BRASP and VASP unlikely to cause confusion


In VASP-Sociedade Transportes e Distribuições v BRASP-Distribuição de Livros e Produtos Multimédia (unreported), the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice has ruled that the use of the trade name and mark BRASP does not infringe the trade name and mark VASP.

VASP-Sociedade Transportes e Distribuições and its affiliate VASP-Porta a Porta, Comércio de Publicações filed an action against BRASP-Distribuição de Livros e Produtos Multimédia, alleging that the name BRASP was infringing their VASP trade name and mark.

Both the first instance and appellate courts found for BRASP.

On further appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed. It found that there was no likelihood that the public would confuse the signs for the following reasons:

  • The names and trademarks VASP and BRASP refer to specific services, which are different: BRASP is involved in the distribution of books and multimedia products, while the VASP companies operate in a much wider field (transport and distribution of various goods, including books).

  • The people in direct contact with the signs, usually intermediaries between the sign owner and the end consumer, have a range of means of identifying the origin of the signs.

  • Portuguese law does not preclude a name or trademark from including an element already incorporated into another distinctive sign, provided that, by its nature, structure or composition, it will not create confusion in the average consumer's mind.

  • There is a significant graphic difference at the beginning of each sign (one starting with 'BR', the other with 'V'). The signs also differ phonetically.

Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.

Sónia Queiróz Vaz, Barrocas & Alves Pereira, Lisbon

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