ALPINA and ANDINA held to be confusingly similar


The Colombian Council of State has reversed a decision of the Colombian Trademark Office which allowed the registration of the trademark ANDINA (and design).

Productos Lácteos Andina Ltd applied for the registration of the trademark ANDINA (and design) for goods in Class 29 of the Nice Classification. Alpina Productos Alimenticios SA opposed the application on the grounds that there was a likelihood of confusion with its registered word and figurative trademarks ALPINA. The Trademark Office upheld the opposition. However, the decision was overruled on appeal and ANDINA was registered. Alpina filed an invalidation action before the Council of State.

Before the council, Alpina argued that there was an obvious conceptual similarity between the signs, as they evoked the same idea. Therefore, the trademark ANDINA was unable to distinguish the source of Andina's goods.

The council agreed, holding that the marks were confusingly similar from a phonetic and conceptual point of view. It found that although ANDINA and ALPINA refer to different geographical locations (the Andes and the Alps), both convey the image of mountain ranges. The council concluded that consumers were likely to be confused as to the origin of the goods if they were placed on the market under equal conditions.

The council referred to a prejudicial interpretation of the Court of Justice of the Andean Community, which stated that the courts must analyze the overall impression of the marks in order to determine whether there is a likelihood of confusion. Moreover, the courts must focus on the similarities between the marks, rather than the differences.

The council thus held that the trademark ANDINA was invalid.

Fernando Triana, Triana Uribe & Michelsen, Bogota

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