The Latvian Board of Appeal acknowledges a conceptual similarity between the famous "Belvedere vodka" mark and the contested mark "ICE PALACE"
On 25 June, 2020 the Board of Appeal of Industrial Property examined the opposition filed in the name of the Polish company POLMOS ZYRARDOW SPOLKA Z OGRANICZONA OPOWIEDZIALNOSCIA (LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group) against the Latvian trademark registration No. M 74 148 “ICE PALACE”. The opposition was filed against the goods in class 33 – “alcoholic beverages (except beer)”. The owner of the contested mark is the Latvian company Vesper Group SIA.
Throughout this opposition matter the trademark attorney Gunta Zariņa represented the opponent POLMOS. The opposition was based on various POLMOS’ earlier trademarks “Belvedere” (No. EUTM 010250017), (No. EUTM 010706018), (No. EUTM 003854213), (No. WO 640 467) and the graphic mark endowed with reputation in the EU (No. EUTM 009588864).
(No. EUTM 009588864)
(reg. No. M 73 317)
The opposition was based on likelihood of confusion between the visually and conceptually similar marks covering identical goods in class 33. Also the opponent asserted that the contested mark is capable of taking unfair advantage and causing detriment to the repute of the earlier trade mark.
After reviewing the arguments and reputation evidence in this opposition case, the Board of Appeal supported the opponent’s arguments and came to the following conclusions:
- The earlier trademark (the graphic mark picturing a palace surrounded by tree branches) is endowed with reputation in the EU with respect of goods in class 33 – “alcoholic beverages, namely, vodka”.
- The opponent has made significant investments of promoting vodka, in particular by collaborating with the James Bond film “Spectre 007”.
- It is impossible to make a phonetic comparison between the marks, because the reputed mark only has graphic elements, whereas the contested mark is combined of both graphic and verbal parts.
- Marks at comparison are visually and conceptually similar, however phonetic and semantic differences do not play a decisive role in the analysis.
- Comparison of the graphic parts of marks at issue are essential.
- Overall both the contested mark and the reputed mark make a similar visual and conceptual impression (they repeat elements in the same positioning). The common elements are a palace in the centre of the marks, surrounded by frosted tree branches.
- The identical nature of the goods suggests that the owner of the contested mark would be capable of taking unfair advantage and causing detriment to the repute of the earlier trade mark. Especially because POLMOS is a famous vodka manufacturer with long-standing traditions.
- Due to the similar concept of marks and the identical goods, an associative link may be formed in the minds of consumers.
- For majority of Latvian consumers the level of attention for selecting alcoholic beverages is considered to be low, however a certain part of consumers also make their choice based on previous experience.