MBR and MR are not confusingly similar


The Swiss Administrative Court has reversed a decision of the Swiss Intellectual Property Office in which the latter found that there was a likelihood of confusion between the trademarks MR and MBR (Case B-3268/2007, January 25 2008). The court ruled that the appellant's trademark MR was not confusingly similar to the respondent's trademark MBR despite the fact that both marks covered similar goods in Class 3 of the Nice Classification (cosmetics and related products).

According to the court, although the addition or removal of a letter does not generally alter the overall impression of a mark, this principle does not apply to acronyms. The court emphasized that acronyms can be remembered easily by the relevant public. Therefore, slight differences between two acronyms (even if they differ only by one letter) are easily remembered, as demonstrated by the decisions on the trademarks BOSS and BOKS, and SMI and RSMI. In these cases, the Swiss Federal Commission of Appeal for IP Rights found that there was no likelihood of confusion between the marks (for further details please see "RSMI and SMI acronym marks are not confusingly similar").

In the present case, the court also found that the pronunciation of the acronym 'MBR' differs for that of 'MR', as the middle consonant 'b' is clearly perceivable. Therefore, the marks were not similar from a phonetic point of view. Finally, the court held that there was no conceptual or visual similarity between the marks.

The court awarded costs of Sfr7,500 to the appellant. The decision is final.

Alfred Strahlberg, Strahlberg & Partners, Riga

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