On 26th September, The European Union General Court nullified a decision passed earlier by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) against Puma, the Germany-based Sports footwear and apparel multinational company.
In April 2013, Puma had opposed the figurative sign ‘Puma’ registered by Doosan Machine Tools based on two of Puma’s figurative trademarks related to clothing and sports equipment ( one of which consisted of class 7 as well).
In March 2015 the EUIPO’s Opposition board rejected the opposition stating that Puma’s marks and the applied-for-mark had no similarity, rejecting Puma’s arguments that Puma’s earlier marks had a reputation.
Even though EUIPO’s Fourth Board of Appeal agreed about the similarity between the marks, still it rejected Puma’s appeal stating that the relevant public would not establish a link between the two companies.
In the recent suit filed at European General Court, Puma accused the board of not taking into account the reputation of Puma’ earlier marks and blamed the board for its erred judgement of finding Puma’s earlier marks of a weak inherent distinctive character.
In General Court’s decision given on 26th September , it was held that the board didn’t properly assess the strength of reputation of Puma’s earlier registered marks, which is really important in deciding whether the link between the marks will confuse the public or not.
The Court acknowledged that a connection could be established between the marks considering the high degree of similarity. Hence, the court ordered the board to re-examine Puma’s arguments based on an existence of a link between the marks of the two companies. The court further ordered EUIPO to pay its own costs along with the costs incurred by Puma.