Trademark dispute: MARNI vs. MARNO

The Italian fashion brand “MARNI” lost the trademark opposition against TM Reg no. 6658657 for the wordmark “MARNO” (cl. 14,18,25). The Japan Patent Office (JPO) found both marks dissimilar and less likelihood of confusion because there was insufficient evidence to support a certain degree of recognition of the mark “MARNI” among general consumers.
[Opposition case no. 2023-900065, decided on May 16, 2024]


“MARNO”

Godo Kaisha MARNO filed a trademark application for the word mark “MARNO” in standard character for use on goods “precious metals; jewelry; key rings; jewelry boxes; personal ornaments; clocks and watches” in class 14, “bags and pouches; umbrellas; canes; clothing for pets” in class 18, “clothing; belts; footwear; masquerade costumes; sports shoes; sportswear” in class 25 with the JPO on July 29, 2022 (TM App no. 2022-88022).

Apparently, the applicant promotes apparels for lady using the mark on their website.

The JPO examiner did not issue an office action to the application and granted protection on December 13, 2024. Subsequently, the mark was published for post-grant opposition on January 13, 2023.


Opposition by MARNI

Marni Group S.r.l., an Italian luxury fashion house, filed an opposition on March 13, 2023 just before the lapse of a two-month statutory period and claimed the opposed mark “MARNO” shall be cancelled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations (TM Reg no. 4842090, 4791866, 4786424, 3200522, 2339221, 6676890, IR1007074, IR1520528, IR1689338, IR698847) for the mark “MARNI”.

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

MARNI contended that the opposed mark “MARNO” is similar to its own trademark “MARNI,” a globally renowned fast-fashion brand given a mere difference in the last letter “O” and “I”. Besides, the goods in question are identical or similar.

Article 4(1)(xv) prohibits the registration of trademarks that are likely to cause confusion with the business of other entities.

MARNI contended that the mark “MARNI” has become renowned among relevant consumers in connection with apparel. Given the high degree of resemblance between “MARNO” and “MARNI” as well as the goods, it is likely that consumers will confuse or misconceive the goods bearing the opposed mark “MARNO” with “MARNI.”

Article 4(1)(xix) proscribes the registration of a trademark that is identical with or similar to another entity’s famous mark if the trademark is intended for the purpose of gaining unfair profits or causing damage to the entity.

MARNI contended that the applicant had filed the opposed mark with the intention of obtaining unfair profits through free-riding on the well-known trademark “MARNI”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted that the mark “MARNI” has been recognized among consumers who has high interest to fashion to some extent from the produced evidence, however, in view of the facts that the dates of the evidence are after the grant of protection of the opposed mark, the period and evaluation method of the brand ranking is unclear, and no evidence regarding the sales amount and advertisement of the goods bearing the mark MARNI are provided, the Board questioned whether the mark “MARNI” has been widely recognized among general consumers to indicate the source of MARNI’s goods and business.

Next, the Board assessed similarity of mark. In appearance and sound between “MARNO” and “MARNI”, the distinction of “O” and “I” at the end of the word has a significant impact on the overall visual and oral impression of the two marks, which both have only five letters and three sounds. Therefore, the marks are visually and phonetically distinguishable. Since both marks do not give rise to any specific meaning, it is impossible to compare the concept of the two marks. Accordingly, the Board has reason to believe that both marks are significantly dissimilar.

By taking account of insufficient recognition of the mark “MARNI” among relevant consumers and a low degree of similarity between two marks, it is unlikely that the consumer at the sight of the goods in question bearing the opposed mark confuse the source with MARNI.

Besides, the evidence presented to the Board does not provide grounds to believe that the applicant intended to obtain profits through the exploitation of the well-known trademark.

Based on the foregoing, the Board dismissed the opposition entirely.

