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.

TM Opposition: Claude Monet vs Monet Design

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS, an owner of Musée Marmottan Monet, and decided to cancel Japanese TM Registration no. 6245564 for a composite mark containing literal elements “Monet Design” in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law.

[Opposition case no. 2020-900171, Gazette issued date: October 29, 2021]

TM Reg no. 6245564

The opposed mark (see below) was sought for registration by a Japanese individual on various goods and services in class 16, 20, 25, 27, 35, 41, 42, and 45 on February 1, 2019.

The JPO granted protection on March 27, 2020, and published for opposition on May 12, 2020.


Opposition by ACADEMIE DES BEAUX ARTS

On July 10, 20210, before the lapse of a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS, an owner of Musée Marmottan Monet, filed an opposition. The opponent argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing IR 958197 for the wordmark “CLAUDE MONET” (see below).

Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law prohibits any mark likely to cause damage to the social and public interest and disrupt the order of fair competition from registration. Trademark Examination Guidelines set forth any sign created after “the Name of a Historical Person or Name of a Well-Known or Famous Deceased Person” shall be objectionable under the article.

TEG provides six factors to apply the article.

  1. Popularity of the well-known or famous historical person;
  2. Acceptance of the name of the historical person among the nation or region;
  3. Availability of the name of the historical person;
  4. Relationship between the availability of the name of the historical person and the designated goods or services;
  5. Circumstance, purpose, or reason of the application; and
  6. Relationship between the historical person and the applicant.

JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board found the late Claude Monet has been a world-famous French painter known even among the general public in Japan. There is no doubt that the public at the sight of the word “Monet” would conceive the painter. Because of it, “Monet” has been highly recognized as an abbreviation of the late Claude Monet.

Besides, it is certain that the opponent inherits the property and paintings of Claudia Monet. In view of activities of the opponent as a public organization to exhibit, manage, and promote the paintings in France as well as other countries, the word “Monet” has not only played a significant role in the business field of sightseeing and art but also acquired substantial value as public property of France.

As for the opposed mark, the Board does not find a reason to believe that the word “Monet” inseparably combines with other elements. If so, relevant consumers are likely to consider the word “Monet” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided to cancel the opposed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii).

Ariana Grande Loses Trademark Opposition at Japan Patent Office

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by GrandAri Inc., the owner of a trademark “ARIANA GRANDE”, against TM Reg no. 6202585 for wordmark “Arianna” to be used on cosmetics by finding dissimilarity between “Arianna” and “ARIANA GRANDE.”
[Opposition case no. 2020-900051, Gazette issued date: January 29, 2021.]

Opposed mark

Arianna Co., Ltd. applied for a wordmark “Arianna” registration for use on cosmetics, soaps, and detergents of Class 3 and medical apparatus of Class 10 with the JPO on January 7, 2019 (TM Application no. 2019-000339).

The JPO admitted the registration of the opposed mark on November 29, 2019, and published for opposition on Christmas Eve of the year.

Opposition by GrandAri Inc.

On February 21, 2020, GrandAri Inc. filed an opposition before the JPO and claimed that the opposed mark shall be revocable in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing International Registration no. 1260129 for wordmark “ARIANA GRANDE” and others over the goods of ‘Perfume; eau de parfum; fragranced body care preparations, namely, body lotions, body scrubs’ in Class 3.

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.

GrandAri argued that relevant consumers would easily think of American pop superstar from the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE”. Besides, because of her celebrity and popularity, she is affectionately called by her first name “ARIANA”. In view of the space between “ARIANA” and “GRANDE”, it is highly likely that the consumers would consider the term “ARIANA” as a dominant source indicator at the sight of the cited mark. It is no doubt that the opposed mark “Arianna” is confusingly similar to “ARIANA” since the mere difference of the letter ‘n’ is negligible in appearance and both terms give rise to the same pronunciation.

Article 4(1)(xv) provides that any 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 brand owners and users’ benefits.

GrandAri argued the cited mark is used on fragrances developed by Ariana herself, which are also called “ARIANA” in the advertisement.

