Visual differences allow coexistence of DARK and DARK DOG marks


The Metropolitan Court has overturned a Hungarian Patent Office (HPO) decision to refuse registration of the mark DARK for goods in Class 34 of the Nice Classification (Case 1.Pk.26.932/2001/7dd). It held that although the word element was similar to a pre-existing registration for DARK DOG that covered similar goods, the two signs were visually dissimilar, eliminating the likelihood of confusion.

Reemtsma Debreceni Dohánygyár, a cigarette manufacturer, applied for the registration of the device mark DARK. The HPO rejected the application on the grounds that it was confusingly similar to the earlier DARK DOG trademark and also covered similar goods. Reemtsma appealed to the Metropolitan Court.

The court overturned the HPO's decision and allowed registration. It stated that the HPO was correct in noting the similarity between the words used in the trademarks. Therefore, the main issue to assess was whether the DARK mark would lead consumers to be confused or deceived. The court examined both marks and held that this was unlikely as they were visually dissimilar. It noted that Reemtsma's mark features the word 'dark' in white letters on a black background, while the pre-existing registration includes the word 'dog' (the meaning of which is commonly known in Hungary) and a sketch of a dog. These elements, said the court were highly distinctive features.

Gabriella Sasvári, SBG & K Patent and Law Office, Budapest

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