Failed Trademark Opposition over VW TYPE-2

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) did not side with Volkswagen AG in an opposition against TM Reg no. 6365340 for device mark containing a depiction of a van-type red car by finding unlikelihood of confusion with Volkswagen Type-2.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900210, decided on September 14, 2023]

Opposed mark

Sur Andino SA, a Chilean wine grower and producer, filed a trademark application for device mark containing a depiction of a van-type red car (see below) to be used on wines in class 33 with the JPO on February 5, 2020.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed mark on March 9, 2021 and published is for a post-grant opposition on April 6, 2021.


Opposition by Volkswagen

On June 7, 2021, just before the lapse of a two-month statutory period counting from the publication date, Volkswagen AG filed an opposition and claimed the opposed mark shall be cancelled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Volkswagen argued a van-type red car depicted in the opposed mark resembles the VW Type 2 vehicles, aka Transporter, Bulli, Kombi, VW Bus that have been distributed worldwide for past six decades and a unique shape of the vehicles has played a significant role in identifying the origin of car. Because of it, the applicant must have had a bad faith to free-ride or dilute fame and prestige of the VW Type 2. Relevant consumers are likely to confuse a source of wines bearing the opposed mark with VW.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board questioned whether the shape of the VW Type 2 per se has played a role in indicating the source from the produced evidence.

Given there is insufficient evidence to connect a van-type red car in the opposed mark with the VW Type 2, the Board found no reason to believe the applicant had a bad faith to free-ride or dilute prestige of the VW Type 2 by using the opposed mark on wines. If so, it is unlikely that relevant consumers confuse a source of wines bearing the opposed mark with Volkswagen.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided the opposed mark shall not be canceled based on Article 4(1)(vii), (xv) and (xix), and thus dismissed entire allegations by Volkswagen.

JPO Declared Cancellation of Trademark “BORDEAUX WAVE” on Cosmetics

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) decided to cancel TM Reg no. 6576001 for word mark “BORDEAUX WAVE” in relation to cosmetics due to contrary to public policy and accepted principles of morality.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900374, decided on September 1, 2023]

Opposed mark “BORDEAUX WAVE”

KAO Corporation, a major Japanese company providing a broad range of household products such as cosmetics and detergents, filed a trademark application for the wordmark “BORDEAUX WAVE” with its transliteration written in Japanese Katakana character (see below) for use on soaps and detergents, cosmetics, perfume and flavor materials, incense in class 3 with the JPO on December 22, 2021.

Apparently, the mark is used as a name for one of the RMK lipstick colors distributed by KAO’s subsidiary company.

The JPO examiner did not raise any objection to the “BORDEAUX WAVE” mark and granted protection on June 2, 2022.


Trademark Opposition

On August 31, 2022, before the lapse of a two-month statutory period counting from the publication date, INSTITUT NATIONAL DE L’ORIGINE ET DE LAQUALITE and CONSEIL INTERPROFESSIONNEL DUVIN DE BORDEAUX as joint opponents filed an opposition against the BORDEAUX WAVE mark and claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law.

The opponents argued that the opposed mark misleads as to the origin of the goods in question on which it is used since the GI “Bordeaux” has been widely known for an origin of French Wine. Besides, the opposed mark severely harms to fame and aura of prestigious wine constituted under the strict control of domicile of origin.


Article 4(1)(vii)

Article 4(1)(vii) prohibits any mark likely to offend public order and morals from registering.

Trademark Examination Guidelines sets forth criteria for the article and samples.

  1. Trademarks that are “likely to cause damage to public order or morality” are, for example, the trademarks that fall under the cases prescribed in (1) to (5) below.

(1) Trademarks which are, in composition per se, characters or figures, signs, three-dimensional shapes or colors or any combination thereof, or sounds that are unethical, obscene, discriminative, outrageous, or unpleasant to people. It is judged whether characters, figures, signs, three-dimensional shapes or colors or any combination thereof, or sounds are unethical, discriminative or unpleasant to people, with consideration given to their historical backgrounds, social impacts, etc. from a comprehensive viewpoint.

(2) Trademarks which do not have the composition per se as prescribed in (1) above but are liable to conflict with the public interests of the society or contravene the generally-accepted sense of morality if used for the designated goods or designated services.

(3) Trademarks with their use prohibited by other laws.

