SNOOPY mark application for fast food services rejected


The Athens Administrative Court of First Instance has affirmed a decision from the Trademark Committee and has rejected a trademark application filed by Greek companies Andrikopoulos Chr and Fragoulias OE for SNOOPY FAST FOOD and a device featuring the well-known Snoopy character (Case 7744/2002, April 18 2007). In doing so, the court also accepted a supplementary intervention filed against the application by the US company United Features Syndicate (UFS), which owns both the copyright and trademark rights in the famous Peanuts characters originally designed by Charles Schulz.

At first instance, the Trademark Committee upheld UFS's opposition against registration on the grounds that it was confusingly similar to the famous SNOOPY marks belonging to UFS. The Greek applicants appealed on the following grounds:

  • The trademark application for SNOOPY FAST FOOD covered only "fast food and restaurant services" in Class 42 of the Nice Classification: none of UFS's prior registered SNOOPY marks covered the same services in Class 42.

  • There was no bad faith on the part of the applicants because each sides' marks had different target markets and thus there was no potential for confusion.

  • The trademark application for SNOOPY FAST FOOD did not qualify as a 'slavish imitation' of previous SNOOPY marks because it also contained the words FAST FOOD, which differentiated it from the other SNOOPY marks.

The Administrative Court of First Instance upheld the Trademark Committee's earlier decision and also took the opportunity to discuss other issues, such as the copyright history of UFS's marks, in order to provide further grounds for the rejection of the application. It highlighted that the relevant copyright for the famous Peanuts characters exists in many countries and has substantiated the fame of the Snoopy character. In addition, the court referred to various publications, such as cartoon strips and comics featuring the Peanuts characters, which are popular among the Greek public, as a whole, and have been so for many years prior to the filing of any SNOOPY trademarks in Greece.

Based on this evidence of long-standing popularity, the court dismissed the applicants' arguments that the difference in target markets would eliminate any likelihood of confusion. The court held that the fame of the Snoopy character, based on its copyright and other acquired rights, rendered irrelevant the fact that the parties' marks covered different classes of goods and services. The court concluded that consumers were likely to believe that an establishment operating under the mark SNOOPY FAST FOOD and the Snoopy device was somehow endorsed by the owner of copyright and trademark rights in the Snoopy character - UFS.

Eleni Lappa, Dr Helen G Papaconstantinou John V Filias & Associates, Athens

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