No confusion between GALA and GALÁXIA for coffee

European Union

In Koffiebranderij en Theehandel 'Drie Mollen sinds 1818'BV v Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) the European Court of First Instance (CFI) has dismissed the plaintiff's opposition to the registration of GALÁXIA as a Community trademark for coffee. It held that there was no likelihood of confusion with the plaintiff's GALA mark, despite the fact that both marks covered the same type of goods.

Portuguese company Manuel Nabeiro Silveria Lda applied to register its GALÁXIA device mark with the OHIM for coffee in Class 30 of the Nice Classification. Koffiebranderij en Theehandel 'Drie Mollen sinds 1818'BV (KT), a Dutch company, opposed registration based on various national and international registrations for GALA for goods in Class 30, including coffee and tea. Both the Opposition Division of the OHIM and the Second Board of Appeal rejected the opposition and concluded that, despite the considerable similarity or even identity of the goods concerned, there was no risk of confusion because the marks in question were sufficiently dissimilar.

On appeal, the CFI upheld these decisions and dismissed the opposition. It agreed that while there was no doubting the similarity between the goods covered by the two marks, the overall impression of the marks was sufficiently different to exclude a risk of confusion to the public. The CFI pointed out the following differences:

  • Although the first four letters of the marks were identical, the marks differed considerably in length and the first four letters of the GALÁXIA mark would not be viewed separately from the final three letters. The court stressed that the ending 'xia' was so obvious that it would definitely be noticed by consumers.

  • The GALÁXIA mark included a figurative element.

  • The words 'gala' and 'galáxia' have meanings in various languages of the EU member states and, even though such meanings differ depending on the language, there are clear conceptual differences between those meanings.

In addition, the CFI rejected KT's contention that its GALA mark was well known. It noted that even if this was the case, the differences between the marks made this claim immaterial. These differences also defeated KT's argument that consumers were likely to be misled into believing that the products sold under the GALA and GALÁXIA marks were from the same company or from economically-linked companies.

Alexander R Klett, Gleiss Lutz, Stuttgart

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