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General Court: it's a hard dog's life for K-9

In case T- 231/12, Julius-K9 (Hungary) applied for registration of the word mark JULIUS K9 for goods in Classes 18 and 25, including ‘Clothing for animals; harness for animals; dog collars; muzzles, etc’

Rocket Dog Brands LLC (US) brought an opposition based on the two following CTM’s 'K9 dog (fig) also registered in Classes 18 and 25.  

The OHIM, as confirmed by the GC, found that the goods at issue in Classes 18 and 25 were identical. Next, the word ‘julius’ in the trade mark applied for was dominant and that the alphanumeric combination ‘K9’ in it was secondary. Further, the marks were visually dissimilar given the lack of correspondence between their dominant and eye-catching elements and given that their respective structures were completely different. In addition, the marks were phonetically similar to a below average degree since the word ‘julius’ was present in the mark applied for and since the earlier marks contained graphic elements which were not pronounced. Further, the marks were not conceptually similar because there were no features related to dogs in the mark applied for.

Finally, the applicant’s argument that the word ‘K9’ will be understood in the sense of the English word ‘canine’, even if it were proven, cannot lead to the conclusion that the inherently distinctive character of the earlier marks in relation to the products that they referred to would be increased.

Thus, when assessing overall the likelihood of confusion, despite the identical nature of the goods concerned, there was no likelihood of confusion given the visual dissimilarity of the marks at issue, the below average degree of their phonetic similarity, the average distinctiveness of the earlier marks and the normal level of attentiveness of the relevant public.

Posted by: Laetitia Lagarde @ 20.40
Tags: General court, likelihood of confusion, K9, dogs clothes, Julius K9,
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