Electrolux may lose right to VOLTA trademark

Estonia

The Tallinn District Court has issued a decision (Case 2-3/119/2003) ruling that AB Electrolux's VOLTA trademark registration for vacuum cleaners infringes the trademark rights of the successor in title of the well-known Volta company, which has trademark rights in the VOLTA mark in three classes, including that covering vacuum cleaners.

Volta established a factory in Estonia in 1899, and has registered and used its VOLTA trademark for electric engines and household apparatus, particularly equipment used in cooking. It filed a cancellation action against Electrolux's mark with the Patent and Trademark Office's Board of Appeal.

The Board of Appeal cancelled Electrolux's registration. Electrolux appealed to the Tallinn Administrative Court and won. On appeal to the Tallinn District Court, the decision was overturned.

The district court found that (i) VOLTA is well known in Estonia for electric engines and household apparatus, and (ii) consumers would associate VOLTA for vacuum cleaners with VOLTA for electric engines and household apparatus because electric engines are vacuum cleaners' main components. This, the court reasoned, may mislead consumers and dilute the well-known prior VOLTA mark.

Electrolux has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which has yet to decide whether it is admissible.

Almar Sehver, AAA Legal Services, Tallinn

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