Is Mr. Benjamin Brown around?

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) reversed the examiner’s rejection to TM App no. 2022-13396 for word mark “Benjamin Brown” in classes 25 and 28 based on Article 4(1)(viii) of the Trademark Law by stating the mark would not be completely identical with a full name of the person “Benjamin Brown” alive.

[Appeal case no. 2023-4642, decided on November 9, 2023]

Benjamin Brown

Japanese company, Kabushiki Kaisha Pmang, filed trademark application for a word mark “Benjamin Brown” for use on various goods in class 25 and 28, especially golf wear, shoes and other gold items, with the JPO on February 7, 2022.

On December 19, 2022, the JPO examiner rejected the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii) of the Japan Trademark Law since “Benjamin Brown” corresponds to a full name of person, an Israeli professor, researcher of Judaism and Jewish thought, lecturer at the Department of Jewish thought at Hebrew University.


Article 4(1)(viii)

Article 4(1)(viii) is a provision to prohibit registration of trademark that contains the representation or name of any person, famous pseudonym, professional name, or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof.

Notwithstanding the provision, the article is not applicable where the applicant could obtain a written consent from the person.

The Supreme Court of Japan ruled the article has aimed to protect personality rights of a living individual. Therefore, the article is not applicable when the person is no longer alive.

The applicant filed an appeal against the rejection on March 20, 2023 and argued that registration of the mark “Benjamin Brown” in relation to goods of classes 25 and 28 would never cause damages of personal right to Israeli professor at Hebrew University.


JPO Appeal Board decision

The Appeal Board found that the applied mark “Benjamin Brown” shall be conceived as a coined word in its entirety. Relevant consumers are unlikely to associate it with a full name of particular person.

It is uncertain if “Benjamin Brown” is a full name of the professor or alive (!). Besides, the Board can’t find any reason to believe that his name has been highly recognized among consumers in Japan.

If so, the applied mark shall not be subject to Article 4(1)(viii). Since the examiner made an error in applying the article, it should be cancelled in due course, the Board decided.

ANYTIME FITNESS Unsuccessful Opposition against “anytime 24” mark in relation to fitness service

On October 17, 2023, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Anytime Fitness Franchisor LLC against TM Reg no. 6630608 for the mark “anytime 24” in class 41 due to dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with “ANYTIME FITNESS”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900541]

“anytime 24”

Opposed mark, consisting of “anytime”, “24” and a clock device (see below), was filed by ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd. for use on various services in classes 35, 37, 39 and 41, including sports instruction services; arranging, conducting and organization of seminars relating to sports; production of videotape file in the field of sports; providing electronic publications relating to sports on October 14, 2021.

The JPO granted protection of the “anytime 24” mark on October 19, 2022, and published it for a post-grant opposition on October 31, 2022.


Opposition by ANYTIME FITNESS

Anytime Fitness Franchisor LLC (AFF), an operator of the fastest-growing fitness club “ANYTIME FITNESS” franchise in the world, with more than 4 million members at more than 4,800 gyms on all seven continents, filed an opposition on December 29, 2022.

AFF argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (viii), (x), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law on the grounds that “ANYTIME FITNESS” has become famous among relevant consumers as a source indicator of the fitness gym opening 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the term “ANYTIME” is a dominant portion of cited mark (TM Reg nos. 5284268 and 5742766) in connection with fitness-related services in class 41. If so, the consumers are likely to confuse the source of the opposed mark with AFF when used on fitness-related services because of close resemblance between the opposed mark and “ANYTIME FITNESS”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board found the opposed mark, from its configuration, gives rise to a pronunciation and meaning of “anytime” because the digit “24” is inherently descriptive.

In the meantime, the Board held the cited mark has a pronunciation of “ANYTIMIE FITNESS” and does not give rise to any specific meaning as a whole. Even if the word “FITNESS” lacks distinctiveness in relation to fitness-related services, the Board has a reason to believe the cited mark shall be assessed in its entirety by virtue of a tight combination with other elements.

