RIFFLES held to be confusingly similar to RUFFLES

In PepsiCo Inc v Lorenz Bahlsen Snack World Holding GmbH (Case 861/3/86, published in the Trademark Gazette on December 29 2008), an Iranian court has held that the trademarks RIFFLES and RUFFLES were confusingly similar.

Lorenz Bahlsen Snack World Holding GmbH applied for the registration of the trademark RIFFLES in Iran for goods in Classes 29, 30, 32 and 35 of the Nice Classification.

PepsiCo Inc opposed the registration of the mark for goods in Class 29 based on its earlier trademark RUFFLES, which is registered for the same class of goods in Iran. PepsiCo claimed that the mark RUFFLES was a well-known trademark which was registered in many countries, both in Persian and Latin characters.

In its defence, Lorenz argued that:
  • the RUFFLES mark is not well-known;
  • the goods covered by the mark are sufficiently different;
  • its application covered goods in several classes, while PepsiCo's registration covered only goods in Class 29; and
  • the trademark RIFFLES was not confusingly similar to PepsiCo's RUFFLES mark.
The court disagreed, holding that there was a likelihood of confusion between RUFFLES and RIFFLES. Further, the court stated that the trademark RIFFLES constituted an imitation of the RUFFLES mark, regardless of whether RUFFLES was well known in Iran.
The court thus ruled in favour of PepsiCo and upheld the opposition. Lorenz has not appealed the decision.
Mohammad Badamchi, HAMI Legal Services, Tehran 

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