Failed Opposition by Monster Energy over PREDATOR mark

In a trademark opposition claimed by Monster Energy Company against TM Reg no. 6471165 for the stylized PREDATOR mark in class 30, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed the opposition by finding dissimilarity of goods between ‘coffee, tea, cocoa’ and ‘carbonated beverages, energy drink’ in class 32.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900010, decided on November 7, 2022]

Opposed mark

Acer Incorporated, a Taiwanese multinational hardware, and electronics corporation filed a stylized mark “PREDATOR” (see below) for use on various foods including ‘instant coffee, coffee beverages, coffee, tea, cocoa’ in class 30 with the JPO on January 6, 2021.

The JPO examiner granted protection on November 11, 2021 (TM Reg no. 5461165), and the opposed mark was published for opposition on December 7, 2021.

Opposition by Monster Energy

Monster Energy Company filed an opposition on January 13, 2022, and claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing TM Reg no. 6408734 for word mark “PREDATOR” in standard character over ‘carbonated beverages; energy drink’ in class 32.

The opponent argued that ‘instant coffee, coffee beverages, coffee, tea, cocoa’ designated in class 30 shall be deemed similar to ‘carbonated beverages; energy drink’ in class 32 because:
(1) five major Japanese beverage suppliers manufacture and distribute not only the goods in question, but also other beverages identical or similar to the cited drinks e.g., soft drinks, fruit drinks, beverage vegetable juices, and whey drinks.
(2) Both goods are generally sold at convenience stores, supermarkets, department stores, drugstores, and other food outlets, vending machines, and train station kiosks, so they share the same sales locations.
(3) Both ingredients overlap and their uses as non-alcoholic beverages are common. Namely, there are purchased and consumed at teatime, for relaxation during breaks, for hydration, and as drinks during and after meals.
(4) Both goods are consumed by general consumers.

It is indisputable that both marks are similar in sound and meaning. Being that both marks and goods are deemed similar, the opposed mark shall not be registrable under Article 4(1)(vi) of the Japan Trademark Law.

JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board found similarities in both marks.

However, the Board did not uphold the argument pertinent to the similarity of goods by stating that:

Although it is true the main consumers of non-alcoholic beverages are general consumers, that they are ultimately sold in the same vending machines and sales corners, and that they are consumed for similar purposes, the Board has a reason to believe these goods have different suppliers, gradients, and distribution channels more often than not. If so, both goods shall not be considered similar at all events.

Based on the above findings, the Board decided the opposed mark shall not be canceled and dismissed the oppositions by Monster Energy entirely.

No Success for Monster Energy Claws

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed a trademark opposition claimed by MONSTER ENERGY COMPANY against trademark registration no. 6091273 for “M” logo design on goods/services in class 3,5,35 and negated the likelihood of confusion with Monster Energy Claws.
[Opposition case no. 2018-900390, Gazette issue date: February 28, 2020]


Opposed mark, “M” logo design (see below), was filed by AND BEAUTY JAPAN Co., Ltd. on June 12, 2018 on goods of hair nourishers; cosmetics; soaps and detergents in class 3, medicinal preparations for stimulating hair growth; pharmaceutical preparations; dietary supplements for humans in class 5, retail services and wholesale services for above goods in class 35, and registered for publication on November 13, 2018.

AND BEAUTY JAPAN promotes MONSTER HAiR sprays for men. Opposed mark is actually represented on the spray can.

Opposition by Monster Energy

On December 26, 2018, Monster Energy Company filed an opposition and argued opposed mark shall be revocable under Article 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law due to a likelihood of confusion with Monster Energy Claws.

Article 4(1)(xv)

Article 4(1)(xv) prohibits to register a trademark which is likely to cause confusion with a business of other entity.

Monster Energy argued that opponent has used the mark Monster Energy Claws on energy drinks since 2002. In Japan, since its debut in May 2012, approximately 236 million cans were sold in three years which amount 175 million USD or more. Monster Energy has been aggressively promoting the energy drinks in sports and music events, and grants license to supply bracelets, key holders, T-shirts, headgears, racing jackets, gloves, helmets for sports, stickers, umbrellas, videogames. According to a survey of popular energy drinks, Monster Energy holds a 25% market share in Japan, 2013. These facts suggest Monster Energy Claws has acquired substantial reputation and popularity among relevant consumers as a source indicator of opponent. Besides, both marks give rise to visual, phonetical, and conceptual impression relating to an alphabetical letter “M”. Given energy drinks are closely associated with pharmaceutical preparations and dietary supplements for humans, relevant consumers are likely to misconceive the source of goods using opposed mark with Monster Energy or an entity systematically or economically connected with opponent.

Board Decision

At the outset, JPO provided a viewpoint that Monster Energy drinks belong to carbonated drinks [refreshing beverages] in class 32. If so, opponent failed to demonstrate its market share in carbonated drinks. From the produced evidences, the Board admits relevant traders and the young generation would recognize Monster Energy Claws as a source indicator of opponent to some extent, however, it is doubtful whether opponent mark has been highly known among general consumers of carbonated drinks.

In the assessment of similarity of mark, the Board found opponent mark shows three vertical parallel black shaky lines of different lengths whose upper parts is broader and which, from the perspective of the relevant public, might resemble three ‘claws’ or a very abstract depiction to which no specific and clear meaning can be attributed. With regard to the phonetic and conceptual aspect, the signs at issue are incomparable. From appearance, it is obvious that both marks are sufficiently distinguishable. Thus, the Board held the signs at issues are dissimilar and unlikely to cause confusion.

Besides, the Board negated close relation between energy drinks and pharmaceutical preparations, dietary supplements for humans in view of its nature, purpose, usage, distribution channel and manufacturers.

In respect of the overall assessment of the likelihood of confusion, having regard to all the relevant factors, the Based found there was no likelihood of confusion on the part of the relevant public and decided opposed mark shall not be revocable under Article 4(1)(xv).