in good faith or if there are extenuating circumstances that allows coexistence.

The wording of Section 30(a) is as follows:

Where it appears to the Registrar that there is honest concurrent use, or where there are other special circumstances which in his opinion justify the registration of identical or similar trade marks for the same goods or description of goods by more than one proprietor, the Registrar may permit such registration subject to such conditions and limitations, if any as he may think fit. (b) A decision of the Registrar under subsection (a) shall be subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal shall be filled within thirty days from the date of the decision of the Registrar. In the appeal, the Court shall have all the powers conferred upon the Registrar under subsection (a). 

The Applicant for coexistence has to prove that he is acting in good faith. Furthermore, he has to establish that despite the marks being identical or apparently similar to those registered, there is no practical risk that the consumer will confuse between the marks. In this regard, in the 87779/04 Yotvata vs. Tnuva ruling it is stated that:

In rulings [based on Section 30a of the Ordinance] the emphasis will be on the equitable behavior of the parties adopting the mark and on the need to protect the public from similar marks that might create misleading or unfair competition (Friedman p. 431).

See also 48827-03-14 Biosensors Europe SA vs. Commissioner of Patents from 22 February 2015:

The burden of proof that there is no likelihood of confusion falls on the two companies interested in the co-registration, and they have to prove that for many years they used the marks in Israel without the public being confused.

In this regard, the main thread running through the Ordinance is that identical or confusingly similar marks should not be registered if they will mislead the public. Thus in  10959/05 Delta Lingerie S.A.O.F vs Cachan Tea Board, India :7.12.06 :

Confusion and the risk of misleading is the living breath of the Ordinance. This is the main danger that we have to deal with. The various options of Section 11 that list marks that may not be registered reflect different types of confusion, and way to prevent them.

Where marks are more confusingly similar, the level of evidence that is required to show that there is no danger in their both being registered by Commissioner discretion under Section 30a is higher. See for example, the ruling concerning Israel TMs 24886 and 233056 Orbinka Investments LTD vs Now Securites Ohr Yehuda 1989 ltd., 24 July 2015 and 252115, 244719 Gaudi Trade SPA vs. Guess, Inc., 27 July 2016.

Alternatively, the Commissioner has to consider whether there are other special considerations that allow identical or similar marks for identical or similar goods.

In this instance the parties have reached a coexistence agreement following arbitration before Adv. Gai-Ron, and the Arbitrator of IP prefers constructive discussion and compromise rather than judicial ruling that are all or nothing. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the parties are interested in co-existing is insufficient to allow it where the is a likelihood of confusion. The Commissioner has the sole authority and responsibility to ensure that the Israel public are not confused by such marks, and such agreements are no more than an indication that must be weighed up with other considerations before allowing co-existence. See 1611/07 Micha Danziger vs. Shmuel Mor, 23 August 2012: 

The desire of the parties that grow and market Gypsophila is one thing. The registration of confusingly similar marks is something else. Furthermore, and this is the important point – we are not relating to the parties’ consent, but to the balances in the law. The prohibition to register the requested mark is based on the need to protect consumers that were not party to the agreement between appellant and defender, (although such agreements may be indicative as part of a general analysis).

Thus it cannot be disputed that the Commissioner is not obliged to follow agreements between the parties. Nevertheless, in appropriate circumstances and where such agreements are valid, the Commissioner may allow co-existence based on such agreements – see 10105-05-16 Campalock ltd vs Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs 4/12/16.

In this instance, the parties submitted a two paragraph laconic request for co-existence stating that they had reached an agreement. However it is not enough to negotiate an agreement that serves the interests of the parties. A request to allow two pending applications to coexist or for a new application to be registered alongside an existing one must be justified by a detailed explanation showing why the public will not be confused.

There is no way to relate to whether the sides behaved equitably since the case should be closed before a hearing is conducted. The parties did not even address this issue in their request. The  marks are identical for the word SMASH and there is certainly a similarity between schoolbags in class 18 and food bags and drink containers in Class 21 since these goods could be sold in the same retail outlets and there is therefore a room for confusion between goods in classes 18 and 21.

