OPPOSITION No B 2 506 171
Câmara Municipal da Povoação, Largo do Município, 1, 9650-411 Povoação, Portugal (opponent), represented by J. Pereira da Cruz, S.A. Rua Victor Cordon, 14, 1249-103 Lisboa, Portugal (professional representative)
a g a i n s t
Foam Comforts (International) Limited, 1201 Dominion Centre, 43-59 Queen's Road East, Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (applicant), represented by Mathys & Squire LLP, Abbey House 32 Booth Street, Manchester M2 AB, United Kingdom (professional representative).
On 29/07/2016, the Opposition Division takes the following
2. The opponent bears the costs, fixed at EUR 300.
opponent filed an opposition against all the services of European
Union trade mark application No
In its observations of 21/04/2015, the opponent also makes reference to Article 8(1)(b) CTMR.
However, the grounds on which an opposition is based can only be invoked during the three-month opposition period, which ended on 09/04/2015.
Therefore, the opposition has to be rejected as inadmissible insofar as it is based on Article 8(1)(b) CTMR.
REPUTATION – ARTICLE 8(5) EUTMR
According to Article 8(5) EUTMR, upon opposition by the proprietor of a registered earlier trade mark within the meaning of Article 8(2) EUTMR, the contested trade mark shall not be registered where it is identical with, or similar to, an earlier trade mark, irrespective of whether the goods or services for which it is applied are identical with, similar to or not similar to those for which the earlier trade mark is registered, where, in the case of an earlier European Union trade mark, the trade mark has a reputation in the Union or, in the case of an earlier national trade mark, the trade mark has a reputation in the Member State concerned and where the use without due cause of the contested trade mark would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trade mark.
Therefore, the grounds of refusal of Article 8(5) EUTMR are only applicable when the following conditions are met.
The signs must be either identical or similar.
The opponent’s trade mark must have a reputation. The reputation must also be prior to the filing of the contested trade mark; it must exist in the territory concerned and for the goods and/or services on which the opposition is based.
Risk of injury: the use of the contested trade mark would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark.
The abovementioned requirements are cumulative and, therefore, the absence of any one of them will lead to the rejection of the opposition under Article 8(5) EUTMR (16/12/2010, T‑345/08, & T‑357/08, Botolist / Botocyl, EU:T:2010:529, § 41). However, the fulfilment of all the abovementioned conditions may not be sufficient. The opposition may still fail if the applicant establishes due cause for the use of the contested trade mark.
Risk of injury
Use of the contested mark will fall under Article 8(5) EUTMR when any of the following situations arise:
it takes unfair advantage of the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier mark;
it is detrimental to the repute of the earlier mark;
it is detrimental to the distinctive character of the earlier mark.
Although detriment or unfair advantage may be only potential in opposition proceedings, a mere possibility is not sufficient for Article 8(5) EUTMR to be applicable. While the proprietor of the earlier mark is not required to demonstrate actual and present harm to its mark, it must ‘adduce prima facie evidence of a future risk, which is not hypothetical, of unfair advantage or detriment’ (06/06/2012, T‑60/10, Royal Shakespeare, EU:T:2012:348, § 53).
It follows that the opponent must establish that detriment or unfair advantage is probable, in the sense that it is foreseeable in the ordinary course of events. For that purpose, the opponent should file evidence, or at least put forward a coherent line of argument demonstrating what the detriment or unfair advantage would consist of and how it would occur, that could lead to the prima facie conclusion that such an event is indeed likely in the ordinary course of events.
In the present case, apart from claiming a reputation and arguing that the signs are similar and that there exists a likelihood of confusion, the opponent did not submit any facts, arguments or evidence that could support the conclusion that use of the contested trade mark would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark.
Article 8(5) EUTMR is not intended to prevent the registration of all marks identical or similar to a mark with reputation. According to established case-law, ‘once the condition as to the existence of reputation is fulfilled, the examination has to proceed with the condition that the earlier mark must be detrimentally affected without due cause’ (14/09/1999, C‑375/97, Chevy, EU:C:1999:408, § 30).
Even though consumers may or are likely to establish a link between the two trade marks, in the sense, for example, that the contested trade mark would bring the earlier trade mark to the minds of consumers, it does not follow automatically that the former will take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark (27/11/2008, C‑252/07, Intel, EU:C:2008:655, § 71).
As mentioned above, the opponent should have submitted evidence, or at least put forward a coherent line of argument demonstrating what the detriment or unfair advantage would consist of and how it would occur, that could lead to the prima facie conclusion that such an event is indeed likely in the ordinary course of events.
This is confirmed by Rule 19(2)(c) EUTMIR, which establishes that if the opposition is based on a mark with a reputation within the meaning of Article 8(5) EUTMR, the opponent must submit evidence showing that the mark has a reputation, as well as evidence or arguments demonstrating that use without due cause of the contested trade mark would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark.
In the present case, the opponent merely quotes the relevant wording of the Regulation concerning the detriment or unfair advantage. The circumstances described as being ‘detrimental to the repute’, ‘detrimental to the distinctive character’, or taking ‘unfair advantage of the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark’, are in fact very different from each other. In its submissions, the opponent refers to them without any distinction, treating the whole as an unavoidable effect of the similarity of the signs and the alleged reputation of the earlier trade mark. However, there seems to be no good reason to assume that use of the contested trade mark will result in any such events occurring. Although potential detriment or unfair advantage cannot be completely excluded, this is insufficient, as seen above.
According to Article 76(1) EUTMR, the Office will examine the facts of its own motion in proceedings before it; however, in proceedings relating to relative grounds for refusal of registration, the Office restricts its examination to the facts, evidence and arguments submitted by the parties and the relief sought.
Given that the opponent could not establish that the contested sign would take unfair advantage of, or be detrimental to the distinctive character or repute of the earlier trade mark, the opposition is considered not well founded under Article 8(5) EUTMR.
Consequently, it is unnecessary to compare the signs at issue and to evaluate whether the evidence filed by the opponent on 21/04/2015 proves use or reputation of the earlier right.
According to Article 85(1) EUTMR, the losing party in opposition proceedings must bear the fees and costs incurred by the other party.
Since the opponent is the losing party, it must bear the costs incurred by the applicant in the course of these proceedings.
According to Rule 94(3) and Rule 94(7)(d)(ii) EUTMIR, the costs to be paid to the applicant are the costs of representation which are to be fixed on the basis of the maximum rate set therein.
The Opposition Division
According to Article 59 EUTMR, any party adversely affected by this decision has a right to appeal against this decision. According to Article 60 EUTMR, notice of appeal must be filed in writing at the Office within two months of the date of notification of this decision. It must be filed in the language of the proceedings in which the decision subject to appeal was taken. Furthermore, a written statement of the grounds of appeal must be filed within four months of the same date. The notice of appeal will be deemed to be filed only when the appeal fee of EUR 720 has been paid.
The amount determined in the fixation of the costs may only be reviewed by a decision of the Opposition Division on request. According to Rule 94(4) EUTMIR, such a request must be filed within one month from the date of notification of this fixation of costs and shall be deemed to be filed only when the review fee of EUR 100 (Annex I A(33) EUTMR) has been paid.