Kokura confusingly similar to OKURA, rules court


In Hotel Okura Amsterdam BV v De Gouden Wok BV (Case 03/3314), the District Court of The Hague has enjoined the defendant from using the name Kokura in its trade name and domain name.

De Gouden Wok BV opened a Japanese restaurant under the name Kokura in a small village near Leiden, Netherlands. It also registered the domain name 'kokura.nl' to promote the restaurant. The Hotel Okura Amsterdam, part of the Intercontinental Group, filed a complaint with the District Court of The Hague on the basis of its OKURA Community trademark registered for, among other things, restaurant services in Class 42 of the Nice Classification.

The court ruled that the Kokura name infringed Hotel Okura's rights in the OKURA mark. It held that (i) OKURA is a strong mark, and (ii) there was a clear aural and visual similarity between the name Kokura and the OKURA mark. This, reasoned the court, was sufficient to create a likelihood of confusion and thus justify the enforcement of Hotel Okura's rights pursuant to Article 9(1)(b) of the Community Trademark Regulation.

Paul Steinhauser, Steinhauser Hoogenraad Advocaten, Amsterdam

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