10 May 2018Trademarks

Marriott fails in hotel TM opposition at UKIPO

Marriott Worldwide Corporation has failed in its attempt to block the registration of a UK trademark.

On May 3, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) rejected the company’s opposition to ‘JacHotels’, a mark applied for by JacTravel, a supplier of hotel accommodation for the travel industry.

Filed in July 2015, the trademark covers class 39 (which includes transport and travel information) and class 43 (which includes the provision of holiday accommodation).

Marriott and its subsidiary ACHM Global Hospitality Licensing relied on EU trademarks ‘AC Hotels’ (number 2,549,087) and ‘AC Hotel’ (number 13,894,944).

AC Hotels is a chain of hotels owned by Marriott. There are 132 hotels, 81 in the EU (61 of which are in Spain), with two of those based in the UK.

Oliver Morris, on behalf of the IPO, said: “Other than retirement home services and crèche services, the applied-for services all strike me as identical (or similar to the very highest degree) to terms in the opponents’ class 43 specification.”

He added that the average consumer would have a normal degree of care and attention when buying and that the services will often be considered through looking at brochures and websites, which suggests that the visual impacts of the marks are important.

However, aural impact is also important, added Morris, because this is a “field in which advice is often sought from a person such as a travel agent when booking a hotel for example”.

When comparing the marks, the IPO found that given the subordinate role that Hotel/Hotels plays in the marks, the overall impression of the trademarks will be dominated by ‘Jac’ or ‘AC’.

As both marks contain the letters ‘ac’, they have a medium degree of visual similarity.

“In my view, the Jac element will be pronounced in the same way as the male forename Jack. The letters that make up the element are structured in a way (with a vowel separating two consonants) that lends itself to articulation as a word. That is not the case for AC,” added Morris, finding that there is only a low degree of aural similarity.

Conceptually, Morris concluded that AC is likely to be articulated on the basis of the letters themselves, “creating no real concept”.

The IPO found that there would be no confusion between the marks and concluded that Marriott’s opposition had failed.

Marriott was ordered to pay JacTravel £700 ($947) in costs.

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15 March 2018   The EU General Court has today annulled the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO) rejection of Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s application to invalidate a trademark.