A trademark dispute over ZOO

In a recent administrative decision, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) found TM Reg no. 6246792 shall not be invalidated in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law because of dissimilarity to earlier TM Reg no. 6139339 for mark “ZOO”.

[Invalidation case no. 2021-890029, decision date: November 1, 2022]

TM Reg no. 6246792

The disputed mark consists of literal elements, “SERIES” and “70th Anniversary Premium Brand”, and figurative element that looks like “ZOO” or “700” (see below).

The mark was filed for use on flour and other foods in class 30 in the name of ODAZO SEIFUN Co., Ltd. on March 15, 2019.

According to the applicant’s website, the company uses the mark on a series of high-quality wheat flour and clearly calls it “ZOO”.

The JPO granted registration of the mark on April 20, 2020.


TM Reg no. 6139339

The opponent has owned earlier TM Reg no. 6139339 for the mark “ZOO” in three colors (see below) in classes 29, 30, and 41 since April 19, 2019.

On June 28, 2021, the opponent filed an invalidation action and argued that the disputed mark shall be invalidation due to its close resemblance to the earlier trademark “ZOO” in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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

The opponent alleged that the disputed mark obviously gives rise to the same pronunciation and sound as the earlier mark from its configuration. If so, both marks shall be considered confusingly similar when used on goods in class 30.


JPO decision

Astonishingly, the JPO Invalidation Board found both marks are dissimilar from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view by stating;

In assessing the similarity between the disputed mark and the cited mark, both marks are clearly distinguishable from overall appearance, as there is a clear difference between the three tiers/one tier, literal elements and color, even if some components are colored in red.

In addition, the figurative element of the disputed mark is recognizable as a geometric figure. Meanwhile, the cited mark consists of the word “ZOO”. Therefore, the disputed mark does not give rise to a sound of “ZOO”, but “Series Seventies Anniversary Premium Brand,” “Series,” and “Seventies Anniversary Premium Brand”. It is obvious that both marks are unlikely to cause confusion in sound.

Assuming that the figurative elements of the disputed mark does not give rise to any specific meaning, there is no reason to find similarity in concept between the disputed mark and the cited mark in its entirety.

Therefore, the disputed mark is considered dissimilar to the cited mark in terms of the impressions, memories, associations that they give to traders and consumers through appearance, sound and concept.

Based on the foregoing, the Board held the disputed mark shall not be invalidated under Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law even if the goods in question are identical or similar to the designated goods of the cited mark, and dismissed the entire allegations.

Warner Defeated in Trademark Opposition over TWEETY

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Warner Bros against Japanese trademark registration no. 6452448 for the TWETYBIRD mark with a device by finding dissimilarity to and less likelihood of confusion with “Tweety”, a yellow canary bird, featured in the Warner Bros Looney Tunes animated cartoons.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900459, Decision date: October 26, 2022]

Japan TM Reg no. 6452448

The opposed mark, consisting of the word “TWETYBIRD” and an encircled “B” device (see below), was filed by a Chinese company for use on various goods in classes 3,9,14,18,25, and advertising and other services in class 35 on December 16, 2020.

The JPO granted protection on August 25, 2021, and the mark was published for opposition on October 26, 2021.


Opposition by Warner Bros

On December 27, 2021, before the lapse of a two-month opposition period, Warner Brothers Entertainment Incorporated filed an opposition with the JPO, and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations for the mark “Tweety”, a yellow canary bird (see below) featured in the Looney Tunes animated cartoons.

Warner Bros alleged that the cited marks have been remarkably famous for the title of the animated cartoons or the name of the cartoon character produced by Warner Bros. In view of the close resemblance between the famous mark “Tweety” and a literal element “Twety” of the opposed mark, it shall be considered the opposed mark is similar to and likely to cause confusion with the opposed mark when used on the goods and service in question.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted a certain degree of reputation and popularity of the cited marks to indicate a cartoon character. However, the Board questioned such popularity as a source indicator of Warner Bros from the totality of the circumstances and the produced evidence.

