9 September 2020TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Champagne brand toasts victory over ‘Delaunay’ TM at UKIPO

Champagne maker Les Roches Blanches has won a trademark battle at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), after the office refused to register a competitor’s mark.

Badet Clement Et Compagnie applied for the trademark ‘Edouard Delaunay’ in January 2019 in the classes wines, spirits and liqueurs, after which Les Roches Blanches filed a notice of opposition two months later.

The champagne brand argued that there was a likelihood of consumer confusion because the disputed mark and its own trademark ‘Louis Delaunay’ were similar, and the goods covered by the marks were identical.

Les Roches Blanches also held that its own mark was distinctive due to the unusual nature of the surname ‘Delaunay’, pointing out that there were only 89 incidences of the surname in England and just one in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, none have been recorded in Wales and Scotland.

In addition, the champagne brand argued that the general public would presume a relationship between people of the names ‘Louis Delauney’ and ‘Edouard Delauney’ in the same sector of wine production.

It held that because: “the names are so close and have the same resonance, one would naturally expect a familial and a commercial relationship to exist and apply the qualities and styles of one to the other”.

The brand further argued that it was possible to “simply to confuse the two by the doctrine of imperfect recollection: both marks are, unmistakably, the names of gentlemen with forenames of a similar nature and with the same unusual surname, and that alone can enable confusion”.

While Badet Clement Et Compagnie accepted that the respective goods were identical, it argued that the competing marks lacked conceptual similarity.

When examining the evidence, the UKIPO concluded that the contested goods were identical to the goods covered under the opponent’s mark, and that the marks were visually and aurally similar to a medium degree and conceptually neutral.

It also agreed with Les Roches Blanches that its mark, as a whole, is distinctive to a high degree and the unusual surname gives the mark its high degree of distinctiveness.

The UKIPO concluded that, when faced with these identical goods, the average consumer is likely to expect an economic connection and conclude that the wines emanate from the same, or linked, family estate/vineyard(s).

Badet Clement Et Compagnie was ordered pay Les Roches Blanches costs.

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