Coca No-la

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The Coca-Cola Company has succeeded in objecting to the registration of a figurative mark by another soft drinks producer.

The application of Intermark Srl, a Romanian cola manufacturer, to register its ‘rienergy Cola’ mark was rejected completely due to the similarity in visual, phonetic, and conceptual aspects of the marks, which were for identical goods.

Given that the likelihood of confusion is to be assessed in light of the overall impression given by a mark, with particular weight being given to dominant and distinctive elements, the inclusion of “rienergy” before the word Cola was not sufficient to distinguish the marks: the “rienergy” text was so small that it was found to be a subsidiary element of the mark; the average consumer of goods would view a mark as a whole and would not concern themselves with the various details of the mark.  The new mark proposed to use one of the two words of the earlier mark, which was deemed to be a brand with a reputation of respect.  Of particular note was that both marks utilised “white cursive script on a red background”.  In light of these points, the Court of Justice of the European Communities upheld the Appeal decision that the application be rejected.

As the unsuccessful party, Intermark was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

The case demonstrates the crucial importance of protecting existing intellectual property – and the costly implication of infringing the rights of others.

Forbes Solicitors regularly assists businesses and individuals with identifying and protecting the intellectual property in brands and wider business interests.  For further advice and assistance, please contact John Pickervance in the Business Law Department by telephone on 0800 689 3206 or via our Contact Form.

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