Besides, the Board found the literal element “TWETYBIRD” of the opposed mark shall be assessed in its entirety from the visual configuration. If so, the opposed mark would not give rise to a similar sound and meaning to “Tweety”. Therefore, the Board has a reason to believe that relevant consumers are unlikely to confuse a source of the goods and services in question bearing the opposed mark with Warner Bros due to a low degree of similarity between marks and reputation of the cited marks as a source indicator of Warner Bros.

In the decision, the Board mentioned it is doubtful if relevant consumers acquaint themselves with “Tweety Bird” as the full name of “Tweety”. If so, there is no reasonable ground to find the opposed mark violates morality or public order.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found the opposed mark shall not be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), (xv), and (xix) and dismissed the opposition entirely.

ZOOM vs ZOOM PHONE

In a trademark opposition disputing the similarity between “ZOOM” and “ZOOM PHONE” in relation to the SaaS service of class 42, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) found both marks dissimilar and sustained registration of TM Reg no. 6527182 “ZOOM PHONE” owned by Zoom Video Communications Inc.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900213, decided on October 26, 2022]

ZOOM PHONE

Zoom Phone is a cloud-based phone system, which allows you to place and receive calls via laptop or smartphone through the Zoom application.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. filed a trademark application for the wordmark “ZOOM PHONE” in standard character for use on web conferencing services; the transmission of instant messages; telepresence conferencing services; network conferencing services; teleconferencing services; videoconferencing services; audio teleconferencing; web messaging services in class 38, and software as a service [SaaS] in class 42 with the JPO on December 18, 2020.

The mark was registered on March 14, 2022, and published for opposition on March 23, 2022.


Opposition by Zoom

On May 23, 2022, before the lapse of a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, Zoom Co., Ltd., an owner of the trademark “ZOOM” in Japan, filed an opposition and argued the opposed mark shall be partially canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier registrations for word mark “ZOOM” in class 9.

The opponent argued that the opposed mark consists of two words, “ZOOM” and “PHONE”. The term “PHONE” lacks distinctiveness in relation to SaaS service since it makes use of telecommunication devices, inter alia smartphone. Therefore, the term “ZOOM” shall be a prominent portion as a source indicator of the opposed mark. If so, the opposed mark is deemed similar to the cited mark “ZOOM”.


JPO decision

The Opposition Board found the opposed mark shall be visually and phonetically considered in its entirety due to alphabets of the same font and size, and overall sound easily pronounced.

Even if the respective word has a specific meaning, relevant consumers would see the opposed mark as a coined word since the term “ZOOM PHONE” is not included in any dictionaries.

If so, the Board has a reason to believe the opposed mark shall be considered as a whole, and thus it is not allowed to compare the literal portion “ZOOM” of the opposed mark with the cited marks in assessing the similarity of the mark.

Based on the above findings, the Board assessed the similarity of both marks and held that:

The opposed mark gives rise to a pronunciation of ‘zuːm-foʊn’, but no specific meaning. In the meantime, the cited marks give rise to a pronunciation of ‘zuːm’ and the meaning of ‘the effect of a camera moving toward or away from a subject by using a zoom lens. Obviously, there is a clear distinction between the marks by virtue of the presence of the term “PHONE” from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view.

Consequently, the JPO decided the opposed mark “ZOOM PHONE” is dissimilar to the cited mark “ZOOM” and dismissed the opposition entirely.

ELLE vs Ellenail

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by HACHETTE FILIPACCHI PRESSE, Société Anonyme (FR) against Japanese trademark registration no. 6452048 for stylized wordmark “Ellenail” by finding dissimilarity to and less likelihood of confusion with French fashion magazine “ELLE”.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900440, Decision date: October 7, 2022]

Ellenail

The opposed mark, consisting of the term “Ellenail” with stylization (see below), was applied for registration on August 14, 2020, for goods and services relating to nail care and polish in classes 3, 18, 21, and 44 by es social management, Inc., a Japanese company.

The company opens “Ellenail” nail salons in Tokyo.

The JPO granted protection on October 6, 2021, and was published for opposition on October 26, 2021.


