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.

GUCCI Unsuccessful in Trademark Opposition

On July 12, 2022, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Italian fashion house Gucci against Japan Trademark Registration no. 6384970 for the mark “CUGGL” with a hand-painted line in pink by finding less likelihood of confusion with famous fashion brand “GUCCI”.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900284]

CUGGL

Opposed mark, consisting of the term “CUGGL” with a hand-painted line in pink, was applied for use on clothing, footwear, headwear, and apparel in class 25 by an individual on October 6, 2020.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed mark and published it for opposition on May 25, 2021.


Opposition by GUCCI

Italian high-end luxury fashion house, GUCCI filed an opposition with the JPO on July 26, 2021, and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xv), and (xix) of the Trademark Law due to similarity and likelihood of confusion with famous fashion brand “GUCCI”.

GUCCI claimed the opposed mark was sought with malicious intention to free-ride goodwill and reputation in a manner of hiding the lower part of the term “CUGGL” by a pink painted line to the extent consumers could recognize it as if “GUCCI”. In fact, the registrant promotes T-shirts bearing the opposed mark with the most part of the term hidden.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted a remarkable degree of popularity and reputation of the opponent’s “GUCCI” mark.

In the meantime, the Board did not find a resemblance between “GUCCI” and “CUGGL” from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view. Due to a low degree of similarity of the mark, the Board had no reason to believe that relevant consumers would misconceive a source of goods in question bearing the opposed mark from GUCCI or any entity systematically or economically connected to the opponent.

Assuming a low degree of similarity of the mark and less likelihood of confusion, the Board can’t find a reasonable ground to admit the applicant had a malicious intention to free-ride goodwill and reputation of GUCCI and do harm to the opponent.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations and decided the opposed mark was valid.

Does “GRILL SWISS” mislead quality when used on non-Swiss confectionary?

The Opposition Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) decided Trademark Registration no. 6372876 for the “GRILL Swiss” mark would be unlikely to mislead consumers as to the quality of goods in class 30 even when used on non-Swiss confectionary.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900258, Gazette issue date: July 29, 2022]

Opposed mark

Opposed mark, outlined letters of “GRILL Swiss” on a red background, was applied for use on various goods and services in classes 29, 30, and 43 without any geographical restriction of the origin of respective goods and services on April 9, 2019, by Ginza Grill.

The opposed mark has been used on a Western food restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo since 1947.

The JPO granted protection of the mark and published for opposition on April 27, 2021.


Opposition by Choco Swiss

Choco Swiss filed an opposition against the “GRILL Swiss” mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xvi) of the Trademark Law.

Article 4(1)(xvi) is a provision to prohibit the registration of a trademark that is likely to mislead as to the quality of the goods or services.

The Trademark Examination Guideline (TEG) provides an example that the “SWISSTEX” mark for use on watches shall be unregistrable based on the article. It should be noted that the mark can be registered in the event that the goods are amended to Swiss-made watches.

Opponents claimed the opposed mark “GRILL Swiss” caused a misunderstanding of the quality of following goods in class 30 when used on non-Swiss foods.

Aromatic preparations for food, not from essential oils; Tea; Coffee [roasted, powdered, granulated, or in drinks]; Prepared coffee and coffee-based beverages; Cocoa [roasted, powdered, granulated, or in drinks]; Prepared cocoa and cocoa-based beverages; Ice; Confectionery; Bread and buns; Sandwiches; Steamed buns stuffed with minced meat [Chuka-manjuh]; Hamburgers [sandwiches]; Pizzas; Hot dog sandwiches; Meat pies; Seasonings [other than spices]; Spices; Unroasted coffee beans; Cereal preparations; Chocolate spread; Chinese stuffed dumplings [Gyoza, cooked]; Chinese steamed dumplings [Shumai, cooked]; Sushi; Fried balls of batter mix with small pieces of octopus [Takoyaki]; Boxed lunches consisting of rice, with added meat, fish or vegetables; Ravioli; Cooked rice; Cooked curry rice; Cooked curry rice with fried pork, rice with hashed meat; omelet with a filling of ketchup‐seasoned fried rice; Instant confectionery mixes; Pasta sauce; Husked rice; Husked oats; Husked barley; Gluten for food; Flour.

Opponents argued the opposed mark uses the word “Swiss” in a prominent manner, which indicates Switzerland. Besides, the white-outlined letters on a red background give consumers an impression of Switzerland because of the same color as the Swiss flag. Therefore, if the opposed mark is used on non-Swiss foods including Swiss confectionary, a famous origin of chocolate, relevant consumers would inevitably misunderstand as if the goods bearing the opposed mark were originally manufactured and sold in Switzerland.


JPO Decision

The Opposition Board found both words “GRILL” and “Swiss” are less distinctive as a source indicator in relation to the goods in question equivalently. Being that the term “GRILL Swiss” would not give rise to any specific meaning, the Board held the literal element of the opposed mark is a coined word. If so, it is unlikely that relevant consumers consider the word “SwiSS” of the opposed mark as an indication to represent a specific quality of the goods including confectionery.

Based on the above findings, the Board decided the opposed mark contains a coined word within the red device and it would not represent the quality (place of production, place of sale, etc.) of the goods in question. If so, the opposed mark shall not be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xvi) and remains valid as the status quo.