When it comes to compare a dominant portion “anytime” of the opposed mark with “ANYTIME FITNESS”, the consumers are unlikely to confuse the source of two marks from visual, phonetical and conceptual points of view, the Board said.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO concluded dissimilarity of mark and unlikelihood of confusion, and decided to dismiss the opposition entirely.

Shangri-La Unsuccessful in Trademark Opposition Over “Shangri-La Golf”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Shangri-La Hotels against TM Reg no. 6610570 for the mark “Shangri-La-Golf” in class 35 due to dissimilarity between “Shangri-La” and “Shangri-La-Golf”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900465, decided on July 26, 2023]

Opposed mark

A Japanese individual filed a stylized word mark “Shangri-La-Golf” (see below) for use on retail and wholesale services in relation to woven fabrics, beddings, clothing, footwear, and personal articles in class 35 with the JPO on June 22, 2020.

The JPO examiner rejected the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations for wordmark “SHANGRI-LA”.

However, as a result of the JPO Appeal Board’s decision that found dissimilar to “SHANGRI-LA”, the mark could be registered on September 6, 2022.


Opposition by Shangri-La Hotels

Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd filed an opposition against the opposed mark on November 11, 2022 and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (viii), (x), (xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law due to a remarkable degree of recognition of the cited mark “Shangri-La” and close resemblance between the opposed mark and “Shangri-La”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board questioned a remarkable degree of recognition of the cited mark among relevant public in Japan by stating that the produced evidence is insufficient to find such recognition objectively.

As for appearance, sound and meaning of the opposed mark, the Board found

“The opposed mark consists of “Shangri”, “La”, and “Golf” written in the same font and size, and tightly united by a hyphen (-). Visually, there is no reason to find respective element perse independently plays a role in source indicator of the opposed mark. Besides, the sound arising from the opposed mark as a whole can be pronounced easily.

Even if the term “Golf” has the meaning of a kind of ball game, it is reasonable to find that the term would not be recognized as directly indicating a descriptive meaning or specific quality of the services in question. Relevant consumers would see the opposed mark as a whole.

Therefore, the opposed mark shall be assessed in its entirety and give rise to a pronunciation of “Shangri-La-Golf” and no specific meaning.”

Based on the above finding, the Board decided the opposed mark “Shangri-La-Golf” is dissimilar to the cited mark “Shanri-La” because there is visual and phonetical distinction between the marks by virtue of the term “Golf” and the opposed mark does not give rise to a meaning related to ‘a remote usually idyllic hideaway’.

Accordingly, the Board found the opposition baseless and decided the opposed mark remains as the status quo.

Japan: Trademark Law Revision Act promulgated on June 14, 2023

The Japan Trademark Law Revision Act of 2023 (Act No. 51) passed Congress on June 7 and was promulgated on June 14. Hot topics of the revision are:


1. An individual can register his/her name as a trademark to the extent that it has acquired a substantial degree of recognition among relevant consumers of the designated goods or services

Current law provides that the name of a person is unregistrable if there is another person of the same name unless obtaining his/her consent (Article 4(1)(viii)).

Current – Article 4(1)(viii)

Trademark shall not be registered if the mark contains the portrait of another person, or the name, famous pseudonym, professional name, or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof (except those the registration of which has been approved by the person concerned)

By virtue of the revision, in the event that the name of a person has been widely recognized as a source indicator of his/her business, the individual can register his/her name without the consent of another person of the same name.

Revision – Article 4(1)(viii)

Trademark shall not be registered if the mark contains the portrait of another person, or the full name of another person (limited to that has been widely recognized as a result of actual use on goods or services of the person’s business), the name, famous pseudonym, professional name or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof (except those the registration of which has been approved by the person concerned), or the name of another person that would not meet with requirements specified by government ordinance.

It should note above revision does not apply to the name of a company (legal entity). A company can’t register its name without the consent of another company of the same name if exists.


 2. A mark can be registered even if it is subject to Article 4(1)(xi) which prohibits registration of any mark identical or similar to earlier trademark registration, on the condition that the earlier trademark owner gives consent and there is no likelihood of confusion with the earlier mark as a matter of fact.

For long years, the JPO has not considered, in the course of trademark examination, consent from earlier trademark owners as a pass to open the gate for registration.

