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General Court: SEIKOH v. SEIKO

In Case T-519/10, the applicant, Kabushiki Kaisha Seikoh Giken is the holder of the following international registration registered for goods in Classes 3, 7 and 9:

The opponent Seiko Holdings Kabushiki Kaisha filed a notice of opposition to the application for territorial extension for the EU on the basis of ealier word mark SEIKO registered for goods and services in Classes1 to 42.

The Opposition Division upheld the opposition which was confirmed by the Board of Appeal. The relevant public consists of average consumers in all the Members States. In the light of the identity of the goods covered by the marks at issue and the similarity, albeit to a low degree, between those marks, there is a likelihood of confusion on the part of the relevant public, which could be led to believe that the figurative mark SG SEIKOH GIKEN is a variant of the earlier mark SEIKO.

The General Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the contested decision. From a visual point of view, there are several differences between the signs at issue. Firstly, the word element ‘seikoh’ of the figurative mark ends in the letter ‘h’, unlike the single word element ‘seiko’ of the earlier mark. Secondly, unlike the earlier mark which is composed of a single word element, the figurative mark is composed of three separate elements: a figurative circular element containing the letters ‘s’ and ‘g’, followed by two word elements ‘seikoh’ and ‘giken’. Thirdly, the figurative mark is blue. Fourthly, the signs at issue are different in length, in that the figurative mark has 13 letters while the earlier mark consists of one word of five letters.

Phonetically speaking, the pronunciation of the figurative mark in its entirety is longer as it contains, unlike the earlier mark, the letters ‘SG’ placed before the element ‘seikoh’, which is followed by the element ‘giken’. However, on account of the identical pronunciation of the elements ‘seiko’ and ‘seikoh’ in several languages of the EU, there is some aural similarity, albeit weak, between the two signs taken as a whole.

From a conceptual point of view either of the signs has a clear and specific meaning. The applicant itself states in its application that the signs at issue have ‘no meaning in the languages of the EU’. Therefore, there was no need to compare the signs at issue on a conceptual level.

Therefore, the Board of Appeal did not err in finding that there was a likelihood of confusion within the meaning of Article8(1)(b) of CTMR.

Posted by: Laetitia Lagarde @ 11.22
Tags: general court, likelihood of confusion, seikoh, seiko,
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MARQUES does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this blog. The views are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of MARQUES. Seek professional advice before action on any information included here.

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