9 November 2018Trademarks

Miss World fails to fight off pageant TM at UKIPO

Miss World has failed in its opposition to a trademark for another beauty contest at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Yesterday, November 8, the IPO found that a trademark applied for in June 2017 by World Modelling Industries Association would not confuse the public or take unfair advantage of Miss World’s trademarks.

World Modelling’s trademark covers class 41 (beauty pageants and entertainment, among other things) and features the words ‘Miss Beauty World’ below a tiara and above an image of the globe, flanked by a pair of wings.

The trademark would be ‘mainly’ used in China, but that doesn’t mean that there will be no use in the UK, explained the IPO.

In its opposition, Miss World relied on three trademarks in class 41: ‘Miss World’; a logo of the globe with an arrangement above it; and the same globe logo with the words ‘Mrs World’ below it.

Miss World claimed that the applied-for mark was highly similar to its own and would lead to a likelihood of confusion. The opposition also claimed that the trademark would take unfair advantage of the Miss World marks and is liable to be prevented under passing off.

“The unfair advantage claim appears to be predicated upon the fact that the opponent has not granted a licence to the applicant and so the applicant would be able to ‘free-ride’ on the reputation of the earlier marks,” said the IPO.

In response, World Modelling denied all the grounds and requested that Miss World provide proof of use of its earlier registered marks.

Steven Morley, Miss World’s events director, provided a witness statement that said the Miss World Beauty contest was started by his father in London, in 1951, as part of the Festival of Britain.

Morley went on to explain where each of the Miss World trademarks are featured and how many people view them, before adding that worldwide turnover figures are substantial, in the region of £5 million to 10 million ($6.5 million to $13 million) per year.

Judi Pike, on behalf of the IPO, concluded that Miss World could rely on the first and second marks, but not the third mark as no evidence demonstrated use.

However, Pike also found that while many of the services covered by the trademarks were similar, the trademarks only had a low degree of visual similarity.

“The applicant’s mark is complex, with the other elements much more visually dominant. There is a very low degree of visual similarity between the marks,” said Pike.

She concluded that there was a medium degree of aural similarity between ‘Miss World’ and the application, but also found the marks were only conceptually similar to a low degree.

“Putting all the factors together, there is no likelihood that the [applied-for mark and ‘Miss World’ mark] will be imperfectly recalled and mistaken for one another. They are simply too different for that to happen,” said Pike.

Miss World’s claim of unfair advantage also failed, along with the claim of passing off.

Miss World was ordered to pay World Modelling £300.

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