Don’t I know that logo from somewhere?

28 June 2022

Logos come in all shapes and sizes and are a popular way to brand a trademark. It is often possible to convey an entire story through graphic forms, using colours and fonts which reinforce a brand name.

That is why it is often crucial to protect a logo. As with a brand name, there are strategic choices to be made. These choices often depend on what the logo looks like and how it will be used. Is it a combination of a word and graphic elements, or is it more like the Nike swoosh: just a graphic element that is used on its own? Will there be different colour variations or will the logo only be used in a single colour?

It is often necessary to register several trademarks, as well as a design, to give a logo optimum protection.

Once you have registered your logo, you will naturally want to defend it. This is what UBISOFT, a well-known maker of games, must have felt when it saw an application submitted by a Chinese company. There is undoubtedly a conceptual similarity, because both logos consist of spirals, but are they also visually similar?

Not according to the European Trademarks Office, which ruled that the spirals are depicted differently. The earlier trademark consists of a single line of a consistent thickness, spiralling around four times, while the disputed trademark is broader in the middle and narrower at the end and only spirals around once. Therefore, the trademarks were not deemed likely to make a sufficiently similar overall impression to result in confusion.

This decision demonstrates that a conceptual similarity on its own is not generally sufficient grounds to mount a successful opposition. There needs to be a significantly striking visual similarity for trademarks to make an overall similar impression.


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