Witte wieven are witches - conceptual similar trademarks

Trademarks may not be confusingly similar. The trademarks are being compared in order to decide if this is the case. The judge compares the trademarks visually, phonetically and conceptually. However, is one of these criteria sufficient to obstruct another trademark. This is the central question in the ‘Witte Wieven’ cheese case.

Heks’nkaas (literally translated: witches cheese) is very popular in the Netherlands and is registered as a trademark for cheese, cheese based sauces and spices. When the trademark Witte Wievenkaas is being applied for to distinguish cheese smears Heks’nkaas opposes.

In first instance the complaint is denied, but the court decides differently. According to the court, witches are female and magical creatures that frighten and usually live isolated. They possess magical powers, which are used for evil purposes. Witte Wieven (women with white hair) are witches as well, according to the court, so conceptually the trademarks are strongly similar. Therefore the trademark Witte Wieven is cancelled from the register. A pity tough, that the court has not taken into account the fact that Heks’nkaas is a well known trademark. The decision would have made a lot more sence.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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