MAST mark stands firm against MUST


The Metropolitan Court has reversed a decision of the Hungarian Patent Office (HPO) to refuse to register the device mark MAST INDUSTRIES on the basis that it was confusingly similar to the earlier word mark MUST (Case 1Pk28.734/2001/6, September 22 2004).

Mast Industries Inc, a US company, applied to register the device mark MAST INDUSTRIES for goods and services in Classes 25 and 35 of the Nice Classification. During the course of its examination, the HPO found that the mark was confusingly similar to the two MUST word marks owned by Cartier International BV. Accordingly, the HPO refused the application pursuant to Section 4(1)(b) of the Trademark Law (Decision M9804172/6). Mast appealed to the Metropolitan Court, arguing that (i) the marks were different in appearance, pronunciation and meaning, and (ii) the MUST marks had not been used in Hungary in the previous five years and thus could not be the basis of a refusal pursuant to Section 18 of the Trademark Law.

The court reversed the HPO decision. It accepted Mast's argument that MAST INDUSTRIES and MUST are not confusingly similar because:

  • the MAST INDUSTRIES mark is a device mark that includes a characteristic shape - a dark circle in which two white shapes form the letter 'm';

  • the overall impression created by the words 'Mast Industries' is substantially different from that created by the word 'must' with regard to size, legibility and pronunciation; and

  • the marks have very different meanings.

Accordingly, the court allowed the registration of MAST INDUSTRIES.

Gabriella Sasvári, SBG & K Patent and Law Office, Budapest

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