(4) Trademarks liable to dishonor a specific country or its people or trademarks generally considered contrary to the international faith.

(5) Trademarks whose registration is contrary to the order predetermined under the Trademark Act and is utterly unacceptable for lack of social reasonableness in the background to the filing of an application for trademark registration.

  1. Examples that fall under this item

(i) Trademarks that contain characters such as “university” and are likely to be mistaken for the name of universities, etc. under the School Education Act.

(ii) Trademarks that contain characters such as “士(shi” which are likely to mislead that they represent national qualifications.

(iii) Trademarks of the name of a well-known or famous historical personage which are determined to have the risk of taking a free ride on public measures related to that personage and damage the public interests by inhibiting the performance of such measures.

(iv) Trademarks with figures indicated in a manner that may impair the dignity and honor of national flags (including foreign national flags)

(v) A sound mark related to the services of “medical treatment” which causes people to recognize siren sounds generated by ambulances that are well known in Japan.

(vi) A sound mark which causes people to recognize national anthems of Japan and other countries.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board found in favor of opponents that “BORDEAUX” has acquired a high degree of popularity and reputation among Japanese consumers as a source indicator of wines originated from the Bordeaux district.

Since the opposed mark contains the term “BORDEAUX”, it is undeniable that consumers are likely to connect the opposed mark with BORDEAUX wine or its district even when used on cosmetics and other goods in question. If so, the Board has a reason to believe that the opposed mark free-rides or dilutes lure and image of BORDEAUX wine, and adversely affects domicile of origin strictly controlled by French government. Thus, inevitably the opposed mark may cause disorder to a world of global commerce in a manner inconsistent with international fidelity.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided to cancel the BORDEAUX WAVE mark entirely based on Article 4(1)(vii).

Tragic End of Trademark Challenge for Louboutin

In a series of Louboutin’s legal challenge to claim exclusive right over red soles, the Japan IP High Court, on the heels of the dismissal of Louboutin’s infringement claim on December 26, 2022, affirmed the JPO rejection to TM Application no. 2015-29921 for a red colored mark in sole and ruled Louboutin’s red soles shall be unregistrable under the Trademark Law on January 30, 2023.

[Court case no. Reiwa 4(Gyo-ke)10089]

Louboutin’s Red Soles

Fast on the heels of the introduction to register color marks in Japan, Christian Louboutin filed a trademark application for a color mark consisting of a red (Pantone 18-1663TP) colored in soles (see below) for use on high heels in class 25 on April 1, 2015 (TM App no. 2015-29921).


JPO Rejection

The JPO Appeal Board found the color mark perse lacks distinctiveness in relation to the goods in question by taking into account the fact that a lot of shoes with red-colored soles have been distributed by other shoemakers in Japan.

Besides, under the current trade practice, the Board considered it will inevitably cause a severe disorder and excessive restriction to competitors if it allows registration of a red color that has been freely used in the relevant industry to enhance the aesthetic appearance of shoes. Based on the foregoing, the JPO concluded the color mark shall not be registrable under Article 3(2) as well.

Louboutin brought the case to the IP High Court and appealed to cancel the JPO decision.


IP High Court decision

In the decision, the IP High Court expressed a view that a trademark consisting of a single color shall not be registrable unless it has acquired an extremely high degree of recognition to indicate a specific source as a result of substantial use to the extent that exclusive use of the color would not cause detrimental effect to the public in general.

In this respect, the court affirmed the JPO findings that a lot of heels with red-colored soles have been distributed by other shoemakers in Japan for years and negated the inherent distinctiveness of the red-colored mark.

In the assessment of acquired distinctiveness, the court found the survey that demonstrated 51.6% of the interviewees (3,149 females, aged from 20 to 50) having a domicile in three big cities (Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya) was insufficient to find acquired distinctiveness of the red soles among relevant consumers, assuming that the percentage would become lower if the survey targets more females residing in other cities nationwide.

Even if Louboutin’s red soles have become famous among consumers who have a high interest in luxury brands, the Court has no reason to believe that the red colored mark has acquired an extremely high degree of recognition as a source indicator to the extent that general public would tolerate its exclusive use on soles.

