Community Plant Variety Office CPVO Pink Lady

May 6, 2024
EU ruling favors Pink Lady trademark registration

A European court ruling has favored Pink Lady in its long running trademark registration spat.

It has been more than 10 years since Pink Lady America LLP (PLA) filed an application before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the Wild Pink wordmark, stirring a longstanding opposition by other apple and pear concerns.

The dispute concerned the likelihood of confusion and breach of reputation with earlier Pink Lady trademarks involving Apple and Pear Australia Ltd. and its EU Licensee Star Fruits Diffusion, according to a news release from the Yakima, Washington, based Pink Lady America. 

Pink Lady logoThe dispute went through the assessments of the former Office for Harmonization in the International Market, Opposition Division, and its Board of Appeal, both with a favourable outcome for PLA. It then made it all the way to the EU General Court and was involved in various rulings.

Five years and many submissions later, the Board of Appeal remitted the case back to the Opposition Division, deeming it appropriate to ensure a review process, and also due to the arguments put forward by the parties in the course of the proceedings, according to the release.

With its April 25 decision, the EUIPO Opposition Division issued two decisions in respect of the wordmark and figurative EUTM (European Union trade mark) applications: dismissing the oppositions as well as the opponent’s requests to reopen the examination of the applied-for mark, according to the release. 

“The decisions, following important historical and judicial events as Brexit … carry out a thorough examination of the numerous criteria to be considered in signs and goods comparison, especially where the earlier marks enjoy a considerable reputation for some of the goods concerned (in this case, apples).” according to the release.

In respect of the likelihood of confusion, the Opposition Division thus found that “Consequently, despite the reputation of the earlier marks ‘PINK LADY’, the coincidence in the non-distinctive verbal element ‘PINK’ and the low degree of overall similarity it causes are insufficient to lead the consumers, even if displaying a low degree of attention, to perceive that even identical goods bearing the contested sign originate from the same or economically linked undertakings. Likelihood of confusion is even less likely in relation to the goods found to be similar to a low degree,” according to the release.  

Furthermore, with respect to the “link” between the signs, the Opposition Division found that “The necessity of such a ‘link’ between the conflicting marks in consumers’ minds is not explicitly mentioned in Article 8(5) EUTMR but has been confirmed by several judgments,” according to the release.

The Office then concluded that “it is highly unlikely that the relevant public will make a mental connection between the signs in dispute, that is to say, establish a ‘link’ between them,” according to the release. 

As a result, the oppositions were rejected in their entirety, and the Opponent was ordered to pay the fees and costs incurred by the Applicant, according to the release.

All the decisions issued by EU authorities in the long saga are available here.

 


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