The Examiner reached a similar conclusion when she objected to the 2743011 mark under Section 11(9), and mere consent of the owner of a mark cited against a pending mark is insufficient to overcome a Section 11(9) objection.

The agreement does list the steps that the parties have undertaken to take, but this is insufficient. Firstly, the mark owner of the registered marks undertakes not to use a logo similar to that of the Applicant for cancellation, but the logo is not appended. An agreement not to use the same graphic is too narrow since the degree of similarity that is allowed is not related to. The registration would cause the register to be different from that happening in business.

Under the agreement, the side requesting cancellation would have the sole right to use the mark for boxes and containers for storing food and drink and the mark owner would be prohibited from so-doing. However, the mark owner’s registration 240598 (group 18) includes “food bags”. Food bags are essentially food storage bags. There is thus an overlap which creates confusion.

Thus the Arbitrator Ms Shoshani Caspi finds herself considering two identical marks for the word SMASH for two different entities that cover inter alia the same goods which creates a strong risk of confusion.

Consequently, as part of their joint submission. the parties should have provided a detailed explanation why TM 274301 in class 21 should be registerable together with TM 240598 in class 18. This wasn’t done, and the parties have provided no explanation as to how to avoid confusion. The request for coexistence is refused. The parties have until 1 June 2017 to inform whether they wish to conduct a cancellation proceeding.

Smash ruling, Ms Shoshani Caspi, 26 April 2017.

Comment

The ruling is solid and both parties were represented. The parties are interested in compromising. The Patent and Trademark Office have to consider the public interest and to prevent confusion, but nevertheless one wonders why the arbitrator did not simply request that the parties relate to a list of issues that their agreement does not address, rather than to refuse the request.

 


More Coffee!

March 23, 2017

EdenFollowing on the heels of the Izhimis family feud, we now report on a competing marks proceeding between Abu Shukra Import Export and Marketing Ltd and Strauss Coffee B.V.

Again, this relates to Turkish coffee. On 2 May 2013, Abu Shukra filed Israel TM application number 255526 in class 30 shown alongside.

This ruling relates to all over packaging designs being used as trademarks and to branding concepts. To my mind, it also raises issues of monopolies and market abuse, but this is beyond the competence of the adjudicator and commissioner to relate to, although I think judges might see things differently.

22263EliteOn 16 July 2014, but before Abu Shukra’s mark was examined, Strauss filed Israel TM Application No. 266680 for Coffee, roasted coffee, roasted and ground coffee and coffee substitutes, all in class 30, and also Israel TM Application No. 266683 for Turkish coffee, roasted Turkish coffee, roasted and ground Turkish coffee and Turkish coffee substitutes, all in class 30. Strauss Coffee’s marks are shown alongside.

[At this stage we note that Strauss Coffee owns the Elite brand among many others. Strauss employees 14,000 people in 20 countries. The empire was built on their Turkish coffee brand, but they also now own Sabra, the leading hummus brand in the US, are partners with Yotvata dairies and Yad Mordechai Honey – MF]. Read the rest of this entry »


A Storm in a Coffee Cup

March 20, 2017

This ruling relates to competing rights of different relatives to register and use trademarks for a family business that eventually split up. The marks were registered by a cousin living in Ramallah, and cousins living in East Jerusalem applied to have the marks cancelled on various grounds including passing off, misleading marks, inequitable behavior and lack of use.

234876 LOGOChain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company own two trademarks: Israel Trademark No. 234876 for the logo shown alongside, and 234877 for the Arabic and English word mark
بن ازحيمان IZHIMAN’S COFFEE.

Maazen and Shapik Izhimian applied to have the marks canceled under Section 39 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972, and further under Section 41 for lack of use.

The marks were first applied for by Muhammad Musa H’alad Izhiman in January 2011, and after examination, were registered on 2 May 2012 for “coffee and coffee spices in class 30.” On 27 February 2014, the marks was assigned to Chain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company, a Palestinian Company based in Ramallah that was owned by Muhammad Musa H’alad Izhiman and his two sons Kassam and Nasser.