Due to a rigid examination practice, the applicant and earlier trademark owner, regardless of mutual agreement to give consent to trademark registration in Japan and other jurisdictions, were all the way obliged to temporally transfer their trademark right to either party and then take action to assign it back after the JPO granted registration of the applied mark.

By virtue of the revision, the applicant can overcome the refusal based on a conflict with earlier trademark registration in Japan by filing a letter of consent from the earlier trademark owner and the JPO examiner believes the co-existence of both marks would not cause confusion.

New – Article 4(4)

Trademark shall not be rejected under Article 4(1)(xi) provided that the applicant obtains consent from the owner of the cited mark under the article and it is unlikely to cause confusion with the cited owner and its exclusive or non-exclusive licensee when used on goods or services designated under the application.

It should note the JPO still has the discretion to reject or cancel trademark registration even after the filing of a letter of consent where they find a likelihood of confusion or actual confusion (Article 52-2).


When does the revised act come into force?

The revised act is set to become effective from April 1, 2024.

Dolce & Gabbana Unsuccessful in Blocking Trademark “Ms. dolce”

The Japan Patent Office dismissed a trademark opposition claimed by the Italian luxury firm, Dolce & Gabbana against trademark registration no. 6506687 for the word mark “Ms. dolce” in class 25 by finding a less likelihood of confusion with “Dolce & Gabbana.”

[Opposition case no. 2022-900141, decided on March 23, 2023]

“Ms. dolce”

The opposed mark, consisting of the word “Ms. dolce”, was filed by a Japanese company, BEANS Co., Ltd. for use on footwear in class 25 with the JPO on May 31, 2021 (TM Application no. 2021-066636).

The company promotes women’s pumps bearing the mark “Ms. Dolce” via the Internet.

A capture from Rakuten “AmiAmi” online shop

The JPO admitted registration on January 31, 2022, and published it for post-grant opposition on February 8, 2022.


Opposition by Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana filed an opposition on April 6, 2022, and argued the opposed mark “Ms. dolce” shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law since relevant consumes are likely to confuse the source of footwear bearing the opposed mark with Dolce & Gabbana because of a close resemblance between “Ms. dolce” and the mark “Dolce” that has become famous per se as a source indicator of the opponent and been known for the abbreviation of Domenico Dolce, as an Italian fashion designer and a co-founder of Dolce & Gabbana.

Article 4(1)(xv) is a provision to prohibit registration of a trademark which is likely to cause confusion with the business of other entities.

Article 4(1)(viii) prohibits registration of trademarks that contain the representation or name of any person, famous pseudonym, professional name, or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not admit the term “Dolce” per se has become famous as a source indicator of Dolce & Gabbana by finding that given the famous brand “Dolce & Gabbana” has been represented adjacent to the term “Dolce” on their goods, the Board has a reasonable doubt if the term has acquired a certain degree of reputation as a source indicator of the opponent from the produced evidence. Besides, the Board questioned whether “Dolce” has been known as an abbreviation of “Dolce & Gabbana” due to the same reason.

The Board assessed both marks have a low degree of similarity from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view by stating:

  1. Relevant consumers are unlikely to confuse the marks in appearance because of the distinction of the letters and configuration that constitute respective marks.
  2. The consumers are clearly able to distinguish two sounds with or without “Ms.”
  3. The opposed mark gives rise to a meaning of a woman named “dolce”. Meanwhile, the cited mark has a meaning of ‘sweet; dessert’ in the Italian language.

If so, even though footwear is closely associated with the opponent business, the Board has no reason to believe that relevant consumers would confuse a source of footwear bearing the opposed mark with Dolce & Gabbana by taking into consideration a low degree of similarity of the marks and insufficient evidence to bolster famousness of the cited mark “Dolce”.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided the opposed mark shall not be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii) and (xv).

How to prevent registration of your business name by others

On September 29, 2022, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, a manufacturer of golf equipment known as “PING”, against TM Reg no. 6465154 for wordmark “PingCAP” in classes 9, 35 and 42.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900019]

PingCAP

The opposed mark, consisting of the wordmark “PingCAP” in standard character, was filed by Beijing PingCAP Xingchen Technology and Development Co., Ltd., for use on computer programs and computer-related goods and services in classes 9, 35, and 42 on December 7, 2020 (TM App no. 2020-150919).