Opposition by ELLE

On December 17, 2021, HACHETTE FILIPACCHI PRESSE, Société Anonyme (hereinafter referred to as HFP), a French company responsible for the well-known women’s magazine ELLE, which had the largest readership of any fashion magazine in the world, filed an opposition with the JPO.

In the opposition, HFP contended that the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Article 4(1)(xi) is a provision to refrain from registering a junior mark that is identical with, or similar to, any earlier registered mark.

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

HFP argued that the opposed mark consists of two words, “Elle” and “nail”. It is obvious that the term “nail” lacks distinctiveness in connection with nail-related goods and services. Besides, in view of the fact that the term “nail” is an English word familiar among general consumers in Japan, the term “Elle” shall be considered a prominent portion of the opposed mark. Therefore, the opposed mark as a whole is similar to HFP’s earlier registrations for the mark “ELLE” which has acquired a substantial degree of reputation and popularity. Because of it, relevant consumers are likely to confuse or misconceive the opposed mark with HFP or any business entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent at the sight of the goods and services in question bearing the opposed mark.


JPO decision

The Board admitted the “ELLE” mark has acquired a high degree of reputation and popularity among relevant consumers and traders as a source indicator of the fashion magazines.

In the meantime, the Board found the opposed mark shall be assessed in its entirety from visual and conceptual points of view. Facts that the word “nail” is descriptive in relation to the goods and services in question and the term “Ellenail” is a combination of two different languages, namely “Elle” in French and “nail” in English, shall not be a good reason to consider the word “Elle” a prominent portion of the opposed mark because of a tight combination of two words. By finding this, the Board concluded the opposed mark is dissimilar to the “ELLE” mark.

Taking into consideration a quite low degree of similarity between the marks, and a remote association between nail-related goods and services and the opponent business, the Board had no reason to believe that relevant consumers would mistakenly assume the opposed goods or services originate from the same source as or are associated with, the opponent.

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

General Motors defeated in trademark opposition over HUMMER

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed a trademark opposition claimed by General Motors LLC against TM Reg no. 6387036 for “HEAVYDUTY HUMMER” with “HH” device by finding dissimilarity to and the unlikelihood of confusion with the automotive brand “HUMMER.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900295, Gazette issued date: September 30, 2022]

HEAVY DUTY HUMMER

The opposed mark, consisting of a word “HEAVYDUTY HUMMER” and “HH” device (see below), was filed with the JPO on February 18, 2021, for use on bicycles in class 12 and tent in class 22.

By virtue of the accelerated examination procedure, the mark was granted protection in two months (April 21, 2021) and published for opposition on June 1, 2021.


Opposition by General Motors

On August 2, 2021, before the lapse of a two-month opposition period, General Motors LLC filed an opposition by citing earlier TM Reg no. 2682898 for the wordmark “HUMMER” in classes 6,9,12,13,22.

In the opposition, GM contended that the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Article 4(1)(xi) is a provision to refrain from registering a junior mark that is 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 entities’ well-known goods or services, to the benefit of the brand owner and users.

GM argued that the opposed mark is similar to earlier registration for the mark “HUMMER” and relevant consumers are likely to confuse or misconceive the opposed mark with GM or any business entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent due to the high popularity of the opponent’s automotive brand “HUMMER” and the close resemblance between the opposed mark and “HUMMER”.


JPO decision

The Board negated a certain degree of reputation and popularity of the HUMMER mark among relevant consumers and traders as a source indicator of GM by stating:

“From the produced evidence, the opponent allegedly has used the cited mark as a brand name for four-wheel drive vehicles since 1999 that have been imported and sold in Japan since at least 2002. However, GM terminated its production in May 2010. Besides, being that there is no clear evidence to demonstrate the timing, sales volume, sales amount, market share, scale of marketing, and advertising in relation to “automobiles” and “bicycles” in Japan, the Board has no reason to find the cited mark has been widely recognized by the relevant public as a source indicator of the opponent business.”

