Single letter avoids confusion, rules Trademark Office


In a case concerning the registration of a trademark by Fiat Auto SpA, the appellate body of the Colombian Trademark Office has held that the marks JTS and CTS, both used in relation to automobiles, are not confusingly similar (Case 32539).

In September 2001 Italy's Fiat filed an application for the registration of the acronym JTS as a trademark. The Trademark Office rejected the application because US-based General Motors had already registered the acronym CTS. The Trademark Office stated that:

  • JTS and CTS are phonetically similar;

  • both marks are used in relation to automobiles; and

  • neither company uses its mark with additional elements such as a logo which would add distinctive character to its mark.

Fiat appealed, arguing that JTS and CTS are sufficiently different so as not to confuse consumers. The Trademark Office's appellate body revoked its earlier decision. It held that consumers would notice the difference between the first letters of the two acronyms ('j' and 'c'), as is normally the case with short acronyms and, therefore, confusion was unlikely.

For discussion of a similar ruling in Germany, see Acronyms DKV and OKV are not confusing, rules court.

Luz Helena Adarve-Gomez, Cardenas & Cardenas, Bogota

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