MK Michael Kors - cancellation similar trademark

Companies sometimes think they are safe once their trademark is registered and that possible older similar marks can then no longer be a problem. This is not correct. Sometimes a company does not know that a similar mark is registered and only commences an action when confronted with it. Even then, all rights can be asserted. This used to be possible only through the courts, now it is also possible in a simple cancellation procedure with the trademark authorities.

 

Michael Kors starts a cancellation against the Union trademark logo MK. The logo consists of the white capital letters MK, positioned large and centrally in a circle with black background. At the bottom it states ‘marktomi marktomi’ in small letters. Michael Kors has a similar logo, with black letters in a circle with a white background and at the bottom the words Michael Kors. The words at the bottom are clearly different and is this sufficient?

No, the Court rules. The letters MK are substantial. They are in the middle of a white/black circle. The letters are the eye-catcher and thus the dominant part. Visually, the marks are similar. Phonetically too, as most will pronounce the marks as MK. The differences between the words at the bottom are too little to neutralize this. The mark will be cancelled.

Avoid this kind of problem by researching the availability of a trademark beforehand.

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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?