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Ikea's appeal rejected at a glance

In case T-88/10, the General Court confirmed likelihood of confusion between the applied for mark GLÄNSA and earlier Community trademark GLANZ for partially identical, partially similar goods in Class 11.

The signs at issue are composed respectively of five and six letters and have the same root ‘glan/glän’, even though the ‘a’ in the mark applied for is marked by an umlaut. Inter IKEA Systems’ argument that consumers in certain Member States of the European Union would pronounce the letter ‘ä’ like the letter ‘e’, and so create a distinction, was rejected. Indeed, in part of the European Union, notably as regards English-, French- and Spanish-speakers, where the effect of the umlaut over the third letter of the mark applied for will not alter the overall phonetic impression produced by the mark on the average consumer, since the languages in question do not have the letter ‘ä’.

Therefore, the difference by their endings: ‘z’ in the case of the earlier mark and ‘sa’ in the mark applied for, is not sufficient to brush aside the visual and phonetic similarities of the signs.

The argument put forward by Inter IKEA Systems that the earlier mark has a weak distinctive character because it would be understood as meaning ‘gloss, lustre, radiance, brilliance, etc’ does not weaken that conclusion- which even if proved- would concern only the German-speaking part of the European Union.

Posted by: Laetitia Lagarde @ 18.10
Tags: general court, likelihood of confusion,
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