The JPO examiner granted protection on October 25, 2021, and published for opposition on November 2, 2021.


Opposition by PING

Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, doing business as Ping, Inc., a manufacturer of golf equipment, better known as “PING” filed an opposition against “PingCAP” on January 21, 2022, and disputed, among other things, the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Article 4(1)(viii) is a provision to prohibit the registration of trademarks that contain the representation or name of any person, famous pseudonym, professional name, or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof.

Karsten argued the term “PING” has been a famous abbreviation of Ping, Inc. (US subsidiary), or Ping Golf Japan Co., Ltd. (a Japanese subsidiary) in view of the substantial reputation of the golf brand “PING”.

The article does not require the famousness of the ‘name of any person where a trademark fully contains a business legal name. In other words, any mark containing a full name or business legal name shall be rejected under the article without the consent of the such person or business entity.

In the meantime, where the mark does not contain a full business name, but a part of the business legal name, the article is applicable only where the business entity can prove the famousness of the literal elements contained in the trademark filed by others.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board found that, from the totality of the produced evidence, it is unobvious that the cited mark “PING” has become famous as an abbreviation of Ping, Inc. or Ping Golf Japan Co., Ltd, and decided the opposed mark shall not be subject to Article 4(1)(viii).


As mentioned above, the Japan Trademark Law prohibits the registration of a trademark that contains a full business name without the consent of the business entity even though the name has not become famous.

Where a trademark just contains a portion of a business legal name, it is prohibited only where the portion has become famous to indicate the entity.

Unsuccessful opposition against LEGOHAIR

On August 3, 2022, the JPO Opposition Board dismissed a trademark opposition filed by toy giant, Lego Juris A/S against TM Reg no. 6445411 for the “Lego Hair” mark with a device in class 44 by finding dissimilarity to and the unlikelihood of confusion with “LEGO”.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900432]


Lego Hair

The opposed mark, consisting of the word “Lego Hair” and a device (see below), was filed by the hair salon provider Lego Hair Co., Ltd., for use in hair styling services, hair treatment salon services, hair coloring services, skin caring, body caring, manicuring, beauty salon services, barbershops, and other related services in class 44 with the JPO on October 26, 2020.

The JPO granted protection of the Logo Hair mark on September 13, 2021, and the mark was published for opposition on October 12, 2021.


Opposition by Lego

LEGO Juris A/S, the world’s largest Danish toy manufacturer, filed an opposition on the final day of a two-month duration for opposition, and argued the Lego Hair mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier TM Reg no. 2621425 and IR 1006003 for the stylized LEGO mark (see below).

LEGO argued that given the word “Hair” is descriptive in relation to the services in question, the term “Lego” shall be a prominent portion of the opposed mark as a source indicator accordingly. In view of the high reputation and popularity of the stylized LEGO mark, relevant consumers are likely to associate the opposed mark with LEGO and confuse the source when used on hair salon services.


JPO decision

The Opposition Board admitted the stylized LEGO mark has acquired a remarkable degree of reputation and popularity as a source indicator of the opponent’s goods and business. In the meantime, the Board questioned whether the term “LEGO” perse has become famous among relevant consumers as well by taking into consideration the produced evidence.

The Board had a view that the literal portion “Lego Hair” of the opposed mark shall be considered in its entirety. Based on the finding, the Board held the opposed mark is dissimilar to the stylized LOGO mark from visual and phonetical points of view. In concept, the stylized LEGO mark gives rise to a meaning of “famous brick- toy brand by LEGO”, but the opposed mark has no specific meaning. If so, both marks are incomparable from the concept.

Because of a low degree of similarity of the mark and less relatedness between toys and hair salon services, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of the services in question bearing the opposed mark with the opponent or any entity systematically or economically connected with LEGO.

Based on the foregoing, the Opposition Board found the opposed mark shall not be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii), (xi), (xv), and (xix) and decided to remain valid.

