EUROSUISSE will not confuse as to origin, says Metropolitan Court
The Metropolitan Court has overturned a decision of the Hungarian Patent Office (HPO) and has allowed registration of the mark EUROSUISSE by a company with its main seat in Hong Kong (Case 1.Pk.23.596/2006/4, March 28 2007).
Euro Suisse International Limited of Hong Kong applied to register the EUROSUISSE mark for goods in Classes 7, 9 and 11 of the Nice Classification. The HPO rejected the application on the grounds that the mark would likely cause confusion to consumers in respect of the origin of the goods pursuant to Section 3(1)(b) of the Law on Trademarks XI of 1997. Section 3(1)(b) provides as follows:
"(1) A sign may not enjoy trademark protection, if...
(b) it deceives consumers with regard to the type, quality, geographical origin or other characteristic of the goods or services."
On appeal, the Metropolitan Court accepted Euro Suisse's argument that EUROSUISSE is an unusual juxtaposition of words (Suisse being the French for 'Switzerland' or 'Swiss'), which, thanks to the inclusion of the word 'EURO', would not lead to the supposition that the goods originate from Switzerland. The court also held, among other things, that the goods covered by the mark are not products for which Switzerland is famous.
The court also noted that although the HPO is not required to take notice of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market's (OHIM) decisions, OHIM has granted EUROSUISSE Community trademark protection. The court concluded that this gave additional weight to Euro Suisse's argument. The court reasoned that as EUROSUISSE is already protected as a Community trademark, and thereby in Hungary, the rejection of Euro Suisse's application to register EUROSUISSE as a Hungarian national mark was contradictory.
Accordingly, the court overturned the HPO's decision and allowed registration.
Gabriella Sasvári, SBG & K Patent and Law Office, Budapest
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