Trademark Office allows registration of 'air bag' mark, but restricts owner's exclusive rights


The National Trademark Office of Colombia has allowed the registration of the figurative trademark SRS AIRBAG, depicted below, in the name of a Colombian citizen, Diego Mauricio Martinez.


The trademark application covered, among other goods, safety equipment for land vehicles. It was opposed by the company Metrokia SA on the ground that the term 'SRS air bag' lacked distinctiveness and was generic for security devices for land vehicles.

The National Trademark Office ruled in the first instance that the term 'SRS air bag' could not be appropriated exclusively by the applicant, as competitors were necessarily required to use that term to give information about the products at issue. Therefore, registration of the mark was initially refused.

The applicant filed an appeal, which was decided by a resolution dated December 23 2014.

This decision created an important precedent, as the National Trademark Office allowed the registration of the trademark, but expressly established within the resolution that the applicant would not acquire exclusive rights over the expression 'SRS air bag'.

Even though the letters 'SRS', which form part of the registered trademark, correspond to the acronym for 'secondary retention system', and the term 'air bag' is commonly known as designating a security device for vehicles, the registration was granted to the trademark as a whole, as a unique and indivisible sign.

With this decision, the National Trademark Office thus restricted the trademark rights of the applicant, notwithstanding the lack of disclaimer within the application.

Margarita Castellanos, Castellanos & Co, Bogota

Get unlimited access to all WTR content