DIOR Successful in Blocking Trademark “zovladior”

On December 28, 2021, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with Christian Dior in a trademark opposition against TM Reg no. 6227664 for the word mark “zovladior” in classes 3, 5, 9, and 10 by finding a likelihood of confusion with a world-renowned fashion brand “Dior”.
[Opposition case no. 2020-900133]


“zovladior”

The opposed mark, “zovladior” in standard character, was sought for registration by a Japanese company to be used on cosmetics, perfume, soaps, and detergents in class 3, pharmaceutical preparations, dietary supplements, dietary beverages and foods, beverages, and foods for babies in class 5, eyeglasses and goggles, sunglasses in class 9, massage apparatus, esthetic massage apparatus, electric massage apparatus for household purposes in class 10 on January 30, 2019.

The JPO examiner granted protection of the opposed mark on January 30, 2020, and published for opposition on March 10, 2020.


Opposition by Christian Dior

To contend registration within a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, Christian Dior Couture filed an opposition on May 8, 2020.

In the opposition, Christian Dior claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii), (xi), (xv), (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law on the grounds that “zovladior” contains the mark “Dior”, an abbreviation of a world-renowned fashion brand “Christian Dior” and the opponent. If so, it is reasonable to consider the term “dior” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark that gives rise to the same sound and concept with the senior registered mark “Dior” owned by the opponent.


JPO decision

The Opposition Board of JPO admitted a substantial degree of reputation and popularity of “Dior” as an abbreviation of “Christian Dior” and the opponent in relation to fashion items including cosmetics, perfumes, watches, bags, women’s dresses, sunglasses.

On the grounds that 4 letters out of 9 are the same as the opponent’s mark “Dior”, the Board found there is a medium level of similarity between “zovladior” and “Dior.”

In view of a high degree of reputation and originality of the opponent mark, and close association between the opponent business and the goods in question, the Board has reason to believe relevant consumers with an ordinary care would conceive of the opponent at the sight of “zovladior” when used on goods in question.

If so, it is likely that the consumers would recognize a source of goods in question bearing the opposed mark from Christian Dior Couture or any entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO sided with the opponent and decided to cancel the opposed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv).

DIOR Failed to Cancel Trademark “DIORLV”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) did not side with Christian Dior Couture in a trademark opposition against TM Reg no. 6305075 for word mark “DIORLV” in class 25 by finding dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with a world-renowned fashion brand “Dior”.

[Opposition case no. 2020-900352, Gazette issued date: November 26, 2021]

“DIORLV”

The opposed mark, “DIORLV” in standard character, was sought for registration by a Chinese individual to be used on underwear, coats, pajamas, swimsuits, raincoats, footwear, caps and hats, gloves, trousers, skirts, yoga shirts, yoga pants in class 25 on December 25, 2019.

The JPO examiner granted protection of the opposed mark on October 13, 2020, and published for opposition on November 4, 2020.


Opposition by Christian Dior

To contend registration within a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, Christian Dior Couture filed an opposition on December 25, 2020.

In the opposition, Christian Dior asserted the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii), (xi), (xv), (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law on the grounds that the opposed “DIORLV” mark contains the term “Dior”, an abbreviation of a world-renowned fashion brand “Christian Dior” and the opponent. Besides, the opposed mark will be perceived as a combination of abbreviation of two famous brands, “Christian Dior” and “Louis Vuitton.” If so, it is reasonable to consider the term “DIOR” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark that gives rise to the same sound and concept with the senior registered mark “Dior” owned by the opponent.


JPO decision

The Opposition Board of JPO admitted a substantial degree of reputation and popularity of “Dior” as an abbreviation of “Christian Dior” and the opponent in relation to fashion items, e.g., women’s dresses, bags, shoes, jewelry, glasses, watches, fountain pens, lighters.

In the meantime, the Board did not find the term “DIOR” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark. Based on the overall assessment of similarity, the Board held both marks dissimilarity by stating that:

  1. From appearance and pronunciation, “DIORLV” and “Dior” look sufficiently different with or without “LV” in the suffix position.
  2. Both marks are distinguishable in concept since “DIORLV” does not give rise to any specific meaning. “Dior” has a meaning of world-renowned fashion brand “Christian Dior.”