Given a close resemblance between the opposed mark and the “ARIANA” mark, and a certain degree of popularity of the fragrances, firstly sold in November 2015 in Japan, it is likely to cause confusion with the cited mark when the opposed mark is used on the goods in question.

JPO Decision

The JPO admitted a high level of reputation and popularity of American pop singer, “ARIANA GRANDE” in Japan. In the meantime, the JPO questioned, from the produced evidence, whether the term “ARIANA” per se plays a role of the source indicator of Ariana Grande fragrances since it is constantly adjacent to the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE.”
Consequently, the JPO negated the famousness of the term “ARIANA” as a source indicator of the opponent’s goods.

As for the similarity of the marks, the JPO assessed that relevant consumers would see the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE” in its entirety because she is known and called by her full name. If so, both marks are distinctively dissimilar since the opposed mark does neither give rise to a pronunciation of “ARIANA GRANDE” nor a concept of American pop superstar.

The JPO dared to assess the similarity between the opposed mark “Arianna” and “ARIANA” and held that “Arianna” is not confusingly similar to “ARIANA” from a phonetical point of view. Due to a low level of similarity of the marks, the JPO does not have any reason to believe that the opposed mark would cause confusion with the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE” as well as “ARIANA” when used on cosmetics, soaps, and detergents of Class 3.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations of GrandAri and allowed “Arianna” to survive.

Fashion Designer Lost Trademark Dispute Over His Name

On July 29, 2020, the Japan IP High Court ruled to dismiss an appeal by Kabushiki Kaisha Soloist, founded by Takahiro Miyashita, a Japanese fashion designer, who contested a decision by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) to deny trademark registration for a compound mark consisting of “TAKAHIROMIYASHITA” and “TheSoloist.” under Article 4(1)(viii) of the Trademark Law.
[Judicial case no. Reiwa2(Gyo-ke)10006]

TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist.

Disputed mark (see below) was filed by Kabushiki Kaisha Soloist, founded by Takahiro Miyashita, on September 21, 2017, covering various fashion items in class 14, 18, and 25. [TM application no. 2017-126259]

In 2010, immediately after starting a company ‘Kabushiki Kaisha Soloist’, Takahiro Miyashita allegedly has launched his new brand “TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist.” and used the disputed mark on clothing, sandals, sunglass, eyewear, accessories designed by him since then and the disputed mark has become famous for his fashion brand. Consequently, relevant consumers and traders would not associate the disputed mark with any individual other than him.

Refusal decision by JPO

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) refused the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(viii) of the Trademark Law, on the ground that the disputed mark contains a full name of private individual named “Takahiro Miyashita”. It is obvious that there are several Japanese people with the same name.

Article 4(1)(viii)

Article 4(1)(viii) of the Trademark Law prohibits registration of trademarks which 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 personal rights of a living individual. Notwithstanding the provision, the article is not applicable where the applicant of the disputed mark produces the written consent of the person.

The Supreme Court of Japan has ruled the article shall be interpreted to protect the personal rights of a living individual. In line with the Supreme Court ruling, Trademark Examination Manuals (TEM) set forth that the article is applicable not only to natural persons (including foreigners) and corporations but also associations without capacity.

On January 29, 2019, the Appeal Board of JPO decided to affirm the examiner’s refusal on the same ground. [Appeal case no. 2019-1138]

To contest the administrative decision, the applicant filed an appeal to the IP High Court.

IP High Court Ruling

The court dismissed the allegation entirely, by stating that:

  1. Even though the disputed mark contains literal elements unrelated to the name of a living person, Article 4(1)(viii) is still applicable since relevant consumers would conceive the literal portions of “TAKAHIROMIYASHITA” as a name of a Japanese person.
  2. It is indisputable that there are several Japanese with the same name as Takahiro Miyashita and some of their names are written in different Chinese characters.
  3. The applicant failed to prove that he obtained consent from them.
  4. Alleged facts that the founder of the applicant has become famous as a fashion designer and because of it, relevant consumers and traders are unlikely to connect the disputed mark with any individual other than the designer would be construed irrelevant in applying Article 4(1)(viii).

Based on the foregoing, the IP High Court sided with the JPO and upheld the refusal decision.

Click here to see the Court’s official ruling (Japanese only)