In assessing the similarity of mark, the Board found that the literal portion “HEAVYDUTY HUMMER”, represented in the same font and the same size, gives a coherent and unified impression from appearance. The sound is not particularly redundant and can be pronounced in a series without difficulty. The term “HEAVYDUTY” is anything but an English word that is commonly used in Japan. If so, it is not permissible to separate and extract the term “HUMMER” from the opposed mark and compare it with the cited mark.

Based on the above findings, the Board compared the opposed mark with the cited mark in its entirety.

“In the presence or absence of the HH device and the term HEAVYDUTY, both marks are clearly distinguishable and there is no risk of confusion in appearance and sound. Since both marks do not give rise to any specific meaning, both marks are not comparable in concept.”

Consequently, the Board concluded that relevant traders or consumers would not confuse or misconceive a source of the opposed mark with GM or any entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent when used on any goods in question and allowed the opposed mark to survive.

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.

JPO rejected “BAMBI MAMA&BABY” due to a conflict with “BAMBI”

In a trademark appeal disputing the similarity between “BABMI MAMA&BABY” and “BAMBI”, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) affirmed the examiner’s refusal and decided to reject a junior mark “BAMBI MAMA&BABY” due to a conflict with earlier trademark registrations for word mark “BAMBI” owned by Disney Enterprises Inc.

[Appeal case: 2022-786, Decision date: September 7, 2022]

BAMBI

Bambi, a familiar name for a baby deer, has long been famous for a 1942 American animated film produced by Walt Disney.

Disney Enterprises Inc. has owned trademark registration for the wordmark “BAMBI” in various classes (including class 3) since 2008 in Japan (TM Reg no. 5127816). Bambi character design with “BAMBI” written in Japanese (see below) has been registered for five decades.


BAMBI MAMA&BABY

Langley Inc., a Japanese company, filed a trademark application for the wordmark “BAMBI MAMA&BABY” in standard character to be used on cosmetics; soaps and detergents; dentifrices; perfumes and flavor materials; false nails; false eyelashes in class 3 with the JPO on March 2, 2021.

In fact, Langley promotes skin care creams, skin milk, and supplements bearing the BAMBI MAMA&BABY mark. Click here.

Screen capture from https://bambiwater.jp/gold/mamababy/

The JPO examiner rejected the mark based on Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing TM Reg no. 5127816 “BAMBI” on October 14, 2021.

Langley filed an appeal against the refusal on January 19, 2022, and argued the dissimilarity of mark between “BAMBI” and “BAMBI MAMA&BABY”.


JPO Decision

The JPO Appeal Board found the literal elements of “MAMA&BABY” lacks distinctiveness in relation to the applied goods of class 3 because there are plenty of care products for babies and mothers by competitors on which the term “MAMA&BABY” has been used as a descriptive indication. In the meantime, the term “BAMBI”, famous for the Disney film, shall evidently give an impression of source indicator in the mind of relevant consumers.

If so, it is permissible to find the term “BAMBI” as a prominent portion of the applied mark, and thus compare the portion with the earlier mark in assessing the similarity of the mark.

Undoubtedly, the prominent portion of the applied mark is identical to the cited mark “BAMBI” from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view.

Being that TM Reg no. 5127816 designates the goods identical to the applied mark, there is no room to argue the dissimilarity of goods.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided to dismiss the appeal and rejected “BAMBI MAMA&BABY” due to a conflict with the earlier registered mark “BABMI” based on Article 4(1)(xi).

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.

LE MANS, Unsuccessful Trademark Race spending more than 24 Hours

On July 29, 2022, the Opposition Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed a trademark opposition filed by AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L’OUEST (A.C.O.), an owner of the mark “LE MANS”, against TM Reg no. 6374059 for wordmark “Le mans de elegance” on apparels in class 25.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900248]


Le mans de elegance

The opposed mark, consisting of the word “Le mans de elegance” in standard character, was applied for use on clothing, garters, sock suspenders, braces [suspenders] for clothing, waistbands, belts [clothing], footwear, masquerade costumes, sports shoes, clothes for sports in class 25 by a Japanese company named Analogue Co., Ltd. on October 15, 2020.

The JPO granted protection on March 12, 2021, and published for opposition on April 27, 2021.


