The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by the U.S. tech giant, Apple Inc. against trademark registration no. 6370191 for a word mark “MACLOGIC” due to dissimilarity to and less popularity of the “Mac” mark among general consumers as a source indicator of Apple’s personal computers.[Opposition case no. 2021-900239, Gazette issued date: June 24, 2022]
The opposed mark, consisting of the word “Maclogic” in standard character, was filed in the name of MACLOGIC Co., Ltd., a Japanese company providing EC consulting services and SNS marketing.
The mark was filed with the JPO on December 24, 2020, and admitted registration on March 9, 2021, over computer programs in class 9 and computer software design, computer programming, or maintenance of computer software, providing computer programs on data networks in class 42.
Opposition by Apple Inc.
On June 21, 2021, Apple Inc. filed an opposition to “Maclogic” and contended that the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(x) 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 mark that has acquired a certain degree of recognition among relevant consumers.
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 brand owners and users.
Apple Inc. argued that the mark “Mac” has been famous as a source indicator of the opponent in relation to personal computers and their operating system. Being that relevant consumers consider the opposed mark as a composite mark composed of “Mac” and logic”, the term “Mac” per se shall be a prominent portion of the opposed mark.
If so, it is likely that relevant consumers confuse or misconceive the source of the opposed goods with Apple or any business entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent due to the high popularity of Apple’s “Mac” computers and the close resemblance between “Maclogic” and “Mac”.
The Opposition Board found the “Mac” mark has acquired a certain degree of recognition among relevant consumers and trades in relation to personal computers and its operating system. However, to my surprise, the Board questioned if the mark has acquired a similar degree of popularity among general consumers.
Given the opponent mark has not been famous among general consumers, the Board found the opposed mark “Maclogic” in its entirety is dissimilar to the opponent mark “Mac” from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view.
Taking into consideration a low degree of similarity between the marks and popularity of Apple’s “Mac” mark, the Board had no reason to believe that consumers would mistakenly assume the opposed goods originate from the same source as or are associated with, the opponent when used on goods in question.
Based on the foregoing, the Board decided Apple’s opposition was groundless and dismissed the entire allegations.