Based on the foregoing, the IP High Court affirmed the JPO decision and dismissed entire allegations by Louboutin.


Consequently, Louboutin’s legal challenge was decisively blown off by two IP High Court rulings unless the Supreme Court holds out its hand on Louboutin.

BOND GIRL Score Win in Trademark Dispute

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) declared invalidation of TM Reg no. 6267785 for “BOND GIRL” with a “BG” device mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law.

[Invalidation case no. 2022-890013, decided on November 18, 2022]

Disputed mark

A disputed mark, consisting of the stylized word “BOND GIRL” and “BG” logo (see below), was filed with JPO for use on scissors, swords, hand tools, spoons, and forks in class 8 by a Japanese business entity on September 4, 2019, and registered on July 9, 2020.

Apparently, the applicant has used the disputed mark on multi-tools. Click here.


Invalidation petition by Danjaq, LLC

On March 1, 2022, Danjaq, LLC, the holding company responsible for the copyright and trademarks to the characters, elements, and other material related to James Bond on screen, filed a petition for invalidation and argued disputed mark shall be invalid in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing world-famous cinematic heroine “BOND GIRL” in the James Bond film series “007”.

Article 4(1)(vii)

Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law prohibits any mark likely to cause damage to public order or morality from registration.

In the petition, Danjaq argued “BOND GIRL” has appeared as a love interest of James Bond in the movies for over 55 years since 1962. Due to frequent appearances in magazines, other public media, and various events pertinent to the Japes Bond movie, the name and sign of “BOND GIRL” has been well-known as a cinematic heroine in association with the film series “007”.

If so, it is presumed that the applicant intentionally applied the disputed mark with the aim to monopolize the term. Since the applicant does not have any legal interest with Danjaq, a legitimate owner of trademarks and copyrights pertaining to the 007 movies, it must impermissibly cause not only damage to public order but the disorder in domestic and foreign trade.


JPO decision

The Invalidation Board found, from the produced evidence, the cinematic heroine “Bond girl” has regularly attracted audiences through screens, magazines, and promotional events of the James Bond “007” movie. The sign “BONG GIRL” had further extensive marketing and licensing to companies in vastly different product categories, not only with products associated with motion pictures, e.g. nails, cosmetics, dolls, cards, calendars, and others. Relevant consumers at the sight of the disputed mark would conceive nothing but the cinematic heroine in the film. The Board, therefore, considered that “BOND GIRL” has become worldly famous as a cinematic heroine that appeared in the “007” film series.

The Board continued in analyzing efforts made by Danjaq to enhance the commercial value of “BOND GIRL” by means of trademark registrations in various jurisdictions and licensing to different product categories.

The Board paid attention that the applicant has referred to the James Bond films and the cinematic heroin “Bond girl” in advertisements to promote the BG multi-tools.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found it is impermissible for the applicant, unrelated to Danjaq, to monopolize the term on goods in question and decided to retroactively invalidate the disputed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) for the purpose of preventing damage to public order.

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.

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.

Olympic Lose Trademark Race with Olimple

In a trademark opposition disputing the similarity and the likelihood of confusion between “Olympic” and “Olimple”, the JPO did not side with the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

[Opposition case no. 2021-900173]


Olimple

The opposed mark, consisting of the term “Olimple” written in the alphabet and the Japanese katakana character (see below), was applied with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) on January 28, 2020, for use on facial skin care gel, cosmetics, soaps, and other goods in class 3 by Olimple Co., Ltd.

The JPO granted protection on February 2, 2021, and published for opposition on March 9, 2021.

The applicant promotes medicated skin care gel for men bearing the Olimple mark.

Image credit: olimple.jp

Opposition by IOC

Opponent, IOC claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vi), (vii), (xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier International Registration no. 1128501 for wordmark “OLYMPIC” covering various goods and services in class 3 and other classes.