Given a low degree of similarity of the marks, it is unlikely that relevant consumers would recognize a source of goods in question bearing the opposed mark from Christian Dior Couture or any entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent.

Furthermore, the Board has no reason to believe the term “DIOR” of the opposed mark is separable from the term “LV” and independently plays a role in the source indicator. Accordingly, the opposed mark shall not be construed to contain a famous abbreviation of the opponent.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire opposition and decided the opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.

Like a Jaguar, but not JAGUAR

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. against trademark registration no. 6244325 for word mark “Like a Jaguar” on cosmetics and other goods in class 3 by finding dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with “JAGUAR.”
[Opposition case no. 2020-900165, Gazette issued date: December 14, 2020]

Opposed mark

An opposed mark consists of the term “Like a Jaguar” in a gothic type and its transliteration in a Japanese katakana character as below.

The mark was filed by KOSE Corporation on May 10, 2019, for use on ‘cosmetics; soaps and detergents; dentifrices; perfume and flavor materials; incense; breath-freshening preparations; false nails; false eyelashes; cosmetic cotton wool; fabric softeners for laundry use; adhesives for affixing false eyelashes; adhesive paper; cotton sticks for cosmetic purposes’ in class 3.

JPO, going through substantive examination, admitted registration and published for post-grant opposition on April 28, 2020.

Apparently, KOSE uses the mark “Like a Jaguar” to represent a lipstick color for ‘ADDICTION The Lipstick Satin’ 008.

Captured from website – everglowcosmetics.com

Opposition by Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. filed a trademark opposition on June 25, 2020, before the JPO and claimed that the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii), (xi), and (xv) of the Trademark Law by citing trademark registrations for its iconic logo consisting of the image of a leaping jaguar and the word “JAGUAR” (see below), which allegedly has been used on the opponent’s products since 1935.

Article 4(1)(viii) prohibits registration of trademarks that contain the representation or name of any person, famous pseudonym, professional name or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof for the purpose of protecting the personal rights of a living individual.

Article 4(1)(xi) is a provision to prohibit registering a junior mark that is deemed identical with, or similar to, any senior registered mark.

Article 4(1)(xv) provides that a mark shall not be registered where it is likely to cause confusion with other business entity’s well-known goods or services, to the benefit of a brand owner as well as users’ benefits.

Jaguar Land Rover argued that the opposed mark has been confusingly similar to the cited mark since the opposed mark “Like a Jaguar” gives rise to a meaning of ‘Similar to Jaguar’ in its entirety. Besides, given the mark “JAGUAR” has obtained a high level of popularity among relevant consumers as a source indicator of the opponent’s motorcars, apparels, fragrances, and other licensed goods, the consumers would notice the term “Jaguar” as a dominant portion of the opposed mark and thus confuse or misconceive it with the opponent consequently.

JPO decision

The Opposition Board did not admit a high level of popularity of the cited mark by stating that the opponent failed to produce sufficient evidence in an objective manner. According to the allegation, opponents sold more than 100,000 cars around the globe in 2019. But relevant evidence was not produced to demonstrate the sales. Due to this reason, it is unknown how many cars of the opponent were sold in Japan. Likewise, there was little evidence to show a high recognition of the cited mark in relation to goods other than cars.

Provided that the mark “JAGUAR” was found insufficiently famous for the opponent cars, the Board has no reason to believe that relevant consumers would see the term “Jaguar” of the opposed mark as a dominant source indicator. If so, both marks shall be assessed in their entirety.

The opposed mark gives rise to a meaning of ‘similar to a large spotted wild cat of South America’ and a pronunciation of ‘laɪk ə dʒæɡ.wɑːr’. The term “Like a” sufficiently differentiates the opposed mark from the cited mark in appearance, sound, and concept.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found relevant traders and consumers are unlikely to confuse or associate the opposed mark with the opponent or any business entity economically or systematically connected with Jaguar Land Rover when used on the goods in question. In conclusion, the opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.