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Alpine in General Court: don't get confused on your winter holidays

In case T-434/10, the General Court confirmed the likelihood of confusion between the following trademarks for goods in Classes 18 and 25:



Contested CTM                                 Earlier CTM

As regards the comparison of the goods in question, first of all, the ‘umbrellas, umbrella covers and parasols’ covered by the mark applied for have a remote degree of similarity to the ‘bags and luggage’ covered by the earlier mark in so far as they are all travel accessories which are sold in the same outlets or in the same sections and under the same mark. Second, there is a certain degree of similarity between ‘sleeping bags and sleeping sacks’ covered by the mark applied for and ‘backpacks, haversacks and rucksacks’ covered by the earlier mark and, third, there is a low degree of similarity between the ‘sporting articles’ covered by the mark applied for and the ‘skiwear, ski footwear and headgear’ covered by the earlier mark, in so far as they are all necessary for winter sports and therefore display a certain complementary connection and to the extent that they are sold in the same sports shops and may also be sold under the same mark. Furthermore, the ‘clothing, footwear and headgear’ covered by the mark applied for included the ‘skiwear, ski footwear and headgear’ covered by the earlier mark and they are therefore identical.

As regards the comparison of the signs at issue, conceptually, the term ‘alpine’ is present in both marks and has a clear meaning for the English and French public, that is to say, ‘the Alps’ or ‘relating to the Alps’. The term also has quite close equivalents in other languages of the EU, such as the terms ‘alpino/a’ in Italian, ‘alpin’ in German, or ’alpino/a’ in Spanish, it could also be understood by that section of the public. Therefore, for those members of the public who understand the meaning of that term, the signs at issue are conceptually similar, in so far as they have the dominant element ‘alpine’ in common. With regard to the expressions ‘pro’ and ‘sportswear & equipment’ present in the mark applied for, it must be stated that these will be understood at least by the English-speaking public. Nevertheless, those expressions, the former meaning ‘professional’ or ‘favourable, positive, supportive’ and the latter meaning ‘clothing and equipment for sport’, have a widespread use in the trade context in question. In view of that fact. they are therefore not likely to play a decisive role in differentiating between the signs at issue, as the dominant element of both is ‘alpine’.

Thus, the word element ‘alpine’ is the dominant element and it is present in both of the signs at issue; the dissimilarities between them are insufficient to preclude a likelihood of confusion between those signs.

Posted by: Laetitia Lagarde @ 16.00
Tags: General court, likelihood of confusion, alpine,
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