Something smells FISKY on the drinks market


The Maritime and Commercial Court has ruled in Nortlander A/S v Hela Wine & Spirits (V-170-05, September 18 2007). The case involved a dispute between two leading vodka manufacturers over the trademark FISK.

Nortlander A/S is the owner of the trademark registration for the word marks FISH and FISK (the Danish word for 'fish') in Class 33 of the Nice Classification. Since 2001 Nortlander has sold and marketed a vodka beverage tasting of liquorice, menthol and eucalyptus under the designation FISHERMAN. In a previous decision dated June 2 2004, the Maritime and Commercial Court had ordered Nortlander to cease using the designation FISHERMAN; this decision was upheld by the Supreme Court (see "FISHERMAN for vodka is no friend of FISHERMAN for lozenge"). Subsequently, Nortlander changed the name of the product to FISHMAN and later on to FISK.

In 2005 Hela Wine & Spirits initiated the sale and marketing of a similar product under the designation FISKEFJÆS (meaning 'fishface') and in the same type of bottle as Nortlander's product. Nortlander objected to Hela's registration of the trademark FISKEFJÆS, but the Trademarks Office rejected the objection. Nortlander appealed to the Maritime and Commercial Court.

The court found that the trademarks FISK and FISKEFJÆS were not confusingly similar. In addition, the combination of Hela's labels and the bottle in which its product was sold was not deemed to infringe Nortlander's get-up. However, the court noted that Hela was not entitled to use the designation FISK in connection with the marketing of alcoholic beverages.

Mads Marstrand-Jorgensen, Norsker & Co, Copenhagen

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