Driving backwards

29 August 2019

In France there seems to have been a battle between namesakes for some time. On the one hand Peugeot from the cars and on the other hand Peugeot from the family Peugeot, according to Wikipedia a conglomerate of companies in the industrial sector.

Still, Peugeot (of the cars) probably was surprised when they saw an European application of PEUGEOT  for no fewer than 19 classes, including toys and entertainment services. In some classes it is nicely indicated that the services do not relate to cars and the like, but an identical trademark for so many classes is not desirable for PEUGEOT, with a view to future applications and new products.

Peugeot therefore filed opposition and argued that Peugeot is a well-known trademark. The new trademark PEUGEOT would free ride on the reputation and distinctive character of the former trademark. As we know, Peugeot has to argue why this would be the case. To begin with, it had to prove the reputation of the mark. This is often a difficult hurdle, but Peugeot succeeds. The European mark is well-known for cars.

The similarity between the signs is also immediately assumed, as is the assumption that the relevant public will make a link between the marks when they see the contested mark. The latter is being assumed for most of the products and services. Finally, the question must be answered whether there may be a risk of dilution or free riding. An interesting circumstance is that the mark Peugeot of the family has been used since 1810. In fact, due to this long-term use, the EUIPO does not see any risk of free riding or dilution. Peugeot’s opposition is therefore rejected and Peugeot must therefore tolerate the trademark PEUGEOT for many classes.

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