IOC argued a close resemblance between “OLYMPIC” and “Olimple” by stating:

  1. Both marks share four of the seven letters. Besides, the two letters at the end of the word, “le” and “IC” looks similar.
  2. The third letters “I” and “Y” of both marks are pronounced as “li” accompanied by the second letter “L”.
  3. Being that consumers are accustomed to several terms with a prefix of “OLYMP”, e.g., “OLYMPISM”, “OLYMPIAN” in connection with “OLYMPIC”, they will see the literal element “Olimp” as a dominant portion of the opposed mark.
  4. If so, relevant consumers are likely to confuse the opposed mark with “OLYMPIC” when used on goods in question.

JPO decision

The JPO did not question the famousness of the OLYMPIC mark as a source indicator of the IOC. However, the Opposition Board negated the similarity between “Olimple” and “OLYMPIC” on the following grounds.

  1. The term “Olimple” shall be deemed as a coined word because it is not a word that appeared in a language dictionary and does not give rise to any specific meaning in relation to the goods in question.
  2. There is a remarkable difference in the presence or absence of Japanese katakana characters. In addition to the difference between upper- and lower-case letters after the second letter, there are distinctions in the third letter “i” and “Y”, the sixth letter “l” and “I”, and the letters “e” and “C” at the end. In the configuration of the relatively short seven-letter alphabet, both marks are sufficiently distinguishable by appearance.
  3. Phonetically, both marks are unlikely to cause confusion as a whole because of a clear difference in the fourth and fifth sounds.
  4. It is obvious that both marks are dissimilar in concept.

The Board did not find a reason to believe relevant consumers would misconceive the source of the opposed mark merely because of close attention to the literal portion of “OLYMP” and “Olimp”, and its similarity.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations and decided on July 13, 2022, that the opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.

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.

Adidas Unsuccessful in Opposition over BOOST mark

On May 18, 2022, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Adidas AG against Trademark Reg no. 6383132 for the wordmark “G-BOOST” by finding dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with Adidas “BOOST”.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900273]

G-BOOST

UNI WORLD Co., Ltd. filed wordmark “G-BOOST” in standard character for use on ‘gloves for protection against accidents; clothing for protection against accidents; protective industrial shoes; dust masks’ in class 9 and ‘clothing; footwear; gloves; thermal gloves; sports shoes; sportswear; socks’ in class 25 on March 30, 2020.

The applicant promotes worker gloves bearing the mark “G-BOOST.”

The JPO granted protection of the mark on March 30, 2021, and published for opposition on May 25, 2021.


Opposition by Adidas

On July 14, 2021, Adidas AG filed an opposition and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (x), (xi), and 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law due to a conflict with earlier trademark registrations pertinent to Adidas BOOST shoes, namely, TM Reg nos. 5212257 “BOOST” and 5941352 “ULTRABOOST” on shoes and sports shoes in class 25.

Allegedly, Adidas introduced Boost in 2013 as its revolutionary cushioning system, which provided the highest energy return in any running sneaker. The technology was designed to provide runners with soft cushioning and long-lasting energy that more rigid sneakers couldn’t.

Adidas argued the opposed mark “G-BOOST” is confusingly similar to “BOOST” because the term “BOOST” shall be a prominent portion of the opposed mark given an alphabetical letter “G” perse lacks distinctiveness in relation to the goods in question. Besides, “BOOST” has become famous as a source indicator of Adidas in relation to running shoes. If so, relevant consumers are likely to confuse the source of goods bearing the opposed mark with Adidas.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not admit a certain degree of reputation and popularity of the BOOST mark as a source indicator of Adidas running shoes among relevant consumers in Japan by stating that the opponent failed to produce sufficient evidence to disclose sales figures, market share, and advertising expenditures, media space and time of the goods bearing the BOOST mark even though the opponent produced evidence to demonstrate marketing campaign for the BOOST shoes in Japan.

In addition, the Board compared “G-BOOST” with “BOOST” as a whole and negated the similarity of the marks because of a clear distinction in appearance and sound.

Given the low degree of similarity of the mark and unproved famousness of the opponent mark, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of the goods bearing the opposed mark with Adidas.

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