On 5 March 2014, the brothers Maazen and Shapik Izhimian who own a Jerusalem based business in Bet HaBad Street, for marketing and trading in coffee and spices under the name “Izhiman’s Coffee” and who are cousins of Muhammad, submitted a cancellation request. In July 2014, the owners Chain Stores of Izhiman Coffee Company submitted their response.

The Background

EnjoyMuhammad, his three brothers and the Applicants for cancellation are all members of the same clan, that were involved in the family business established by Musa, Muhammad’s father, together with Mahmud, the father of Maazen and Shapik in the 1980s. The company had three addresses, the Ramallah address, the Jerusalem address now run by Maazen and Shapik, and a third branch in Abu Dis.

In 1994, Muhammad fell out with his brothers and nephews and received sole ownership of the Ramallah store. His three brothers and the nephews shared the Abu Dis and the Bet HaBad Jerusalem shops and opened a further outlet themselves in Ramallah. In 2000 the applicants for cancellation and Muhammad’s three brothers opened a fourth branch in Salah Shabati Salahadin Street in East Jerusalem. In 2008, these partners ceased to cooperate, and Maazen and Shapik were left with the Jerusalem Store in Bet HaBad Street.

love.jpgMaazen and Shapik submitted an affidavit written by Maazen and a second one from Riyadh Ghazi Halaq, the owner of a coffee shop near the Bet HaBad address that buys his raw coffee from them. The mark owners responded with an Affidavit by Nasser Muhammad Musa Izhiman, Partner and authorized signatory. At the end of September 2016, the Adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi held a hearing and the witnesses were cross-examined.
Read the rest of this entry »


Frankenstein’s Monster

February 6, 2017

265232.pngIt sometimes happens that a second applicant files a similar trademark application to a previously filed mark that is pending. in such cases, a competing marks proceeding is initiated. the first to file gets some credit for so doing, but the main issue in determining which mark goes on for examination is the amount of usage by the two parties and good faith, or rather bad faith.

If one party is guilty of inequitable behaviour, their application will almost certainly be stayed. Where there are genuine independent filings of two applications for the same or very similar mark by different applicants, such that the second mark is filed before the first one is registered and they are co-pending, then the more widely used, better known and more intensively advertised mark proceeds to examination, and only once this mark is allowed or canceled, does the second mark  proceed to examination, where, in all likelihood, the registration of the first to be examined mark will prevent the registration of the second mark.

frankensteinIP Factor was approached by Best Foods Ltd. to file the logo shown above as a trademark application in classes 29 and 30. An application was filed and received the Application Number  IL TM 265232.

Prior to this being allowed, a second applicant, a Mr Doron Frankenstein filed Israel TM Application 261955 for the identical mark in the identical classes and so, on 10 May 2015, a competing marks proceeding was initiated as per Section 29 of the Ordinance.

On 4 November 2015, the parties were given three months to file their evidence, and were informed that failure to do so would result in their application being considered withdrawn and their application canceled as per regulations 24 and 25.

Best Foods Ltd cooperated with us and we filed their evidence. However Mr Doron Frankenstein did not file evidence and on 1 January 2017, the Trademark Department of the Israel Patent Office gave his attorneys were given seven days notice to file their evidence or their application would be deemed withdrawn.

Essentially Regulation 22 provides a three-month period for providing evidence, and authorized the Commissioner to cancel the application if no evidence is filed, or to grant an extension if reasonable to do so. Regulation 24(b) states that if the conditions of Regulation 22 are not met, the Application is considered as canceled, and the Applicant is informed accordingly.

The period for providing evidence was 14 February 2016 which is long past, so Israel TM Application 261955 to Frankenstein is considered withdrawn, and costs of 2000 Shekels are awarded to Best Foods Ltd. Application Number  IL TM 265232 was examined and has now been allowed.

COMMENT
It seems that Mr Frankenstein was a distribution agent for Best Buy Ltd. It could have been interesting to see who would have prevailed in a competing marks proceeding in such a case, i.e. whether the distributing agent may be entitled to rights in a mark registered locally. However, in this instance, since no evidence was filed, the substantive issues were not addressed.