Opposition by ACO

Opponent, AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L’OUEST, alleged the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations for the LE MANS mark in classes 25.

ACO argued that the mark “LE MANS” is famous to indicate the oldest sports car race “24 hours of Le Mans”. Due to the remarkable reputation of the mark “LE MANS” and the descriptive meaning of the term “de elegance” in relation to apparel, relevant consumers would see the literal element “Le mans” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark. If so, both marks shall be deemed similar from phonetical and conceptual points of view. Besides, there are precedent cases in which the JPO admitted close relatedness between automobile races and clothing. Taking into consideration the above facts, it is likely that relevant consumers would confuse the source of goods in question bearing the opposed mark with 24 hours of Le Mans and its organizer, or an entity systematically or economically connected with ACO.


JPO decision

The JPO found “The 24 hours of Le Mans” has been known for a major car race, however, questioned whether the term “LE MANS” has also become famous to indicate the race from the totality of the circumstances and the produced evidence by pointing out a fact that the term “LE MANS” has been frequently used with “24”. Consequently, the Board held the mark “LE MANS” has not acquired a certain degree of reputation and popularity as a source indicator of auto races among relevant consumers in Japan.

The Board assessed the similarity of mark in its entirety and found the opposed mark is dissimilar to the mark “LE MANS” from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view by stating that the cited mark gives rise to a meaning of a city in northwestern France.

In view of a low degree of similarity between the marks and recognition of the mark “LE MANS”, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of goods in question bearing the opposed mark with the opponent.

Based on the foregoing, the Board dismissed the entire allegations and decided the opposed mark to remain valid as the status quo.

No confusion between “InstaShop” and “Instagram”

On July 27, 2022, the Appeal Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) disaffirmed the examiner’s rejection and found TM Application no. 2019-152946 for “InstaShop” with device mark is dissimilar and thus unlikely to cause confusion with a famous mark “Insta” known as an abbreviation of “Instagram”.

[Appeal case no. 2021-12444]

InstaShop

The applied mark consists of a red rectangle with rounded corners, a motif depicting a white shopping basket, the term “InstaShop” in white with large font, and “Convenience delivered” in black with a smaller font (see below).

The mark was filed in the name of InstaShop DMCC, a UAE corporation, for use on ‘online ordering services; price comparison services; import-export agency services; compilation of information into computer databases; providing commercial information and advice for consumers in the choice of products and services; retail services and wholesale services for foods and beverages, clothing, footwear, bags, cosmetics, and others in class 35 and ‘car transport; truck transport; packaging of goods; freight brokerage; delivery of goods; warehousing; rental of warehouse space and others’ in class 39 on December 5, 2019.

The JPO examiner rejected the mark due to a likelihood of confusion with the famous mark “Insta”, known as an abbreviation of “Instagram” in connection with application software for posting and sharing images and videos, online social networking services, advertising, and publicity services based on Article 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Article 4(1)(xv) is a provision to refrain from registering a junior mark that is likely to cause confusion with other business entities’ well-known goods or services.

The applicant filed an appeal on September 16, 2021, and argued the unlikelihood of confusion with Instagram.


JPO decision

The JPO assessed the term “InstaShop” can be a prominent portion of the applied mark and play a role in source indicator per se, but it shall be dissimilar to the “Insta” mark from visual, phonetical points of view. Even if the concepts are not comparable, by taking into global consideration the impression, memory, and association that respective mark gives to consumers and traders, the Board has a reason to believe that both marks are distinctively dissimilar.

Being that the applied mark contains figurative elements and other words “Convenience delivered”. Due to the difference, the applied mark as a whole has a low degree of similarity to the “Insta” mark.

Besides, the Board does not find the services in question have a close association with goods and services of Instagram in view of purpose, business field.

Even if the “Insta” mark has acquired a certain degree of reputation and popularity mainly among young consumers in their teens and twenties, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers are likely to associate and confuse a source of the services in question bearing the applied mark with Instagram because of a low degree of similarity of marks and relatedness with respective goods and services.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided to disaffirm the examiner’s rejection and grant registration of the applied mark.