15 February 2019Trademarks

Bulgarian restaurant suffers TM defeat before EU court

The EU General Court has upheld a decision that a mark applied-for by a Bulgarian restaurant group is likely to be confused with an earlier trademark.

Published yesterday, February 14, the court affirmed a decision by the European Intellectual Property Office’s Second Board of Appeal, which had found that the mark would be confused with a trademark owned by Spanish wine company Grupo Osborne.

The court determined that the visual and phonetic similarities between the proposed mark and earlier trademark were enough to conclude that there was a likelihood of confusion.

The applied-for mark was registered by Bulgaria-based Torro Entertainment in October 2015. Registered in classes 35 and 43, the mark is a figurative sign which covers services including restaurant services, catering and accommodation.

It is made up of a black square, with the words ‘Torro Grande’ written in white. Under the square, ‘Meat in Style’ is written in bold black letters, with the ‘a’ in ‘meat’ written horizontally. The mark covers services including catering, restaurant services and accommodation.

Grupo Osborne contested the trademark, claiming that the applied-for mark would be confused with its earlier mark ‘Toro’, which is also registered in classes 35 and 43.

In yesterday’s decision, the General Court said the board was correct to find that the services covered by the applied-for mark and the earlier trademark were similar, and that this would add to the likelihood of confusion.

Although the court found that Torro Entertainment’s applied-for mark consisted of both figurative and word elements, it said the differences were not enough to “neutralise the similarity” between the earlier mark and the applied-for mark.

The court affirmed the board’s finding that there was a high degree of phonetic similarity between the marks, because ‘Torro’ was the “most distinctive and dominant element” of Torro Entertainment’s proposed mark.

It added that the appeal board “correctly held that the figurative elements” of the applied-for mark were “secondary and of weak distinctiveness”.

The General Court concluded that due to the phonetic similarity of the word elements, there was a likelihood of confusion between the applied-for mark and the earlier trademark.

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