In its decision S2007/386 of February 19, 2010 the Finnish Supreme Court upheld the decision of Court of Appeal in the dispute between two dairy industry companies Valio Oy and Arla Ingman Oy Ab. The dispute was initiated by Valio Oy, which claimed that Ingman Oy’s use of its registered mark INGMARIINI for similar goods in class 29 i.e. margarines, infringed Valio’s rights to the earlier registered trademarks VOIMARIINI, MARIINI and OIVARIINI. Additionally, Valio Oy argued that the marks VOIMARIINI and OIVARIINI should be considered marks with reputation in Finland.
In response to the question regarding the reputation of appellant´s marks, the Supreme Court confirmed the opinion of lower courts; both VOIMARIINI and OIVARIINI had the status of a mark with reputation.
While considering the similarities between the marks and goods covered by the registrations, the Court did not find any likelihood of confusion between the marks even though the goods concerned were similar. The conclusion of comparison of the signs was that there was some degree of similarity as the marks shared the ending –MARIINI/-RIINI. However, this part of the words was considered to be less distinctive as it referred to the Finnish word “margariini” (margarine) which describe the goods. The Court stated that the beginnings of the marks differed a lot from each and as a whole the marks were dissimilar.
An interesting detail in the reasoning of the Supreme Court was that it mentioned that the average Finnish consumer would recognize both companies as being important producers of margarines and other dairy products and therefore they would not confuse the marks of these manufacturers with each other.